Viva Las Vegas, starring Ron DeSantis – POLITICO – POLITICO

Hello and welcome to Monday.

Breaking overnightDisney ousted Bob Chapek, the CEO who clashed with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the state’s contentious “Parental Rights in Education” law that was called the ‘Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, and replaced him with former chief executive Bob Iger.

Viva Las Vegas DeSantis took his show on the road to Sin City this past weekend and by some accounts he got a bit of rock star reception — as well as national and even international media coverage.

A Little Less Conversation DeSantis appeared during a Saturday evening slot at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting, which also featured numerous other potential GOP contenders for 2024. Former President Donald Trump, who declared his candidacy last week, addressed the group by satellite.

One Night DeSantis did take time out at the start of his speech to stress his record when it comes to Israel, including his decision to hold a Cabinet meeting in the country during his first year in office. But most of the address was equal parts victory lap after his 20-point blowout win over Democrat Charlie Crist as well as a recurring list of accomplishments and lines that have come up in most of his campaign speeches (including an oft-repeated quip about “oceanfront property in Arizona”).

That’s All Right The roughly half-hour speech that covered battles over Covid-19 policy and education in other words had the trademarks of something that could serve as a good introduction to GOP voters looking for an alternative to Trump without being overtly confrontational with the former president. He stressed that his victory was affirmation that “Florida really is showing a way out of this morass and this mess, but you got to be willing to do it and you got to be successful in implementing it and in times like these, there is no substitute for victory.”

All Shook Up There was one intriguing moment where DeSantis — who emphasized during his reelection campaign how he pushed the Legislature to limit the collection of mail-in ballots by non-family members — said that Republicans should engage in “ballot harvesting” in states where it remains legal. “You can’t just let them do it. … Whatever the rules are, take advantage of it.” Was this a shot at Trump, since the former president wants to ban mail-in voting completely? It wasn’t entirely clear.

Suspicious Minds Of course there were lots of potential GOP contenders who also made the trip to Vegas and at least one was skeptical about whether DeSantis will be the one who takes down Trump. Outgoing Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told reporters that DeSantis is a “young guy” who hasn’t even be sworn in for his second term. He said he knows most of the media is “focused” on DeSantis. But, he added: “Six months is an eternity in politics, and I can tell you in almost every race I’ve ever seen, the guy that comes out the box first that everybody’s talking about two years out is almost never the nominee.”

— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Florida Playbook will off for Thanksgiving this Thursday and Friday but back to our normal schedule on Monday, Nov. 28.

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WE’RE HERE2024 Republican rivals put Trump on notice, by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt: If former President Donald Trump thought his early 2024 announcement would cow prospective Republican primary rivals into submission, he clearly miscalculated. At this weekend’s Republican Jewish Coalition conference, a parade of ambitious Republicans hit all the notes that politicians eyeing future campaigns for the White House typically do. Their tones and messages varied — few called out Trump by name — but collectively they made clear they are not going to back down to the former president after a third consecutive poor election with him at the helm.

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS— “DeSantis, others draw distinctions with Trump in 2024 GOP nomination race,” by Wall Street Journal’s Alex Leary: “No one generated more excitement than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had the prime-time speaking slot Saturday and walked on stage to a reception unmatched by others. ‘Florida really has a blueprint for success,’ said Mr. DeSantis, whose resounding re-election victory strengthened his position as the leading GOP alternative to Mr. Trump. He highlighted his rejection of Covid-19 policies and fight with Walt Disney Co. ‘We’ve got a lot more to do and I have only begun to fight.’”

— “Florida’s DeSantis to GOP Jews: ‘Judea and Samaria is not occupied, but disputed,’” by The Times of Israel’s Luke Tress and Times of Israel staff

— “DeSantis, Haley present themselves to GOP Jews as Trump’s top challengers,” by Haaretz’s Ben Samuels

TAKE IT SLOW — “Why DeSantis is shrugging off Trump — for now,” by The Hill’s Max Greenwood and Amie Parnes: “But [Kevin] Madden also said that DeSantis — or anyone else looking to jump into the next presidential race — should also look to 2016, when Trump first won the Republican nomination, as a cautionary tale. Back then, Trump’s competitors looked at him more as a burden than a genuine threat. Consequently, Madden said, they found themselves pummeled relentlessly by Trump. ‘At some point you have to take your opponent head on,’ he said. ‘The work is not going to be done for you.’”

JET SET— “Wealthy donors finance DeSantis’ sojourns across U.S., Florida,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Jeffrey Schweers: “A group of super-wealthy people helped foot the bill as Gov. Ron DeSantis barnstormed Florida and the rest of the country campaigning for his reelection and stumping for political allies running up to the midterm elections this month. They include hoteliers, developers, restaurateurs, investment brokers, trucking magnates, health executives, gas station and convenience store owners, and oil distributors, some of whom benefited from appointments to state boards and from laws enacted by DeSantis.”

