Posts tagged with "Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R)"

Fox News to air DeSantis vs. Newsom debate on November 30

November 28, 2023

They aren’t running against each other. Still, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) will take their fiery feud to Fox News this week in a debate moderated by Sean Hannity—offering up a head-to-head that stretches the boundaries of traditional political programming, reports The Wall Street Journal.

After trading barbs in the media for more than a year over issues from COVID-era restrictions to immigration, DeSantis and Newsom are scheduled to face off for 90 minutes on Thursday, November 30, in Georgia.

In an interview with the Journal, Hannity—who came up with the idea—described Newsom and DeSantis as “two of the biggest, most interesting governors in the country and they have diametrically opposed political views, visions for how to run their states.”

Fox News and other cable networks air plenty of debates and town halls featuring candidates. Because Newsom and DeSantis aren’t running for the same job, the November 30 event is more akin to cable’s version of an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout for politicians—taking an interesting fight happening outside the core election race and putting a spotlight on it.

Just weeks ago, Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, debated Representative Ro Khanna (D- California) in New Hampshire. The debate covered topics including the economy, foreign affairs and climate change.

The two-person debate format comes in contrast with recent Republican primary debates, which featured a crowded field of candidates—but not the front-runner for the nomination, Donald Trump, who chose not to attend.

“Trump is very present by his absence in these debates,” said Jane Hall, a professor in the School of Communication at American University and the author of “Politics and the Media: Intersections and New Directions.”

DeSantis, who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, has struggled to portray himself as a viable alternative to former President Donald Trump and is seeing former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley gain traction. Recent polls in Iowa—the first state to vote in the nomination battle—have shown DeSantis slightly ahead of Haley for second place, both well behind Trump.

For Newsom, the debate offers a chance to further establish himself as a leader of the Democratic Party on a national stage and position himself as a legitimate contender for the presidency down the line.

“It’s a chance to get a lot of viewership,” Hall said. “There’s an entertainment value in seeing people go after each other.”

In July, Hannity, a mainstay of Fox News’s prime-time lineup and the ratings leader in his time slot, held a town hall with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is now running for president as an Independent. He also said he would be eager to have more Democrats on his show.

Joe Biden, he’s at the top of the list. Kamala Harris, number two; Barack Obama’s number three,” said Hannity, who hasn’t asked any of them recently to appear on his show. “The odds of that happening are zero, zero, and zero.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Awkward silence: Ron DeSantis’s bold Twitter gambit flopped

May 26, 2023

It was the announcement not heard around the world. Ron DeSantis plotted to open his presidential campaign early on Wednesday evening, May 24, with a pioneering social media gambit—introducing himself during an audio-only Twitter forum with Elon Musk. His 2024 effort began instead with a moment of silence. Then several more, reports The New York Times correspondent Matt Flegenheimer.

A voice cut in, then two—Musk’s?—only to disappear again. “Now it’s quiet,” someone whispered. This was true.

“We got so many people here that we are kind of melting the servers,” said David Sacks, the nominal moderator, “which is a good sign.” This was not true.

Soon, all signs were bad. Hold music played for a spell. Some users were summarily booted from the platform, where hundreds of thousands of accounts had gathered to listen.

“The servers are straining somewhat,” Musk said at one point—perhaps unaware that his mic was hot, at least briefly.

For 25 minutes, the only person unmistakably not talking (at least on a microphone) was DeSantis.

The Florida governor’s chosen rollout venue was always going to be a risk, an aural gamble on Musk, a famously capricious and oxygen-stealing co-star, as well as the persuasive powers of DeSantis’s own disembodied voice. (“Whiny,” Donald Trump has called him.)

But the higher-order downsides proved more relevant. Twitter’s streaming tool, known as Spaces, has been historically glitchy. Executive competence, core to the DeSantis campaign message, was conspicuously absent. And for a politician credibly accused through the years of being incorrigibly online—a former DeSantis aide said he regularly read his Twitter mentions—”the event amounted to hard confirmation, a zeitgeisty exercise devolving instead into a conference call from hell,”  Flegemheimer wrote.

“You can tell from some of the mistakes that it’s real,” Musk said.

At 6:26 p.m., DeSantis finally announced himself—long after his campaign had announced his intentions, reading from a script that often parroted an introduction video and an email sent to reporters more than 20 minutes earlier.

“Well,” he opened, “I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback.”

After ticking through a curated biography that noted his military background and his “energetic” bearing, DeSantis stayed onine. Sacks, a tech entrepreneur who is close with Musk, acknowledged the earlier mess.

“Thank you for putting up with these technical issues,” he said. “What made you want to kind of take the chance of doing it this way?”

DeSantis swerved instantly to his Covid-era stewardship of Florida.

“Do you go with the crowd?” he asked, recalling his expert-flouting decision-making, “or do you look at the data yourself and cut against the grain?”

