Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to visit Simi Valley in Anaheim this weekend

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is scheduled to make a rare visit to California this weekend, with stops in Simi Valley and Anaheim, where the governor hopes to promote a new book, raise money, and win early support for a likely presidential candidate.

Since he became Governor of Florida in 2019, he and California Governor Gavin Newsom have largely disagreed on their style of governorship and political beliefs. Both criticize each other, with both governors attacking each other over their COVID-19 policies. DeSantis touted the state’s reopening earlier and getting rid of mandatory mask-wearing as soon as possible, while Newsom countered that California’s stricter policies have resulted in an overall drop in COVID-19 death rates.

Governor Newsom has also frequently taken the more direct route of challenging DeSantis, such as running an ad in Florida last year touting California as the best state and promising last year to donate $100,000 to the campaign to DeSantis’ opponent as governor, Charlie Crist. He also took a direct route with Disney, the Burbank-based company that operates Disneyland and Disney World in Anaheim and Orlando, respectively. Florida’s law, dubbed the “Homosexuality Law”, polarized many Disney employees, causing many in Florida to want to move to California. Newsom took advantage of this by criticizing Florida and urging Disney not to move more offices there. While this proved only partially successful as the move to Florida was instead significantly delayed, Disney’s future in Florida was on DeSantis’ minds all week after his actions in the state assumed more direct control of the Disney World grounds.

Despite these problems, DeSantis’ popularity grew in California. In an August 2022 poll, former President Donald Trump led California Republican voters who nominated the Republican Party in 2024, with 69% of Republicans supporting him, compared to DeSantis’ 24%. However, a poll released in late February of this year showed DeSantis now holding 37% and Trump only 29% after months of worry about his viability as a candidate next year.

DeSantis in California

It is with all this that DeSantis is going to California. He is due to visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley on Sunday and then visit Anaheim to fundraise later in the evening. During the visit, DeSantis is expected to not only promote his book and discuss Newsom’s policies, but also talk about what happened to Disney in Florida and possibly hint at a likely presidential nomination next year.

“He’s someone a lot of Republicans are looking at right now,” opinion pollster Mallory Radek told the Globe Friday. “This Sunday visit is not only an early foray into critical condition, but also kind of a litmus test of what it will be like here. You can chase the politics of Newsom and California so hard. The question is, what can he do for California? This is what we need to hear.”

“We have the largest Republican delegation in the RNC. Why should Californians go with him? I mean, he’s already beating a lot, as the polls clearly show. Sunday will show us where he is with all this.”

With California being a prime primary location for both Republicans and Democrats, as well as major fundraising centers for both, DeSantis’ visit is one of the first major stops for a would-be California nominee this year. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and former President Trump are also expected to arrive soon, with Hutchinson’s visit date already set for March 20.

“We will see many, if not all, of these candidates travel through California, not only to raise funds – although this is an added advantage – but also to meet with voters to convince them why they should be our candidate,” said the chairman of the Republican Party California Jessica. Millan Patterson. “California is a double tie for candidates, given the wealth of the state’s donors and delegates.”

As for DeSantis, his visit a year before the California primary is a sort of starting weapon for candidates, as the open Republican nomination is expected to be very close at the start.

“California can make or break a hopeful candidate,” Radek added. “DeSantis is not saying if this trip is for an early visit for any reason, but in any case, if he has a successful visit on Sunday, he will only help solidify his first candidate’s leadership in the state. It’s a few talks and fundraising, but there’s still a lot at stake for him, especially if he wants approval for 2024. He’ll need California in the primaries.”

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