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Punishing Disney, DeSantis Signals a Lasting G.O.P. Brawl With Business

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida on Friday revoked Disney’s special tax privileges in the state, culminating an extraordinary clash between one of the Republican Party’s leading figures and a powerful company with deep historical ties in his state.

The move, which reverses 55 years of precedent, came after a weekslong battle with Disney that largely centered on the company’s criticism of an education law Mr. DeSantis signed that is at the center of America’s latest culture fight. The education law, called the “Parental Rights in Education” measure — or, to its critics, “Don’t Say Gay” — limits classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in some grades.

“I’m just not comfortable having that type of agenda get special treatment in my state,” Mr. DeSantis said on Friday.

Widely seen as retaliation, Mr. DeSantis’s move vividly illustrated just how drastically the G.O.P. has transformed from the days when its leaders mostly moved in lock step with the nation’s largest businesses.

But over roughly the last decade, and especially following former President Donald J. Trump’s ascent, Republicans have increasingly seen political benefit in criticizing corporate America, even as big corporations have felt rising pressure to take a stand on heated political issues.

“Republicans who for a long time have had a close and warm relationship with U.S. corporations have started to be more selective about those relationships, and aren’t afraid to confront even some popular brands that before would have been unthinkable,” said former Representative Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican. “Whereas before it would have been unimaginable that a politician, especially a Florida politician, would confront Mickey Mouse, now there’s actually significant political incentive to do so.”

This article will be updated.

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