Rivals agreed: If he hoped to differentiate himself, Mr. DeSantis had succeeded, in his way.

“‘Rob,’ Trump posted on Truth Social, a standard troll-by-misspelling, winding to a confusing (if potentially juvenile) punchline: “My Red Button is bigger, better, stronger, and is working.”

Even Fox News piled on.

“Want to actually see and hear Ron DeSantis?” read a pop-up banner on its website. “Tune into Fox News at 8 p.m. (ET)” (Urging donations once he got on the air, DeSantis wondered if supporters might “break that part of the internet as well.”)

Minor as a tech snag might prove in the long run, it was a dispiriting turn for DeSantis after months of meticulous political choreography.

So much of his strength as a contender over the past year was theoretical, said Flegenheimer: the mystery-box candidate constructing a national profile on his terms: slayer of liberals, smasher of foes, the Trumpy non-Trump.

He would conquer and coast. He would Make America Florida. He would be a sight to behold. Presumably.

The reality of DeSantis’s pre-candidacy has been less imposing, shadowed by uneasy public appearances, skittish donors, and a large polling gap between him and Trump.

With better tech, perhaps, a visual-free campaign debut might have been a clever way to rediscover that past aura, to let listeners fill in the mystery box as they choose, before Trump tries to chuck it offstage.

Or maybe the governor’s ostensible advantages—looking the part, before the full audition—were always doomed to translate poorly on Wednesday, when there was nothing to see. It is difficult to project indomitable swagger and take-on-all-comer-ism at an invisible gathering devoid of non-friendly questioning or workaday voters.

Research contact: @nytimes

NAACP issues travel warning for Florida: The state ‘has become hostile to Black Americans’

May 23, 2023

The NAACP issued a formal travel advisory for Florida on Saturday, May 20—saying the state has become “hostile to Black Americans” under Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s (R) leadership, reports The Hill.

“On a seeming quest to silence African-American voices, the Governor and the State of Florida have shown that African-Americans are not welcome in the State of Florida,” the travel advisory reads.

“Due to this sustained, blatant, relentless, and systemic attack on democracy and civil rights, the NAACP hereby issues a travel advisory to African-Americans, and other people of color regarding the hostility towards African-Americans in Florida,” the group added.

The advisory points to several of DeSantis’s controversial policies, including legislation he signed Monday, May 22, to prohibit colleges from spending public funds on diversity, equity. and inclusion efforts.

The Florida governor also previously signed the Stop WOKE Act, which restricts how workplaces and schools can discuss race during required training or instruction—and which blocked an Advanced Placement African American Studies course in the state’s public schools, claiming it lacked “educational value.”

“Let me be clear—failing to teach an accurate representation of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced and continue to face is a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in the statement. 

“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the State of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon,” Johnson added.

Research contact: @thehill

Disney pulls the plug on $1 billion development in Florida

May 22, 2023

On Thursday, May 18, Disney CEO Robert E. Iger and Josh D’Amaro, Disney’s theme park and consumer products chairman, pulling the plug on an office complex that was scheduled for construction in Orlando at a cost of roughly $1 billion. It would have brought more than 2,000 Disney jobs to the region, with $120,000 as the average salary, according to an estimate from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The project, near Lake Nona Town Center, was supposed to cost $864 million, but recent price estimates have been closer to $1.3 billion. Disney had planned to relocate thousands of workers from Southern California to an area near Orlando’s Lake Nona Town Center—including most of a department known as Imagineering, which works with Disney’s movie studios to develop theme park attractions.

The New York Times reports that the move comes after Disney, in early March, came out against Florida’s Parental Rights In Education bill. The so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill was passed by Florida’s House and Senate at the behest of presidential hopeful, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The bill limits discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

Immediately following Disney’s comments, the Times says, DeSantis pledged that a newly formed oversight board would review and evaluate development in the 25,000 square acres in and around Walt Disney World. However, Disney moved first, to head off DeSantis and leave the committee virtually “toothless,” with no power.

In April, the Times notes, Disney sued the governor and his allies for what it called “a targeted campaign of government retaliation”—and the company made it clear that $17 billion in planned investment in Walt Disney World was on the line.

“Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes, or not?” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said on an earnings-related conference call with analysts last week.

Most of the affected 2,000  employees complained bitterly about having to move —some quit—but Disney held firm, partly because of a Florida tax credit that would have allowed the company to recoup as much as $570 million over 20 years for building and occupying the complex.

When he announced the project in 2021, D’Amaro cited “Florida’s business-friendly climate” as justification.

D’Amaro’s tone in an email to employees on Thursday was notably chillier. He cited “changing business conditions” as a reason for canceling the Lake Nona project. “I remain optimistic about the direction of our Walt Disney World business,” D’Amaro said in the memo. He noted that $17 billion was still earmarked for construction at Disney World over the next decade—growth that would create an estimated 13,000 jobs. “I hope we’re able to,” he said.