— “2024 GOP presidential hopefuls in no rush to jump in against Trump,” by NBC News’ Jonathan Allen, Marc Caputo and Garrett Haake

— “A weakened Trump tries again. Can a challenger take him down in 2024?” by Washington Post’s Dan Balz

— “After winning the Senate, Democrats’ campaign chief warns GOP: Trump will continue to drag you down,” by NBC News’ Sahil Kapur

— “How Trump vs. DeSantis is playing on Miami’s conservative Spanish-language media,” by Miami Herald’s Andres Viglucci and Lesley Cosme Torres

REBOOT — Musk draws fire after lifting Twitter ban on Donald Trump, by POLITICO’s Rebecca Kern: Elon Musk said that Donald Trump will be “reinstated” on Twitter, making good on his promise to lift the ban on the former president, who had been banished for violating the platform’s rules against inciting violence. Musk had posted a Twitter poll on Friday, asking users to weigh in on whether Trump should be allowed to return, and late on Saturday the tech billionaire tweeted that based on the results of the poll “The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated.” As of Saturday night, Trump’s account was live on the platform.

ART OF THE DEAL— “Trump family’s newest partners: Middle Eastern governments,” by The New York Times’ Eric Lipton and Maggie Haberman: “When former President Donald J. Trump returned briefly last week to his office at Trump Tower in New York, he was joined by his son Eric Trump and the top executive of a Saudi Arabian real estate company to sign a deal that creates new conflict-of-interest questions for his just-launched presidential campaign. The deal is with a Saudi real estate company, which intends to build a Trump-branded hotel, villas and a golf course as part of a $4 billion real estate project in Oman.”

New Trump special counsel launches investigation in Mueller’s shadow, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney

Former finance chief for Trump Organization wraps up testimony, by POLITICO’s Danielle Muoio Dunn

WHITHER SCOTT NOW— “Rick Scott didn’t flip the Senate for Republicans, then he lost to McConnell. Now what?” by Tampa Bay Times’ Emily L. Mahoney: “The back-to-back losses of both the Senate majority and the effort to oust [Sen. Mitch] McConnell prompted some insiders, including Republicans, to question the wisdom of [Sen. Rick] Scott’s strategy and where it leaves him longer-term. Scott has been rumored to have national ambitions, but some observers wonder if these events could leave him the odd man out among Florida’s ambitious leaders as former President Donald Trump announces his 2024 run and Gov. Ron DeSantis basks in heightening presidential buzz. Sen. Marco Rubio also won reelection by a double-digit landslide.”

REQUEST— “Biden asks Congress for nearly $30 billion in disaster aid for Florida, Puerto Rico,” by Miami Herald’s Bianca Padró Ocasio: “President Joe Biden is asking Congress to allocate over $37 billion in aid for Florida, Puerto Rico and other parts of the country recently affected by natural disasters, less than two weeks before the official end of the 2022 hurricane season. The Biden administration’s push for disaster relief comes alongside its recent request for additional COVID-19 funds and aid to Ukraine, as Congress reconvenes to pass a spending bill to fund the U.S. government for the rest of the fiscal year by Dec. 16.”

QUO WARRANTO TIME — “Appeals court nominations for Rep. Beltran, Judge Smith challenged,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Romy Ellenbogen: “A state lawmaker is challenging the eligibility of three candidates for Florida’s new 6th District Court of Appeal because the candidates don’t live within the district. A judicial nominating commission put forward 18 names to Gov. Ron DeSantis for three seats on the appeals court, including two Tampa Bay residents: Republican state Rep. Mike Beltran and Hillsborough Circuit Judge Jared Smith. It also recommended Leon County Circuit Judge Stephen Everett.”

NEW RULES — Incoming Florida House Speaker Paul Renner recommended changes on Friday to the existing House rules, including one that would remove the requirement that members file actual bills detailing budget spending requests. But the recommended rules also have language that states that a “material disruption of official legislative business” is grounds for discipline.

Context — This change follows the April protest by several Democratic legislators over redistricting changes that included the dismantling of the seat held by Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat from North Florida. House legislators approved a new congressional map over the chants of Democrats. Rep. Angie Nixon, one of those involved in protest, took to Twitter to say: “Hmmmmm. Maybe disruptions wouldn’t occur if bills weren’t discriminatory in nature.” Leon County GOP chair Evan Power responded back to Nixon “just don’t throw hissy fits, problem solved.” Nixon retorted: “And clearly you have me confused with your former leader that threw a hissy fit that led to an insurrection because he lost the election.”

