Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ ongoing battle with Disney is showing why establishment Republicans are often called the “surrender caucus.”
The Hill reported last week that Washington Republicans are starting to worry that Governor DeSantis’ fight with Disney could become a distraction if he runs for president in 2024, and worse, could have the media portraying him as petty or vindictive.
Republican politicians have long been criticized by the base for being too timid to take the fight to the enemy because they are too afraid of how they might be perceived in the liberal media. So when a Republican comes along who doesn’t shrink from media attacks, Washington Republicans, donors, and strategists do what they always do. They panic.
One Republican strategist told The Hill that the problem DeSantis has is that now he must win the fight with Disney, and it isn’t clear if the governor can “continue upping the ante.”
The Trump campaign has been spending the last several weeks gleefully echoing the liberal media claims that DeSantis is losing the fight against Disney.
But that narrative took another blow last week when Disney filed a Hail Mary lawsuit against Florida alleging a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” that threatens its operations, “jeopardizes its economic future,” and “violates its constitutional rights.”
The powers that be at Disney aren’t taking Florida to court because they’re winning. They’re suing because they’re losing the battle.
But it is the very fact of the lawsuit that has establishment Republicans wishing DeSantis would take the more traditional Republican approach of tossing in the towel and surrendering.
But DeSantis isn’t an establishment Republican.
During a press conference last week, the Florida governor said Disney’s lawsuit is “political” and without merit. He argued that the company expects special treatment in Florida and is “upset” that it will have to “live by the same rules as everybody else.”
And while Washington Republicans may be getting skittish, Republican voters are not.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll last week found that a significant majority of Republican voters (64 percent) back the decision to roll back Disney’s special treatment while only 36 percent said Florida was “punishing Disney for exercising their right to free speech.”
Another 44 percent of Republicans said they have a more favorable view of the Florida governor because he is standing up to Disney while only 19 percent said they have a more negative view.