Paypal co-founder and Republican mega-donor Peter Thiel is concerned Florida is fast becoming California, a state that “can’t even keep the flow going,” according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Speaking at the National Conservatism conference last week, Thiel pointed to high home prices as an indicator that Florida really is in danger of “becoming like California.”
“The temptation on our part is always going to be to just say, we’re not California … We don’t like tech, we don’t like California, we don’t like the woke stuff,” Thiel said on the first night of The Conference.
“All of that is true,” he continued, “but it’s no way to return to broad-based growth that isn’t just some sort of real estate hit. We have all these different states where we’re trying different things, and I think DeSantis is probably the best at offering a real alternative to California. But if we want a high-growth alternative, the test is: are house prices going down? And the fact that the Florida real estate market has melted in the last two or three years is no proof that you’re able to build a better model than California. I’m afraid that’s proof that you’re becoming like California.”
Thiel’s comments come as Florida overwhelmingly leads the country in home price increases. A report last month showed that Tampa saw a 35% year-over-year increase in prices in June, the highest in the US, followed by Miami with a 33% increase.
Notably, the state is also grappling with a rapidly collapsing property insurance industry, with five insurers listed as insolvent since February and thousands of policies being merged weekly into the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. flow, which was founded as an insurer of last resort.
Recently, DeSantis has been at the center of controversy after tricking nearly 50 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, into planes in Texas and flying to Martha’s Vineyard with promises of jobs and housing. The move is now under investigation as a criminal act and has drawn heavy criticism, particularly from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who took the opportunity to challenge the potential front-runner for 2024 GOP president to a debate.
“Hey [Gov. Ron DeSantis], obviously struggling, distracted and busy playing politics with people’s lives,” Newsom said in a tweet. “Since you have only one overriding need – attention – let’s take that up and discuss it. I’ll bring my hair gel. You bring your hairspray. Give the time before election day.”
Meanwhile, Thiel is investing $10 million in Trump-backed US Senate candidates, as well as another $1.5 million in a conservative dating app that currently only allows straight users access to the invitation-only platform, meaning that he couldn’t use it because he’s gay.