The memo, which was viewed by The New York Times, did not mention DeSantis. But the company’s battle with the governor and his allies in the Florida Legislature figured prominently into Disney’s decision to cancel the Lake Nona project, according to two people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

A spokesman for Mr. DeSantis said in an email: “Disney announced the possibility of a Lake Nona campus nearly two years ago. Nothing ever came of the project, and the state was unsure whether it would come to fruition. Given the company’s financial straits, falling market cap, and declining stock price, it is unsurprising that they would restructure their business operations and cancel unsuccessful ventures.”

Florida officials have repeatedly pointed to the Lake Nona development as an example of economic vibrancy in Orlando, which suffered mightily during the pandemic. Noting that hotel chains and retailers were moving into the Lake Nona area in anticipation of Disney’s arrival, The Orlando Business Journal in January called the complex “a major economic driver for the region.”

In a statement, Jerry L. Demings, the mayor of Orange County, which includes Orlando, said it was “unfortunate” that Disney canceled its plans. “However, these are the consequences when there isn’t an inclusive and collaborative work environment between the state of Florida and the business community,” Demings said.

Research contact: @nytimes

Sununu on Trump: ‘Thank you for your service, we’re moving on’

March 7, 2023

Former President Donald Trump won’t become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2024, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R) predicted during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, March 5.

“He’s not going to be the nominee, that’s just not going to happen,” Sununu said, according to a report by Axios—adding the GOP is looking for fresh leadership.

“Thank you for your service, we’re moving on,” he said. “I just don’t believe the Republican Party is going to say that the best leadership for America tomorrow is yesterday’s leadership. That doesn’t make any sense.”

“We want the next generation, the next big idea, and that’s what we’re going to deliver.”

Sununu added that he believed that ,if the election were held now, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) would win both New Hampshire and Florida.

Trump has repeatedly attacked DeSantis, whom he fears is the only candidate who could last with him in a long, bitter campaign for the 2024 GOP nomination.

Sununu also spoke about the need for the Republican Party to attract independent voters and the next generation of “potential Republicans.” He said, “Republicans cannot win without Independents. It cannot happen.”

 Others agree with him: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) announced on Sunday that he is not running for president in 2024, saying the GOP “must move on from Mr. Trump.”

“There are several competent Republican leaders who have the potential to step up and lead,” Hogan wrote in a New York Times opinion essay.

“But the stakes are too high for me to risk being part of another multicar pileup that could potentially help Mr. Trump recapture the nomination,” he added.

Sununu acknowledged last month that he is “definitely thinking about” a 2024 bid for president, himself. Sununu did not acknowledge a potential run during Sunday’s program and noted that he hasn’t ruled out running for re-election as governor.

Research contact: @axios

Haley plans to announce presidential run, as GOP race starts slowly

February 2, 2023

Nikki Haley, a former United Nations ambassador and governor of South Carolina, is planning to announce that she will run for president—positioning herself to be the first declared Republican challenger to Donald Trump at a time when other prospective candidates have sput the brakes on their moves, reports The Washington Post.

Haley could release a video signaling her decision as soon as this week, a strategy—as described by multiple people briefed on the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity—intended to drive attendance and enthusiasm for an in-person announcement event in the coming weeks.

She plans to officially announce her run in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 15, according to one person briefed on the plans—a date first reported by the Post and Courier newspaper in that city. Some political advisers have been relocating to the Charleston area for the campaign.

Haley’s decision to lean into the race bucks the more cautious strategy adopted by most other potential candidates, who have decided there is no need to rush their preparations. Advisers to these Republicans, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, said there is wariness about becoming an early target of former President Trump.

Some of the advisers also voiced hope that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who has made preliminary moves toward a run, faces early scrutiny because of his high national polling—scrutiny that could work to their advantage. They added that there is a general sense in their circles that there is enough time to learn more about how the race will play out and still attract donors, get on ballots, and build campaign infrastructure.

“There’s no benefit to being in early,” said David Urban, a former Trump adviser who is friendly with multiple would-be 2024 candidates. “You don’t want to be in the ring getting banged on by the former president in a one-on-one. There’s no reason anyone has to get in right now. There’s no urgency for anyone. Everyone is sitting and waiting.”

Much of the consequential action in the race so far has taken place in private conversations and strategy sessions rather than early-state barnstorms, such as methodical preparation by aides to former Vice President Mike Pence, and DeSantis advisers’ behind-the-scenes moves to identify potential staff and plan travel.

