Florida to Appeal Federal Judge’s Ruling Declaring ‘Sanctuary City’ Ban Unconstitutional

Florida will appeal a federal judge’s injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing its two-year-old “sanctuary cities” ban.

U.S. Southern District of Florida Judge Beth Bloom Tuesday released a 110-page ruling declaring portions 2019’s Senate Bill 168 are unconstitutional and that the measure was adopted by the state’s Republican-dominated Legislative with “discriminatory motives.”

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Florida’s Unemployment Rate Falls, Remains Below National Rate

Florida’s unemployment rate fell to 5.0 percent in August, down 0.1 percent from the July reported rate of 5.1 percent.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced Florida has experienced 16 consecutive months of job growth, gaining 19,400 private sector jobs over the month. In total, Florida has gained 990,400 jobs since April 2020.

“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida’s unemployment rate is decreasing,” said Secretary Dane Eagle of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “This positive sign shows that Floridians are returning to work and Florida’s economy continues to provide opportunities for meaningful employment. I look forward to working with Floridians to continue these economic successes.”

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DeSantis Dismisses Talk of 2024 Presidential Bid, but Continues to Campaign Across the Country

Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to dismiss the chatter about a run for high office in 2024.

“I just do my job and we work hard,” the governor said in a recent in-state press event. “I hear all this stuff,nand honestly it’s nonsense.”

He also said “speculation” to the contrary is “purely manufactured.”

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Florida School Board Member Advocates for Student Vaccine Incentives

During a special Leon County School Board (LCSB) meeting on Thursday, Board member Rosanne Wood initiated a discussion about vaccine incentives focused on Leon County School (LCS) employees and students. The initiative could provide a monetary incentive for employees and students to get vaccinated.

Board member Wood opened the discussion by stating, “since we are the educators of Leon County, we need to be doing a better job of educating our kids, parents, and our families of the importance of this vaccine…”

Wood mentioned that SAIL High School is holding a vaccine clinic and will be offering Starbucks gift cards and Amazon gift cards to students and employees who get vaccinated.

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States Banning Mask Mandates Could Face Civil Rights Probes, on Biden’s Directive

President Biden is ratcheting up opposition to Republican governors blocking COVID mask mandates in schools, putting in charge the Education Department, which is raising the possibility of using its civil rights arm to oppose such policies.

Biden on Wednesday ordered Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to “assess all available tools” that can be used against states that fail to protect students amid surging coronavirus cases.

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Commentary: A January 6 Detainee Speaks Out

Joe Biden’s Justice Department notched another victory last week in the agency’s sprawling investigation into the January 6 protest on Capitol Hill against Biden’s presidency.

On Wednesday, Michael Curzio pleaded guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol building. The government offered the plea deal to Curzio’s court-appointed attorney in June; Curzio faced four misdemeanor charges, including trespassing and disorderly conduct, for his role in the Capitol breach.

Curzio will pay the government “restitution” in the amount of $500 to help pay for the nearly $1.5 million in damages the building reportedly sustained. (The Architect of the Capitol initially said the protest caused $30 million in damages but prosecutors have set the figure far lower.)

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Partnership Boosts Supply Chain Resiliency for Florida’s $56B Manufacturing Industry

Aerial shot of downtown Miami, Florida

According to an April-June McKinsey Global Survey poll of 60 senior supply-chain executives from across the nation, 73% encountered a shortage of suppliers – not just supplies – and 75% faced production/distribution shortfalls during the 2020 height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida’s 21,000 manufacturers – not to mention farmers, restauranteurs, hoteliers, retailers – were also affected by pandemic-induced supply disruptions, as they were by Hurricanes Irma in 2017 and Michael in 2018.

To mitigate disruption for the state’s $56 billion manufacturing industry, which employs about 400,000 Floridians, the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), Space Florida and FloridaMakes have formed Connex Florida, an online database to link manufacturers connect with prospective suppliers and develop business opportunities.

