Dallas GOP dinner with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis closed to media

Dallas GOP dinner with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis closed to media
Dallas GOP dinner with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis closed to media

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “fireside chat” at Saturday’s Dallas County Republican Party’s Reagan Day Dinner will take place behind closed doors.

“We are not able to invite the media,” said Jennifer Stoddard-Hajdu, chairwoman of the Dallas County Republican Party. “That was the decision of Governor DeSantis’ team.”

Stoddard-Hajdu referred questions to a DeSantis press aide, who did not return a text, email or phone call.

On Friday, DeSantis will speak at the Harris County Republican Party’s Lincoln Reagan Dinner, which is also closed to the media.

Rice University political scientist Mark Jones said DeSantis has an uneasy relationship with the media and doesn’t want to risk making a mistake before his expected entry into the Republican presidential race.

“DeSantis has a fraught relationship with the media and a desire to effectively stay away from the media,” Jones said. “There’s also a belief among many Republicans, especially for the primary, that traditional media simply isn’t much use to them, and that they have little to gain and too much to lose by being exposed to the media.”

The Florida governor is afraid of the press, said Kristy Noble, head of the Dallas County Democratic Party.

“We know fascist Republican Ron DeSantis is afraid of history books, free market capitalism and kids playing sports, but we didn’t know he was afraid of Dallas County’s local reporters,” she said in a statement. “We are proud to open all our democratic events to the media because we are proud of our values. Perhaps the Republicans know that he is no match for their party leader – election loser after election loser Donald Trump.”

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks while announcing a proposed Digital Bill of Rights, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)(Wilfredo Lee / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The Reagan Day Dinner is the annual fundraiser for the local GOP. The event was open to the media earlier, especially since it is a showcase for Republicans across the region. Over the years, the dinner has attracted many influential Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has announced a GOP campaign for president.

Along with the conversation with DeSantis and his wife, Casey, the dinner features a congressional panel featuring Republican Reps. Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Chip Roy of Austin and Ronny Jackson of Amarillo. It will be held at the Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas.

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Securing DeSantis’ appearance at the fundraiser was a score for the local party. He is considered a strong contender against former President Donald Trump in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, although he has not announced a campaign.

The Florida governor will be in Texas when the Conservative Political Action Conference convenes near Washington, DC. Speakers at that conference include Trump.

DeSantis has made national headlines by aggressively pushing culture war issues, including his fight to restrict schools from discussing gender and sexual identity with younger children.

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“Ron DeSantis is popular throughout the county and he is a great speaker. We are excited about it, said Stoddard-Hajdu the day the event was announced.

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