At the same time Gov. Ron DeSantis's (R-FL) supporters fear his 2024 presidential prospects are dissipating, he is also seeing Florida Republicans question if his high-profile war with Disney has gone too far.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Republicans and Democrats in his state are cautioning that he is no match for the entertainment titan headed by CEO Robert Iger who recently "took back the reins from Bob Chapek after 15 years.
As one Republican former state senator, Jeff Brandes, bluntly put it: "Disney is playing the long game. Disney has been here for 50 [years]. They’re not going anywhere.”
As the Journal's Arian Campo-Flores and Robbie Whelan wrote, "Mr. Iger’s return has given Disney’s lobbyists more confidence they can persevere in the fight, according to people who work with them, and legal experts say it will be a long one," adding, "Meanwhile, some lawmakers in the GOP-dominated legislature, which has backed the Republican governor, say they have begun to question Mr. DeSantis’s strategy on Disney."
Central to the war being waged by DeSantis is his attempt to wrest control from Disney of "the special tax district encompassing Walt Disney World Resort" by replacing it with a board loaded with his handpicked members --only to have Disney outplay him by striking, "a last-minute deal with the existing board—which it had effectively controlled—that preserved some of its authority over the land housing its Florida theme parks."
That was just the first warning shot -- before a lawsuit was filed this week -- that Disney won't take his aggression lightly.
Republican state Rep. Spencer Roach, who backs DeSantis, admitted that the ongoing battle may be a losing one.
“I think the governor is right, but I’m not sure at this point that the public is with us, and I would urge the governor to be cautious as he goes on with this fight with Disney," he explained.
"Disney’s economic weight gives the company some leverage. Mr. Iger said at the company’s annual meeting this year that the company plans to invest $17 billion in Florida over the next decade and create 13,000 new jobs. Any attempt to thwart those plans, he said, is 'not just antibusiness but…anti-Florida.' The company also has deployed allies in the amusement park industry to give interviews to local news outlets highlighting its safety record at the resort, and has retooled its lobby operation," the report states.
Florida House member Dan Daley (D-Broward County) claimed he has been informed Disney is more than willing to fight, and added that Iger is more than a match for the Florida governor.
“There’s a marked difference between Disney under Bob Iger and under Bob Chapek,” he pointed out. “Iger is a mammoth and he’s not going to back down."
You can read more here.