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Florida Man Receives Eight Month Prison Term in First Felony Sentence from January 6 Capitol Breach

Close up of Capitol with Trump and America flag in the wind

AFlorida man, who breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6, was sentenced to eight months in prison on Monday. Paul Allard Hodgkins pleaded guilty last month to one count of obstructing an official proceeding – Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

Prosecutors, who asked for an 18-month sentence, argued that Hodgkins, “like each rioter, contributed to the collective threat to democracy.”

“Although you were only one member of a larger mob, you actively participated in a larger event that threatened the Capitol and democracy itself. The damage that was caused that way was way beyond a several-hour delay of the vote certification. It is a damage that will persist in this country for several decades,” said U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss of Washington, DC.

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Florida Medicaid Enrollment Tops 4.8 Million, Surpassing Forecasted Growth

Florida State Capitol

Florida’s Medicaid enrollment increased by 1% in June with 48,468 low-income residents qualifying for subsidized health care, according to the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).

As of June 30, there were 4,846,412 low-income, elderly and disabled Floridians enrolled in Medicaid, an increase of more than 730,000 since June 2020, AHCA documents in its June enrollment report.

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Commentary: Florida Woman Received a $100,000 Fine for Parking on Her Own Property

Car Tire In Driveway

There’s nothing worse than when you’re having a bad day and come back to your car to find a parking ticket on your windshield. Except, maybe, if that ticket was for $100,000, and you got it for parking on your own property.

That’s what happened to Sandy Martinez, a resident of Lantana, Florida. Teaming up with attorneys at the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice (IJ), she is suing the town over a parking violation fine assigned to her that totaled more than $100,000.

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Opening Capitol Police Field Offices Raises Questions About Jurisdiction

U.S. Capitol Police car

Six months after the incidents at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announced they will be opening two field offices. One will be in Florida and another in California to investigate threats against members of Congress.

The Florida field office will be located in Tampa, despite Tallahassee being Florida’s capital city. USCP selected the two states because they said it is where a large portion of threats originate.

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Florida Law Appealed by Gun Rights Group

Rick Scott

The National Rifle Association (NRA) filed an appeal in federal court after a judge upheld a Florida law banning Floridians under 21 from purchasing a firearm.

The law was passed in 2018 by the Florida Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Rick Scott raising the purchasing age as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.

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Tropical Storm Elsa Heading to Florida

Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to make landfall in Cuba and part of the Florida Keys before heading to mainland Florida. The storm will be bringing approximately 60 mile-per-hour winds and will drop five to ten inches of rain in Cuba.  

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency for 15 Florida counties, with nine million Floridians being under tropical storm watches and warnings.

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Florida COVID Cases Up, Deaths Continue to Decrease

The latest state reports show that Florida COVID cases and the positivity rate increased during the week ending July 1st. Also, hospitalizations remained the same, while deaths continue to decrease.

The state reported 15,978 cases during the week ending July 1st, compared to 11,807 cases for the week ending June 25th. The increase follows a consistent downward trend since the state reported approximately 37,000 cases for the April 23rd week. New cases reached a low during the June 11th week with 10,459.

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Florida Braces for Booming, Banging Return to July 4th ‘Normal’

fireworks

Independence Day 2020 was a lackluster affair for many, made all the sadder by attempts to celebrate July 4 amid pandemic-induced isolation without the parades, public firework shows and other communal and family gatherings that traditionally accompany the summer holiday.

The city of Miami and others staged “virtual fireworks displays” and at least 60 Florida communities made attempts to stage public events, including socially distanced parades, but with about 80% of traditional observations canceled, July 4, 2020, was nothing to celebrate.

Not so for July 4, 2021.

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Another Judge Temporarily Blocks Biden’s Debt Relief Program Exclusively for Farmers of Color

Silhouette of man on a tractor during golden hour

A federal judge in Florida temporarily halted President Joe Biden’s $4 billion debt relief program exclusively for farmers of color, saying in a Wednesday order that the program was racially discriminatory.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard sided with Scott Wynn, a Florida-based white farmer who sued to block the program in May. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) program was originally passed in March as part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, with the intention of providing relief to “socially disadvantaged farmers.”

