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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“The NAACP issued a formal travel advisory for Florida on Saturday in response to what the organization described as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools” Eliza Chasan writes at cbshews.com. “The civil rights organization is the latest to caution travelers against visiting Florida; the League of United Latin American Citizens and LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida previously issued travel advisories…..”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,” NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson said. “He should know that democracy will prevail because its defenders are prepared to stand up and fight. We’re not backing down, and we encourage our allies to join us in the battle for the soul of our nation.”….The advisory comes just days before DeSantis is expected to launch his presidential campaign….The DeSantis administration in January blocked the introduction of an Advanced Placement course for high school students that focuses on African American studies….”Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the NAACP travel notice states. “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”….Tourism is a massive industry in Florida. Around 137.6 million people visited the state in 2022, according to tourism agency Visit Florida. Visitors contributed $101.9 billion to the state’s economy and supported more than 1.7 million jobs in 2021.” In addition, Chasan writes, “The League of United Latin American Citizens [LULAC] advisory cited strict Florida laws dealing with immigrants. Organization president Domingo Garcia called the new immigration laws “hostile and dangerous,” saying they presented a clear and present danger to Latinos….”Florida is a dangerous, hostile environment for law-abiding Americans and immigrants,” Garcia said.”  Although neither LULAC or the NAACP expressly called for a boycott of Florida, as the largest organizations representing Hispanic and African Americans, respectively, it is likely that Florida will experience a significant decline in tourist revenues, which translates into lost jobs for Florida – in addition to the estimated 2,000 jobs  Florida is losing as a result of the Republican Governor’s war on Disney. All of which gives Democrats a potentially-powerful new talking point regarding the destructive effects of Republican leadership in the ‘Sunshine State.’

Not to pile on poor Gov. DeSantis, but at Newsweek, Thomas Kika reports “The conflict has, by the reckoning of many, gone poorly for the governor, with Disney outmaneuvering him legally and filing a lawsuit against the state government, alleging that it has been politically targeted for exercising its First Amendment rights. On Thursday, Disney canceled its plans to build a new $1 billion office complex in Lake Nona, Florida, citing “new leadership and changing business conditions.” The project would have brought around 2,000 new jobs to the state….With the economic impact of DeSantis’s war with Disney continuing to grow, Florida’s Republican senators in Washington, D.C., have spoken out, urging caution for the governor moving forward. Senator Rick Scott, who previously held the governorship from 2011 to 2019, noted in an interview how vital Disney is to the state’s economy, according to The Hill….”This is the biggest or second-biggest employer in the state,” Scott said. “Half the tourism that comes to our state comes to visit Disney. It’s a reason people come to our state. After they come there, people move there. So I think cooler heads need to prevail. My view is we have to do everything to help our businesses grow.”….Senator Marco Rubio, meanwhile had similar comments on the situation during an interview with Fox News last month….”I think where it gets problematic in the eyes of some people is when you start creating the idea—and I’m not saying we’re there yet as a state—but the idea that somehow if you run crossways with us politically, whoever’s in charge, then you may wind up in the crosshairs of the legislature for political purposes to make a statement at you,” Rubio said….”If it starts to be perceived that any corporate entity that’s operating directly or indirectly in furtherance of a political agenda that the powers that be don’t agree with, therefore we’re going to use the power of government to target you, you get concerned,” Rubio added.” When two Republican U.S. Senators scold their fellow Republican state governor/presidential candidate for his foolish anti-business policies, just after Democrats recapture the Mayorship of Florida’s largest city, it begins to look like the pivot point state Democrats have been seeking.

There is lots more to report about the DeSantis mess in Florida. In his article, “Biden bets DeSantis’ ‘Florida blueprint’ will help him flip the Sunshine State and win reelection” Edward-Isaac Dovere writes at CNN Politics: “Biden advisers believe they can hold up what the GOP governor calls his “Florida blueprint” as a warning to the country about what would happen if DeSantis or any other Republican wins the White House in 2024 – a human embodiment, essentially, of Biden’s argument that “MAGA extremism” goes beyond Donald Trump….And along the way, they believe the Florida governor’s record may give them a chance at the state’s 30 electoral votes….The Biden campaign has quietly started putting campaign cash and efforts into Florida – and will decide in the coming months whether to put more – as it gauges the president’s chances of reversing the reddening of a state he lost by a wider-than-expected margin in 2020….A dozen top Biden and Democratic officials, several of whom asked not speak by name in order to discuss internal plans, told CNN they’re raring to dig in on DeSantis’ championing of abortion restrictions, his ongoing fight with Disney stemming from the company’s opposition to what critics have called the “Don’t Say Gay” law, his lifting of concealed weapons permitting, his crackdown on unlawful immigration and his consistent railing over “woke” politics….Shevrin Jones, a Florida state senator and member of the Biden campaign’s advisory board of elected officials, said he’s eager to tell the country the story of what he’s seen under DeSantis’ leadership. “Freedom is not free in Florida. Businesses are not free in Florida. People are not free in Florida. No one is free in Florida. And it’s evidence of the policies that have gone forth,” the Democrat said….On a national level, Jones said, “if you want to see that again, elect Ron DeSantis.”….As DeSantis has traveled the country in the run-up to his planned campaign launch this week, Democrats have been road-testing attack lines. A mobile billboard about his onetime support for Medicare and Social Security privatization trailed the governor on his trip to Iowa in March.”

Of course, Trump also has some kindling to add to the DeSantis dumpster fire: “On the same day he was indicted by the Manhattan district attorney, Trump attacked DeSantis for signing what he called the “worst insurance scam in the entire country, with the highest rates in the entire country. That’s Florida,” Dovere writes. Naturally, “The Biden orbit has been privately cheering on every stage of the ongoing Trump-DeSantis grudge match, eager to see them cut each other down.”….The Biden campaign has started to spend. Cable and online ads in Florida were part of a multistate purchase shortly after the campaign kick-off. And the DNC leaned into Biden’s volunteer network to have what it says were over 130,000 contacts with voters ahead of last week’s Jacksonville runoff that saw Donna Deegan become just the second Democrat elected mayor in the past 30 years….A person close to the Biden campaign said that Deegan’s win was encouraging because she “ran a campaign on a platform that is a lot like the one Biden ran to build his coalition – a focus on kitchen table issues, unity over division and culture wars” and that the city going Democratic after turning out strongly for DeSantis last November “sends a strong signal to folks who count Democrats out of Florida.”….Biden aides are also hoping the president will benefit in Florida not just from the contrast with Republicans, but from his own agenda: the reduction in prescription drug costs and an insulin price cap to appeal to the state’s senior population; the climate change mitigation to appeal to young people in a state that has seen significant storms; and infrastructure investments that have poured into Florida from the federal legislation….Meanwhile, abortion rights supporters in Florida are working to put a measure on the ballot to allow abortions up until a fetus is deemed viable and have begun to collect the nearly 900,000 signatures needed by next February. There are other hurdles the effort would need to clear, but as in other states, many involved believe this will be a huge turnout booster for Democratic voters – especially in the wake of DeSantis signing a bill banning most abortions after six weeks.”

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