Dude, he’s running.
In addition to congressional reapportionment, this week’s special session will include termination of legacy special districts and removal of exemptions from the big tech accountability law. pic.twitter.com/67sF4E113I
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 19, 2022
Alternate headline: Corporation in privileged glass political house learns not to throw stones. If you haven’t yet heard about Disney’s attempted intervention in Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, start here and work your way forward. Disney tried to pander to progressive activists by intervening against the passage of the act, buying into the “don’t say gay” misrepresentation, only to discover that the bill was broadly popular with parents of all partisan affiliations. Disney’s CEO then attempted to back off a little, but came under fire from the same activists for their short-lived recalculation.
Now Florida lawmakers see an opportunity to strip Disney of a massive concession that allows them to police their own facilities in their Orlando DisneyWorld. And DeSantis sees an opportunity to score big points in the national spotlight:
DeSantis expanded the scope of a special legislative session that begins Tuesday on redistricting, broadening it so that lawmakers “also will be considering termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968,” DeSantis said.
Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District was created by the Legislature in 1967. It spans two counties and 25,000 acres, and gives the company broad powers to control what happens on Disney property. …
In addition to considering the repeal of Disney’s special district, the governor is calling on lawmakers to review a carve out Disney received that exempts the company from a law targeting alleged censorship by Big Tech companies.
The governor’s own staff helped push for the carve out in response to requests from Disney, according to emails obtained by the Seeking Rents newsletter. DeSantis now wants to do away with it, though.
That’s a little embarrassing in retrospect, given the populist nature of the GOP electorate and their anger over media bias and platform targeting. DeSantis has the opportunity to get rid of that concession and fight a big culture-war battle at the same time before he launches his presidential bid in a few months. He has a gubernatorial re-election to win first, but this kind of attack strategy on behalf of a popular bill supporting angry parents is a great way to maximize DeSantis’ use of the post-Loudoun County parental-rights wave in Florida, and then beyond.
Disney will likely want to respond by twisting arms, but … how? They can’t relocate DisneyWorld. They can start organizing against the lawmakers who vote to strip them of their privileged concession, but that would also create problems for those who might oppose such lawmakers. Do Democrats in Florida really want to run for legislative seats by promising to restore a big, fat concession to one of the largest corporations in the world — and make it clear that Florida government is hostage to Disney? Good luck on that campaign in November.
The most likely response from Disney will be to publicly withdraw from this particular political fight, and perhaps to focus more on entertainment than on culture-war issues. That might annoy some of their employees, but it’s a lot less likely to annoy their customers and to cost them money and control over one of their biggest physical assets. Either way, DeSantis comes out a winner … and just in time to set himself up as a front-running contender for the 2024 GOP nomination. And perhaps the front-runner, even more than the man at the other Florida resort.