“Section 1005’s rigid, categorical, race-based qualification for relief is the antithesis of flexibility,” Howard wrote. “The debt relief provision applies strictly on racial grounds irrespective of any other factor.”

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Just 14 States Had Positive Job Growth in May

Just 14 states saw positive employment growth between April and May while the majority of the growth was concentrated in a handful of states, according to the Department of Labor.

Fourteen states led by California, Florida and Texas experienced significant job growth, 35 states experienced stagnant job growth and Wyoming saw a decline in employment last month, according to a Department of Labor report released Wednesday. Overall, the unemployment rates in 21 states decreased between April and May while every state’s employment improved compared to May 2020.

While the U.S. continues to report increased job growth, the report showed that the vast majority of the growth has come from about a dozen states.

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Former President Trump to Host Rally in Florida

Former President Donald Trump is hosting a major rally in Sarasota, Florida on the eve of the Fourth of July.

In a statement released by his Save America PAC, Trump announced the rally will be co-sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida, and the event “marks President Trump’s further support of the MAGA agenda and accomplishments of his administration.”

The former President is becoming increasingly more active in his rally-style events — which he was notorious for on the campaign trail. Largely, Trump drew thousands to each address he gave during his campaign and his presidency.

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Florida Gas Prices Up 48 Percent over Last 12 Months

According to publicly available data, average gas prices in Florida have increased approximately 48.0% over the last 12 months. The current price of a gallon of regular gas, as of June 20, was $2.96. This is up from $2.00 per gallon reported one year ago.

The chart below shows the 12-months trend of average gas prices for the United States and Florida. Since March 11, 2021, the average price of gas in Florida has trended below the national average. As of June 20, the U.S. average is $3.07 per gallon.

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Florida Job Growth Grant Fund Accepting Applications

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) tweeted on Monday they are accepting proposals for new projects to be a part of the Job Growth Grant Fund. DEO is accepting applications coming off Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signing Florida’s $101.5 billion budget last week.
The grant program is getting an extra $50 million from this year’s budget and over $24 million left unspent from 2019. In all, the program will have over $74 million to spend on communities seeking “workforce training and public infrastructure projects to support growth and employment in Florida.”

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Commentary: Florida is Overcoming ‘Systemic Privilege’ by Putting Students Before the ‘System’

Students in shop class at school with safety goggles on

Throughout America, a very important – and highly racialized – conversation is taking place about overcoming injustice. Here in Florida, that conversation has often gone in a markedly different and very promising direction. And schoolchildren of color are among the greatest beneficiaries.

The conversation in Florida, at least as it pertains to education, has focused on what might be called “systemic privilege.”

If you are unfamiliar with this (de-racialized) mash-up term, try this: Go to a public forum and suggest that all families should be treated fairly – that all parents should have access to the per-pupil funds for their children even if they choose to educate them outside the public school system.  

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Greg Abbott Says He’ll Suspend Lawmakers’ Pay After Democrats Walk Out on Election Bill

Greg Abbott

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that he would veto funding for his state’s legislature after Democrats delayed the passage of an expansive elections bill.

Democrats in the state House quietly left the floor late Sunday with just hours to spare in the legislative session, preventing the bill from coming up for a vote. If signed into law, Senate Bill 7 would enhance voter ID provisions, empower partisan poll watchers and ban ballot drop boxes and drive-thru voting centers, which were used disproportionately in Texas’ biggest counties.

It would also make it easier to overturn an election in the state, allowing courts to throw out the results of an entire election if the amount of illegally cast votes exceeds the margin between two candidates, regardless of which candidate received more fraudulent votes. In 2020, there were just 43 documented cases of voter fraud, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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Florida Bans Biological Men from Competing in Women’s Sports

Women's volleyball game

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Tuesday banning biological males from women’s sports.

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act prohibits biological males from participating in athletic teams or sports designated for female students and requires that a student’s school or institution “request a certain health examination and consent form or other statement from the student’s health care provider to verify the student’s biological sex under certain circumstances.”

“The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act will empower Florida women & girls to be able to compete on a level playing field,” DeSantis tweeted Tuesday. “This will help ensure that opportunities for things like college scholarships will be protected for female athletes for years to come.”