— “Florida pro-choice advocates are ready to fight if GOP supermajority targets abortion access,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Caroline Catherman

FOLLOW THE MONEY — “Over $1.4 million in Florida taxpayer dollars still unaccounted for in migrant flight program,” by Miami Herald’s Nicholas Nehamas and Sarah Blaskey: “Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has so far paid more than $1.56 million to a politically connected contractor for a program to fly migrants from Texas to northeastern states — but the private jets chartered by the contractor cost only a fraction of that sum. Newly released public records show the contractor, Destin, Florida-based Vertol Systems Company, was quoted a total price of roughly $153,000 for two charter plane trips from San Antonio to the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard.”

GOODBYE BOB, HELLO BOB — “In Hollywood stunner, Robert Iger returns to head Disney as Bob Chapek exits,” by Los Angeles Times’ Meg James and Ryan Faughnder: “In a blockbuster development, Walt Disney Co.’s longtime chief Robert Iger is returning to lead the Burbank-based entertainment giant. The Sunday night announcement by the Disney board — made shortly before Disney+ began its high-profile livestream of the Elton John concert at Dodger Stadium — stunned Hollywood. The switch comes less than a year since Iger said his long goodbye after a storybook 15-year run as chief executive.”

WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? — “Innocence Sold: Florida hotels have stacked up thousands of violations of a 2019 sex-trafficking law. But not one has been fined,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s David Fleshler, Spencer Norris and Brittany Wallman: “More than 14,000 such citations have been issued to 6,669 hotels and other public lodging establishments for violating the law, which requires employees to be trained to recognize and report trafficking for sex or forced labor. Violators are subject to fines of up to $2,000 a day. But the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has not issued a single fine, even though more than 100 hotels and other lodging establishments have racked up at least six violations each, the South Florida Sun Sentinel has found.”

CC: JEFF BEZOS— “Despite jobs and tax revenue, some Florida cities aren’t opening their gates for Amazon,” by Palm Beach Post’s Mike Diamond: “The closer it comes to established residential communities, the stronger the pushback. This has been especially true in Palm Beach County, but there has been opposition in Daytona Beach and Fort Myers as well. Amazon suffered its first setback in Florida when the Village of Golf, a town of just 300 people west of Boynton Beach in Palm Beach County, rejected its plans in May 2021 for a $25 million ‘last-mile’ distribution warehouse. Staff said the project ‘is not in keeping with the quality of life’ within the village.”

‘TAKEN OVER EVERYTHING’ — “As DeSantis injects politics into school boards, parents are getting more influence,” by Miami Herald’s Sommer Brugal: “As Gov. Ron Desantis injects partisan politics into local school boards — and as Miami-Dade and Broward school boards swear in new members Tuesday — the exchange between [Lubby] Navarro and [Andrea] Pita Mendez highlights a growing dissonance between young people, parents and school board members about what the main mission of the nine-member boards is. Are they stewards of the students or are they there to placate the parents, who in the last year have increasingly been flexing their muscles in Florida, thanks to new laws that embolden them?”

— “Police escort hecklers. Proud Boys jeer. Miami school board becoming ‘hostile,’” by Miami Herald’s Sommer Brugal

SENTENCED — “Paycheck Protection Program fraud sends South Florida political consultant to prison,” by Palm Beach Post’s Jane Musgrave: “A 42-year-old Royal Palm Beach political consultant was sentenced this week to 15 months in prison for lying to get $212,500 in loans designed to help businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic. Omar Smith, who served as an adviser to failed Democratic congressional candidate Dale Holness and others, repaid the loan before he was sentenced after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.”

— “‘It’s my reality show’: Broward superintendent’s firing caps off 3 months of School Board drama,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Scott Travis

— “Times-Union analysis shows minor shift in Black residents from ‘racially gerrymandered’ districts,” by Florida Times-Union’s David Bauerlein

— “Florida’s jobless rate climbs after Hurricane Ian,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner

— “North Miami is still considering changing its local election date. Residents are concerned,” by Miami Herald’s Raisa Habersham

— “Snarly texts show Willhite-McKinlay county feud simmered before and after election,” by Palm Beach Post’s Mike Diamond

— “Prosecutors: Reduced sentence, prison time for Gaetz friend,” by The Associated Press’ Mike Schneider: “A former Florida tax collector whose arrest on sex trafficking and identity theft charges led to a probe of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz should get his sentence reduced for cooperating with authorities, but he still deserves prison time to send a message that no public official is above the law, federal prosecutors said in court papers. Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg is facing a 12-year prison sentence when he is sentenced in federal court in Orlando, Florida in two weeks. But he has been cooperating with federal agents and has provided assistance in several probes, leading prosecutors to ask for a reduced sentence.”

BIRTHDAYS: Political consultant, Lincoln Project co-founder and author Rick Wilson … state Rep. Rick Roth… former Rep. Tom Rooney … journalist Nancy Cook Lauer

Birthweek: Alan Faena, hotelier and real estate developer (Was Sunday) Brad Bauman of Fireside Campaigns (Was Saturday)

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