Boosters for former Republican Party presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) redubbed him the “future of the party” after a judge dismissed a case brought against DeSantis by the Disney Corporation.
The case stemmed from Disney’s 2022 criticism of a DeSantis-backed “parental rights in education” bill that banned teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom, reported Politico.
Disney’s criticism of that bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” by its critics, led to DeSantis taking action to dissolve the local government district in central Florida where Disney has effectively self-governed Walt Disney World since 1967.
After DeSantis followed through on the threats and the Florida legislature set up a new governing body, Disney sued DeSantis, the Secretary of Florida’s Department of Commerce, and members of the new governing body in a Tallahassee court, arguing that they’d been retaliated against for exercising their free speech.
According to an order filed today by Allen Winsor, a Trump-appointed judge overseeing the case, the court acknowledged that the change in the governing body “work[ed] to Disney’s significant detriment.” But it also maintained that “no one reading the text of the challenged laws would suppose them directed against Disney. The laws do not mention Disney.”
Because of that, and despite a history of statements by DeSantis about his motivations for the change, Judge Winsor said that Disney’s argument didn’t have any standing, and dismissed the case on both the counts Disney was alleging.
DeSantis allies immediately jumped online in reaction to the ruling to praise the governor for his role in “defeating” the company—and take digs at former President Donald Trump, who’s lost a series of high-profile civil judgments recently and faces dozens of criminal felony charges.
“Disney just lost their Federal case against Ron DeSantis,” posted @GrageDustin. “It’s refreshing to see that the future of the Republican Party actually wins his cases.”
“Another Trump L,” posted an account called DeSantis Appreciation Society over a screenshot from April last year where Trump claimed that “DeSanctus is being absolutely destroyed by Disney … this is all so unnecessary, a political STUNT!”
“DeSantis took on Disney, one of the biggest companies in the world, the largest media company worldwide, after it meddled in state politics,” posted Pedro Gonzalez, a writer for the think-tank-backed Chronicles Magazine who went all in on DeSantis. “The Democratic Party and elements of the GOP rooted for Disney, Trump sided with Disney. DeSantis still won.”
Other DeSantis boosters took the moment to call out conservative influencers who’d followed Trump’s lead in criticizing the lawsuit.
“Did your favorite ‘influencer’ lie to you and say that DeSantis lost to Disney?” wrote @MaxNordau, a popular online DeSantis influencer.
Others saw an opportunity to paint DeSantis as a winner and Trump as a loser, echoing a narrative among DeSantis supporters who believe that now that DeSantis is out of the race, the Republican Party has little chance of winning the presidential election.
“Ron DeSantis just beat Disney in federal court,” posted @SwissWatchGuy. “Donald Trump lost $83 million to E Jean Carroll. We really, really messed up as party.”
So while DeSantis unceremoniously ended his bid for president in 2024 after just one primary, his believers clearly see a future. Perhaps as early as 2028.