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Florida Concert Promoter: Tickets Are $18 if You’re Vaccinated but $1,000 if You’re Not

Live concert

A concert promoter in Florida is selling $18 discounted tickets to an upcoming show for those who have been vaccinated and charging $999.99 per ticket for those who have not, ABC News reports.

Paul Williams of Leadfoot Promotions in Tampa Bay is organizing the concert which is set to take place on June 26 at the VFW Post 39 venue in St. Petersburg. It will feature performances from three punk rock banks: Teenage Bottlerocket, MakeWar and Rutterkin, according to the report.

Posters for the punk event feature an image of “Nightmare on Elm Street” killer Freddy Krueger with needles for fingers and the Leadfoot Promotions booking page advises attendees to bring their “COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card” showing they have had two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on or before 6/12/2021.

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DeSantis Signs New School Choice Law, Could Make Florida First in Nation

Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed an education bill that allows for greater school choice in his state.

The new law, which streamlines Florida school choice scholarship programs and expands eligibility, was touted by DeSantis at a May 11 news conference at Jacksonville Catholic School.

Children in families of four that earn less than $100,000 will be eligible for a fully funded K-12 education at the school of their choice.

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Pipeline Hack Revives Call for Florida to Create Its Own Stash of Gas

Gary Farmer

The ransomware attack that paralyzed the Colonial Pipeline for nearly a week, causing gas shortages throughout the Southeast, including Florida’s Panhandle, may revive one senator’s multi-year effort to convince the Sunshine State to establish its own petroleum stockpile.

Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Lighthouse Point, has filed bills since 2018 seeking to create a Florida Strategic Fuel Reserve Task Force to study creating a fuel stash similar in concept, if not in size, to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Farmer Thursday called on Republican statehouse leaders to add his 2021 proposal, Senate Bill 1454, to the agenda when the Legislature convenes Monday for a special session to vet a proposed 30-year gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

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Controversy Surrounds Whitmer’s Secret Florida Flight

Gov. Whitmer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is once again under fire for a Florida trip she took months ago.

The trip was partially paid for by a 501(c)4 group, which critics say presents legal questions.

Whitmer used funds from an inauguration-related nonprofit to pay for a $27,521 trip to Florida to visit her ailing father in March, MIRS News reported. “She continued to carry out her duties as governor while she assisted her father [in Florida] with household duties like cooking and cleaning,” JoAnne Huls, the governor’s chief of staff, wrote in a memo. “The governor’s flight was not a gift, not paid for at taxpayer expense, and was done in compliance with the law.”

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Florida State University Narrows List of Presidential Candidates

Florida State University

The Florida State University Presidential Search Committee met Friday to discuss applicants for the President’s position and narrowed the list. The committee has invited nine individuals to interview with the committee. In-person interviews with the selected candidates will take place May 14-15, 2021, at the Augustus B. Turnbull Florida State Conference Center.

The Committee announced the interviews and meetings will continue to be livestreamed. For those who wish to attend in person, plans have been made to offer very limited seating. The agenda will include public comment. Once the search firm has finalized the interview schedule, it will be made available.

Following first-round interviews with the FSU Presidential Search Advisory Committee on May 14-15, the committee anticipates hosting a series of open candidate forums for faculty, staff and students during the week of May 17.

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Documents Reveal Twitter Failed to Properly Register in Florida Before Doing Business There

Government documents from Florida show that social media giant Twitter failed to properly file to do business in the state, incurring a fine for transacting business there without the official permission of state officials.

The documents, available on the website of the Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations, show that in March the department received from Twitter an “application by foreign corporation for authorization to transact business in Florida.”

The application reveals that Twitter “first transacted business in Florida” in June 2015, apparently well before it registered to do business there. A letter sent back to Twitter by the department indicates that the social media company failed to properly register with the state, potentially for many years.

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Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Scrapping All of Florida’s Covid Restrictions

Gov. DeSantis discussing COVID-19 bill.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Wednesday scrapping all COVID-19 restrictions throughout the state and an accompanying bill that limits localities’ ability to enforce emergency precautions.

