A TRUMP-DeSANTIS UNITY TICKET? Not if the Constitution has anything to say about it.

By Don Brown

This past Friday, when Megyn Kelly interviewed fellow former Fox News host Dan Bongino, Ms. Kelly broached the topic of a possible Trump-DeSantis presidential ticket, with Kelly opining that DeSantis as Trump’s running mate would attract Republicans from across the board. Bongino, who knows Trump, thinks Trump would never go for it.[1]

In raising the topic, Kelly joined several prominent media outlets in the past few weeks, including NBC News,[2] the Washington Times,[3] Yahoo News,[4] the American Spectator,[5] and the Boston Herald,[6]  all of which, to one degree or the other, advocated for, or at least raised the idea of Trump-DeSantis. Many pundits agree with Kelly, that Trump-DeSantis might present a formidable combination for Republicans.

The Red Elephant in the Room – the 12th Amendment.

Yet most talking heads, when discussing the topic, ignore the “Big Red Elephant” in the room, the 12th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which raises a near-impossible scenario for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominee of the same party to reside in the same state.

Even if the President and the Governor loved each other to death, were bestie man-bros, and couldn’t wait to share that anticipated kumbaya moment on that glorious day that DeSantis agrees to tag alongside as Trump’s little-brother VP pick – and DeSantis would be a definite step up over Pence – for all practical purposes, the Trump-DeSantis idea was a constitutional nonstarter before the horse ever left the barn.

Here’s why.

Under the 12th Amendment, ratified in 1804, presidential electors must cast separate votes for President and Vice President, and electors cannot vote for candidates for both offices, if both candidates are from the same state as the electors. Here’s the problematic language from the 12th Amendment, applied to a potential Trump-DeSantis ticket:

“The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves;”

It’s the “one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves” part that douses cold water on the “Trump-DeSantis Unity Ticket” idea.

Under this language, the 12th Amendment prohibits electors from Florida from casting their votes for both Trump and DeSantis.

In a tight race, if Florida’s 30 electors cast their vote for Trump for President, they could not then cast 30 votes for DeSantis as VP, because, like Trump, he’s from the “same state” as the electors and Trump.

The Florida electors could either abstain from the VP vote or vote for another vice-presidential candidate. But in a tight presidential race, with the country half-red, and half-blue, this could lead to a stalemate in the election of the Vice President or perhaps even the selection of a Democrat as vice president, by the U.S. Senate.

One solution could involve either Trump or DeSantis moving from Florida to claim another home state.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney tried this before the 2000 presidential election when he changed his voter registration from Texas, his residence since 1993, back to Wyoming on July 21, 2000, just four days before Bush named him as running mate.[7]

Democrats sued to disqualify Cheney. When they failed, Cheney, despite living in Texas since 1993 and serving as CEO of Dallas-based[8] Haliburton, ran as Bush’s running mate from Wyoming (a state other than Texas) to satisfy the requirements of the 12th amendment.

By contrast, Ron DeSantis would probably not leave Florida, which would force his resignation as Governor.

But what about Trump?

Would Trump change states to justify bringing DeSantis onto the ticket?

For fun, let’s consider a couple of scenarios.

Trump could theoretically move his residence back to New York, where he owns considerable real estate and was a registered voter for most of his adult life.

But the thought of Trump returning to the state of Alvin Bragg, Kathy Hochul, and Letitia James seems unfathomable.  No red-blooded American conservative wants to move to New York, and most are taking the first smokin’ train leaving the station, for places like Florida and the Carolinas.

Trump to North Carolina?

What about North Carolina?

Trump could shift his residence to North Carolina, where he owns a Mar-a-Lago-like property on Lake Norman just north of Charlotte,[9] and has extensive business dealings, including a branch of Trump Realty[10] in the state.  Unlike shrinking, shriveling New York, where hero marines get prosecuted for “murder” for saving little old ladies from dangerous nutcases on the subway, the growing, robust Tar Heel state would welcome Trump with open arms, along with its veto-proof Republican legislature, and its rock-star Republican Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson.

Trump has great affection for North Carolina, a state which he carried twice and which, of course, is the home state of his daughter-in-law, Laura Trump, who like Michael Jordan, grew up in Wilmington and even attended the same high school as Jordan.

North Carolina has been called a “swing state,” is the nation’s 9th most-populated state, and with its 16 electoral votes, surpassed Michigan, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Washington, and New Jersey, among others, on the Electoral College map. So, with Florida probably in the Republican column regardless, Trump shifting his residence to Lake Norman, North Carolina, might make sense strategically, to help lock down a crucial, significant southern swing state in 2024.

But still, the notion of Trump leaving his beloved Mar-a-Lago to declare residency elsewhere, simply to accommodate DeSantis on the ticket, seems far-fetched.

Trump doesn’t need to change his residence for anybody, will have many fascinating possibilities for his VP pick, and probably does not need DeSantis on the ticket to win Florida. 

If Trump wants to make tactical VP selections to shore up swing states, he could go into Georgia and pick Marjorie Taylor Greene. Or, he could pick the popular Virginia Governor Glen Youngkin, whose governing record has been more conservative than some predicted.[11] [12]

South Dakota Governor Kristy Noem, the only governor in the nation who stood up to Fauci and refused to shut down her state for COVID, would become by far the most dynamic woman ever to run on a national ticket, exuding charisma with a quick-witted magnetic charm that could cut across party lines and attract women voters. Just think of Noem chewing up Cackling Kamala in a debate.  Ditto for former Trump press secretary, and Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

With all these options at his disposal, the optics of President Trump moving to another state for any one person, especially DeSantis, who in Trump’s view, would never have been elected governor to begin with without the President’s help, does not seem very Trump-like and would signify that Trump thinks that he needs DeSantis on the ticket to win.

Trump won’t send that smoke signal.

Until then, all this talk of a Trump-DeSantis ticket is more a pipe dream than reality. Even if Trump were open to the idea of relocating, possibly for some other reason, somebody would have to rent a really big U-Haul.



[2] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2024-election/ron-desantis-hot-ticket-gop-events-rcna83748

[3] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/may/5/trump-desantis-unity-ticket-scores-voters-heighten/ 

[4] https://news.yahoo.com/trump-desantis-ticket-advantage-trump-235623221.html 

[5] https://spectator.org/a-trump-desantis-ticket-can-win-in-2024/

[6] https://www.bostonherald.com/2023/04/06/battenfeld-trump-desantis-ticket-in-2024-would-be-formidable 

[7] https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=122289&page=1

[8] Haliburton has since moved its US headquarters to Houston.

[9] https://www.trump.com/golf/trump-national-golf-club-charlotte-north-carolina

[10] https://www.charlottestories.com/top-5-things-donald-trump-owns-north-carolina/


[11] https://www.foxnews.com/politics/glenn-youngkin-transition-co-chair-virginia-conservative-government ,

[12] https://www.wric.com/news/virginia-news/youngkin-says-idea-of-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-has-gone-off-the-rails/

Don Brown, a former U.S. Navy JAG officer, is the author of the book “Travesty of Justice: The Shocking Prosecution of Lieutenant Clint Lorance” and “CALL SIGN EXTORTION 17: The Shootdown of SEAL Team Six,” and the author of 15 books on the United States Military, including three national bestsellers. He is one of four former JAG officers serving on the Lorance legal team. Lorance was pardoned by President Trump in November 2019. Brown is also a former military prosecutor and a former Special Assistant United States Attorney. He can be reached at donbrownbooks@gmail.com and on Twitter @donbrownbooks.