Happy Monday! We hope you’re having a better day than the congressional intern who got dumped last week in a Senate elevator. Danny Jativa, a staffer for Sen. Tim Scott, witnessed the tragic scene: “People kept piling into the elevator as it stopped on every floor. The poor fella started breathing more heavy. We finally got to the basement where I exited so I could buy my much deserved Snapple.”
Up to Speed
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spent last week on a “trade mission” representing his state with visits to Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, in what was widely seen as an attempt to boost his international profile ahead of a likely presidential bid. The trip generated photo-ops with leaders like South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, but also a new raft of unfortunate headlines for DeSantis. One businessman who met with the governor during a U.K. business summit told Politico “he was horrendous” and “his message wasn’t presidential.”
- A super PAC aligned with former Vice President Mike Pence’s looming presidential campaign is set to launch in mid May, which Politico’s Adam Wren characterized as the “prelude to an official campaign that is betting heavily on performing well in Iowa.” Check out the Dispatch Podcast’s recent interview with Pence here.
- West Virginia’s Republican Gov. Jim Justice officially announced on Thursday his campaign for Senate in 2024, for a seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. The same day of Justice’s announcement, Manchin released a statement saying “I will win any race I enter,” fueling speculation that he might launch a third-party presidential campaign rather than run for reelection in West Virginia.
- South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said on Sunday he will make a “major announcement” on May 22 in Charleston, teasing a long-anticipated bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
- In a 5-2 ruling filed on Friday, the new GOP majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court overturned its earlier ruling that the state’s previously Republican-drawn congressional and state legislative maps were illegal gerrymanders, paving the way for the GOP-controlled general assembly to redraw the Tar Heel State’s congressional maps ahead of 2024.
Will DeSantis’ Disney Fight Hurt Him?
Ron DeSantis has made his crusade against Disney’s “woke ideology” a signature issue, but some of his likely 2024 opponents see a chance to make it a political liability for the Florida governor.
Former President Donald Trump jeered that DeSantis “is being absolutely destroyed by Disney” and derided his anti-Mickey moves as “a political STUNT.” Last week, former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley followed suit, suggesting that Walt Disney World should move from Florida to South Carolina—a state that is “not woke, but we’re not sanctimonious about it either.”
But DeSantis hasn’t shied away from the Disney conflict, which he mines for applause in speeches and doubles down on at every chance while speaking to reporters. As he gears up for an expected White House run, DeSantis is betting Republican voters will reward him for his willingness to go after huge targets in a culture war between traditional values and progressive standards of corporate America.