“I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do,” DeSantis said during a press conference Tuesday announcing the executive order. “I think folks are saying they need to be policing people at this point, if you’re saying that, then you’re really saying you don’t believe in the vaccines.”

DeSantis signed SB 2006, which says that any emergency orders can last no longer than six weeks. It gives him the authority to overrule cities that adopt restrictions deemed too harsh or unnecessary, and gives city and county commissions the power to overrule mayors.

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Census Bureau Announces Florida Will Gain a Congressional Seat as Michigan and Ohio Each Lose One

Texas and Florida are slated to gain congressional seats during the decennial redistricting process, while California and New York are set to each lose one, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday.

The U.S. Census Bureau released the decennial state population and congressional apportionment totals Monday, outlining how many districts each state will have for the next decade. The data also determines how many Electoral College votes each state will have through 2032, and allocates how federal money is distributed to each state for schools, roads and other public projects.

The release was originally scheduled for December, but faced delays due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Trump administration’s unsuccessful effort to exclude non-citizens from the count.

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Illegal Immigrants Repeatedly Denied COVID-19 Vaccine in Florida: Report

COVID Vaccine

Undocumented immigrants in Florida have been routinely denied access to the COVID-19 vaccine, the Miami Herald reported Thursday.

A valid Florida driver’s license or government-issued I.D., utility bill or rental agreement is required to receive the vaccine, the Herald reported. Other undocumented immigrants who worked as essential workers across the U.S. haven’t been able to receive the vaccine, though some local governments are advocating for other proofs of residency so they will have access.

“What we feel is that they don’t want immigrants vaccinated,” Doris Mejia, an undocumented immigrant living in Florida told the Herald. “They see us as less, yet we work the most.”

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Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings Dead at 84

Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings died Tuesday morning after complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 84.

Hastings was diagnosed with the cancer in 2018 but continued to serve and make public appearances in between receiving medical treatment. In recent days he was placed in hospice care, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

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13 States Sue Biden Administration, Demand Ability to Cut Taxes

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

Thirteen states sued President Joe Biden’s administration over an American Rescue Plan provision prohibiting states from cutting taxes after accepting coronavirus relief funds.

The 13-state coalition argued that the provision included in the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package preventing states from cutting taxes if they accept relief from the federal government is unconstitutional. The coalition, led by Republican West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday evening in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

“Never before has the federal government attempted such a complete takeover of state finances,” Morrisey said in a Wednesday statement. “We cannot stand for such overreach.”

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DeSantis Slams Critical Race Theory, Says Florida Schools Will Exclude ‘Unsubstantiated Theories’ from Curriculum

During a press conference in Palm Harbor, Florida on Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that his administration is banning “Critical Race Theory” from being taught in Florida schools.

The governor made the announcement while describing a new civics education initiative aimed at teaching students “foundational concepts” in America, rather than “unsubstantiated theories.”

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Over 100 Arrested at Miami Beach Spring Break Celebrations

A spring break celebration in Miami Beach, Florida led to over 100 partygoers being arrested over the weekend after a crowd became unruly, with two police officers being injured, as reported by CNN.

The incident took place on Friday night, where a crowd allegedly began surrounding and taunting a group of police officers. The Miami Beach Police Department’s official Twitter account described the crowd as “disorderly,” and said that pepper balls were used to disperse the crowd as dozens were arrested.

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After Defying COVID Groupthink, Big Tech Censors, DeSantis Hosts CPAC as Rising GOP Star for 2024

When Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis takes the stage to deliver a welcoming address at the Conservative Political Action Conference on his home field in Orlando Friday, it will be as a fast-rising force in the conservative movement and an increasingly plausible and popular contender for his party’s presidential nomination in 2024.

DeSantis will be followed in the spotlight on the first full day of CPAC 2021 by a succession of marquee GOP names vying to woo the party’s conservative base at the movement’s signature annual gathering of the tribes. Among them will be potential 2024 GOP presidential hopefuls and aspiring heirs to the leadership of their party’s populist conservative wing, including Sens. Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Josh Hawley, of Texas, Arkansas and Missouri, respectively.

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