Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to visit Orange County for GOP fundraiser

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a news conference to sign the Reedy Creek bill, on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Orange County Republican leaders expressed excitement over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' visit to California Sunday to headline a local fundraiser across the street from Disneyland, six days after he signed a bill stripping the entertainment giant of its self-governance over the area encompassing its Florida properties.

"The Republican Party of Orange County is incredibly honored that Gov. DeSantis chose to headline our annual fundraising event," Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker said. "It was sold out in no time with 900 people and over $740,000 raised so far. It shows the tremendous interest in the governor's successful leadership model for his state and the nation."

Former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach said he was eager to hear the potential presidential candidate.

"I'm interested in getting to know him a little better," Moorlach told City News Service. "Of all the names that have been out there his candidacy seems to intrigue me the most so I might as well do my due diligence."

Moorlach said he expects DeSantis will have a better chance to win over swing voters than former President Donald Trump.

"A good percentage of the population growth (in Florida) has come from New York and New Jersey, not necessarily Republican strongholds, so if he's doing well with that constituency base I'd like to listen to him and see what he's got to say."

Trump appears to have become too divisive, Moorlach said.

"I think Donald Trump's policies were really good, but his megalomania style is a turnoff, and in management you'd like to see a little humility," Moorlach said. "I'm not here to say negative things about Trump, but I think he's so hard wired it's difficult for people to jump over those frustrations that they have with him...

"There's a lot of people out there who think Donald should take a break -- maybe it's time for something different. Am I in the Ron DeSantis camp? Maybe. But I don't know yet."

Orange Councilman Denis Bilodeau said he was also eager to hear DeSantis speak.

"I'm excited to hear Gov. DeSantis' message and I'm confident that he will be our party nominee," Bilodeau told City News Service.

Bilodeau said he believes the Florida governor has "the infrastructure in place to fundraise and he already has a track record of leadership on issues that matter to Republican voters."