Disney Just Found a Backdoor Into Florida Politics

in Disney, Walt Disney World

A man wearing a black suit stands with his left hand on his chin, smiling. Next to him, a woman wearing a black graduation gown and cap stands at a podium, smiling. In the middle, an animated image of Mickey Mouse, symbolizing the magic of Disney World in Central Florida's House District 45, waves cheerfully.

Leonard Spencer and Carolina Amesty running for the Disney's Florida House Seat. Credit: @carolina_amesty and @Leonardkspencer on X

For years, Walt Disney World has been outside politics in Central Florida. Since the feud began between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Mouse House has had to watch as the Florida Legislature created laws that adversely impacted them without any way of responding.

Ron DeSantis giving a thumbs up in front of the Magic Kingdom entrance sign under a blue sky.
Credit: Inside the Magic

The feud started after former Disney CEO Bob Chapek responded to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, known by its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Gov Ron DeSantis responded by stripping Disney World of the Reedy Creek Improvement District and replacing it with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

But all that seems like ancient history. Walt Disney World and Governor Ron DeSantis have paused their cases against each other, and Disney World and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District have settled their lawsuit. This week, It was announced that the Walt Disney Co. will restart its political donations for this election cycle.

Disney World has also found a backdoor into the Florida Legislature: having former executives run for office in the District that contains most of the Walt Disney World Resort. Former Disney Executive Leonard Spencer announced that he would challenge Republican State Representative Carolina Amesty for her seat representing Florida House District 45.

Leonard Spencer, former Disney executive
Leonard Spencer, former Disney executive. Credit: @leonardkspencer on X

Leonard Spencer has strong ties to The Walt Disney Company, which will help him in a District that represents most of the former Reedy Creek Improvement District and has many Disney World employees living there.

Spencer worked for Disney for 16 years, four of which as finance manager and seven as director of supplier diversity and sustainability.

Since 2021, Leonard Spencer has been a senior manager of supplier engagement at Amazon, where he helped corporate institutions improve supplier diversity and inclusion efforts.

His opponent, Carolina Amesty, has been involved in some controversy lately. This week, she dropped a lawsuit against the Orlando Sentinel after the paper published what she called “defamatory coverage” of her family’s private school.

Rep. Carolina Amesty with former President Donald Trump
Rep. Carolina Amesty with former President Donald Trump. Credit: @carolina_amesty on X

Amesty is a close ally of Gov. Ron DeSantis. She sponsored the bill, creating the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which currently oversees Walt Disney World. She also stood behind Gov. DeSantis at a press conference when he joked about building a state prison next to the Walt Disney World Resort.

Amesty won her last election by six percent. However, in the previous presidential election, the District went to President Joe Biden over Donald Trump in 2020.

The election is expected to be close, with the voters in the House district evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. However, Spencer should have the support of his former employer and the financial support that comes with it.

Who will get the opportunity to represent Disney’s District in the Florida House?

in Disney, Walt Disney World

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