Even Trump has moved slowly after his early announcement. The former president hit the trail this past weekend for the first time since launching his campaign in November, promising a campaign “about the future” and “about issues” even as he returned to some old grievances — falsely telling Republicans in New Hampshire that he “won two general elections,” a reference to his claims of victory in 2020. Some Republican leaders have urged the party to move on and view the ex-president as politically weakened after disappointing midterms in which Trump’s endorsed candidates lost key races.

There are also Republicans who maintain hope that Trump might simply lose interest in running; they note that he has not filed a personal financial disclosure report, asking for two extensions. But others view Trump as the most likely GOP nominee, pointing to the demonstrated base of support he has built within the party that others have yet to match.

Speaking in New Hampshire and then South Carolina on Saturday, the former president—appearing at smaller-scale events than he typically held in past campaigns—promised a return “soon” to the big rallies he is known for and insisted, “I’m more angry now, and I’m more committed now than I ever was.”

Haley, who served as U.N. ambassador under Trump, said in 2021 that she wouldn’t run for president if Trump did. But she later changed course and during the past few months has been teasing campaign plans. In a recent interview with Fox News, Haley indicated she was moving quickly toward a decision and said there’s a need for “new leadership.”

“And can I be that leader? Yes, I think I can be that leader,” she said. If she won the GOP nomination, Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, would be the first woman and the first Asian American to lead the party’s ticket.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Florida judge orders Ron DeSantis to turn over records on migrant flights

October 28, 2022

 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) must turn over records connected with migrant flights from Texas to Massachusetts, a Florida judge ruled on Tuesday, October 25, saying his administration had failed to comply with the state’s public records law, reports HuffPost.

 The governor’s office says it intends to appeal the decision, claiming that DeSantis already has provided “a significant number” of documents on the controversial flights, despite being preoccupied with Hurricane Ian.

This month, the open government group Florida Center for Government Accountability (FLCGA) filed a lawsuit seeking to compel DeSantis to release public records related to two charter flights he ordered that took 48 migrants, many of them Venezuelan, from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

 A judge in Leon County, Florida, J. Lee Marsh, ruled against the governor and ordered his office to turn over the public records that FLCGA requested within 20 days. These records include phone and text logs of James Uthmeier, the governor’s chief of staff, who helped transport migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

The governor’s office did not show “any steps, direct steps taken to gather what this court finds are public records,” Marsh said.

 DeSantis also is facing lawsuits from migrants who were left stranded after being flown to the Massachusetts island. What’s more, a Texas sheriff is investigating whether the migrants, who were given false promises of work and shelter before they were flown to Massachusetts as a political stunt, were defrauded.

 Another investigation, launched in October by the Treasury Department’s inspector general, is investigating whether DeSantis “improperly used” money from COVID-19 aid to pay for the flights.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Florida governor announces $5.1M plan to secure election systems for 2020

June 19, 2019

The State of Florida won’t be counting any “hanging chads” after the 2020 election, if Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has anything to say about it. He launched a $5.1 million statewide initiative on June 18, aimed at securing voting systems against cyberattacks ahead of the next presidential elections.

“I am pleased to announce that the Secretary of State and all 67 Supervisors of Elections will engage in a cooperative, joint cybersecurity initiative ahead of the 2020 elections that will identify and address any vulnerabilities in our elections infrastructure,”  DeSantis noted in an official statement.

“Additionally,” he said, “the Department of State [DOS] will redistribute $2.3 million in funding to Supervisors of Elections so they can continue to make any necessary election security upgrades, in addition to the $2.8 million already appropriated for the fiscal year. In total, the state is giving $5.1 million for elections cybersecurity as we head into 2020.”

DOS and Supervisors of Elections will conduct a thorough elections-specific assessment and evaluate weaknesses in Florida’s elections systems as well as identify the potential for “human vulnerabilities,” DeSantis avowed, adding, “Any weaknesses or vulnerabilities that are identified at the state or county level will be addressed or mitigated prior to the 2020 Presidential Preference Primary in March 2020.”

In addition, DOS Cyber Navigators will provide cybersecurity trainings for DOS, Supervisors of Elections and staff; as well as work with the DOS Information Technology team to provide IT support to small counties with limited resources.

“I applaud Governor DeSantis for making election security a top priority for his administration and I commend Florida’s 67 Supervisors of Elections for their strong willingness to work together to ensure our elections are protected, commented Secretary of State Laurel Lee. “The Department of State will ensure that no county stands alone against foreign threats to Florida’s elections, and that every Floridian can have confidence in the integrity of our elections and the security of their vote.”

“On behalf of Florida’s Supervisors of Elections, we greatly appreciate Governor DeSantis’ commitment to election security as well as the redistribution of $2.3 million in funding to support our efforts,” said Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections President Tammy Jones. “All 67 Supervisors of Elections stand ready to partner with the Secretary of State on this important initiative and we look forward to working together to keep Florida’s elections secure in 2020 and beyond.”

Research contact: @GovRonDeSantis