DeSantis appoints Disney World district administrator for Democratic Orange County elections.

Orlando, Fla.— Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed the guy who has headed Walt Disney World since his allies took over as Orange County elections supervisor, one of Florida's most reliable Democratic vote sources.

On Monday, the Republican governor chose Glen Gilzean to oversee voting in Florida's fifth-biggest county, where over 1.4 million people live near the greatest theme park resorts. After DeSantis' friends took control Disney World, Gilzean was appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight Committee administrator in May.

Gilzean was Central Florida Urban League president and CEO and a DeSantis Florida Commission on Ethics appointee. A year before his tenure expired, county elections supervisor Bill Cowles retired in January. Cowles, a Democrat, was elected to monitor Orlando and neighboring elections in 1996.

The district's public information office replied via an email that the “transition should be completed in one week,” without further details. Gilzean earned $400,000 as district administrator. His elections supervisor salary will be half that.

U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost and other Orlando federal and state Democrats said Gilzean's appointment was the latest example of DeSantis appointing unqualified loyalists to elected positions “so he can control every part of our state and local governments and warp our democracy to his will.”

Democratic lawmakers called Glen Gilzean a Ron DeSantis loyalist whose primary goal seems to be pleasing him, not preserving election integrity. “This shows the Governor's desire to silence Central Florida voters, one of our state's most northern progressive hubs. We must prevent this.”

Gilzean's appointment comes after the district lost experienced staff and faced lawsuits since the takeover. District functions include firefighting, planning, and mosquito control.

DeSantis and Disney clashed in 2022 after Disney publicly rejected a state bill named “Don’t Say Gay” under internal and external pressure. Before suspending his presidential campaign this year, DeSantis used Disney as a punching bag in talks to promote the 2022 law, which limits early grade sexual orientation and gender identity lessons.

As punishment, the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature gave DeSantis leadership of the district and established a new board of supervisors, including Gilzean, as administrator. Disney sued DeSantis and his appointees for violating its free speech rights by opposing the law. January saw a federal judge dismiss the complaint. Disney appeals. A separate Orlando state court dispute over district governance continues.

Gilzean will oversee the GOP presidential primary this month, August primaries, and November general election in his new role. His election experience is zero. Five Democrats, a Republican, and an independent have filed to run for Orange County elections supervisor this year. Gilzean is absent.