Ron DeSantis vs. Disney: A Recap
First, the Walt Disney Co., after an initial posture of neutrality, announced its opposite to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law.
DeSantis then threatened various actions to retaliate further, including placing a prison or a rival theme park near Walt Disney World.
After DeSantis sought to undo that deal, Disney has now responded with a lawsuit.
Disney Fires Back: What We Know
According to the New York Times, Disney on Wednesday sued DeSantis himself, the DeSantis-appointed board, and other state officials, citing “a targeted campaign of government retaliation.”
“Disney finds itself in this regrettable position because it expressed a viewpoint the Governor and his allies did not like. Disney wishes that things could have been resolved a different way,” the lawsuit says, per WPTV. “But Disney also knows that it is fortunate to have the resources to take a stand against the State’s retaliation — a stand smaller businesses and individuals might not be able to take when the State comes after them for expressing their own views. In America, the government cannot punish you for speaking your mind.”
The latest development in the controversy comes as DeSantis is reportedly preparing to run for president while running on a conservative record that emphasizes using the power of the state to strike back at perceived enemies.
But just as DeSantis’ standing in the polls has eroded, and stories are out about donors having their doubts about him, one of DeSantis’ most high-profile initiatives has been met with significant legal pushback, likely to extend the matter well into the time of DeSantis’ planned presidential campaign.
More Drama For DeSantis
Also this week, a Republican state senator in Florida filed legislation to amend the state’s “resign to run” law, which would make it legal for those holding office in Florida to run for president or vice president without resigning their current position.
This would appear to apply to DeSantis himself only.
“I am a bit biased because I think Gov. DeSantis has done such a good job, so I just want to make clear that if he is not the Republican nominee [for president] he can be back,” state Sen. Travis Hutson, the sponsor of the legislation, told NBC News.
A pro-Trump Super PAC had filed an ethics complaint in March with the Florida Ethics Commission, alleging that DeSantis’ “shadow presidential campaign” was “unlawful because they serve his personal political objectives, are in furtherance of his personal financial gain at the expense of Florida taxpayers, and are intended to influence his official decision to resign from office.”
Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director, slammed the complaint at the time, stating that “adding this to the list of frivolous and politically motivated attacks — it’s inappropriate to use state ethics for partisan purposes.”
According to the Morning Consult tracking poll of the 2024 election, Trump now has his largest lead to date over DeSantis.
As of April 25, Trump had 58 percent support in the Republican primary contest, compared to DeSantis (21 percent), former Vice President Mike Pence (7 percent), former Ambassador Nikki Haley (3 percent), former Congresswoman Liz Cheney (3 percent), and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy (3 percent.)
“Trump has a 37-percentage-point lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis among potential GOP primary voters, in what’s his biggest lead since Morning Consult began tracking in December. Trump is supported by a tracking high of 58% of potential Republican voters, while DeSantis is backed by a tracking low of 21% of the party’s electorate,” the poll said.
The poll also has Biden leading both Trump and DeSantis in head-to-head matchups.
Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.