February 19, 2021

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Latest News, Weekender

The Weekender (2/19/21)

Welcome to the Democratic Governors Association’s Friday newsletter, The Weekender.

Let’s get started.

Virginia: The Virginia Republican Party has been in a commonwealth of complete chaos this year –  they are “disorganized and broke,” and their leading candidate, state Sen. Amanda Chase, is suing the party over their decision to choose a nominee via a convention.  Party leaders have spent weeks fighting over how to choose a nominee, with the regular in-person convention process looking almost impossible now that the gathering might violate Virginia’s pandemic restrictions. Chase has long opposed a convention because she fears that the members of the state central committee might rig a convention against her. Adding to the VA GOP’s trouble – another GOP candidate, Glenn Youngkin, is siding with Chase. Youngkin said he “sympathizes” with her frustration and urged the state committee to make up their minds.

New Jersey: Major Trump supporter Pastor Phillip Rizzo entered the governor’s race, which is just the latest data point that this primary will be a long, messy fight over who is the most conservative. In his announcement, Rizzo declared himself a “strong supporter of President Trump” and questioned frontrunner Jack Ciattarelli’s commitment to the Trump agenda, even though Ciattarelli has signaled clearly that he stands with the disgraced former president. Ciattarelli has run his campaign far to the right in a desperate effort to win over Trump’s base in New Jersey.

Ron DeSantis Prioritizes the White, Wealthy, and Well-Connected For COVID-19 Vaccines

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was blasted by officials from across the political spectrum this week for politicizing the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. He’s been accused of directing the state’s limited vaccine supply to his political allies and those in affluent communities, rather than to those who need them the most.

Recently, DeSantis set up a pop-up clinic at Lakewood Ranch, a mostly white, affluent retirement community in Manatee County. Lakewood Ranch’s parent company is a DeSantis campaign donor. DeSantis reportedly struck a deal with the company’s CEO, Rex Jensen, to host a vaccination clinic in Lakewood, provided DeSantis only offer the vaccines to people living in two of the wealthiest zip codes in the county.

Even the Republican County Commissioner saw a problem with that, saying, “For the life of me, I can’t understand why we would vaccinate the most affluent neighborhoods in the county ahead of everyone else, especially the underserved neighborhoods and large number of manufactured home parks in our community.”

Prioritizing vaccines for the white, powerful and wealthy is apparently at the core of DeSantis’ vaccine distribution plan.

The same thing happened in Charlotte County – a pop-up clinic in King’s Gate, a wealthy retirement community, appeared out of nowhere last week, catching county officials off guard. A GOP executive committee member says he suspected people in King’s Gate were allowed to “jump the line” because it was built by Benderson Development and “they swing a heavy hammer in Tallahassee.”

DeSantis said he doesn’t “understand the accusation” that the vaccine distribution is politically-motivated, and threatened to pull vaccines from counties that criticize him.

“If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, then we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it,” DeSantis said. He added, “I wouldn’t be complaining.”

Poll Shows Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear Most Popular Statewide Official In Kentucky

The majority of Kentuckians continue to support Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear after his first year in office, according to a new poll released by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy. Gov. Beshear’s approval rating is at 55%, which is higher than both of the state’s Republican Senators, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell.

Just three months after Gov. Beshear took office, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced in the state. Since then, Gov. Beshear has taken decisive, life-saving steps to mitigate the spread of the virus, protect the state’s economy, and keep the public informed at every step of the way. The governor has put Kentuckians first by improving public education, expanding access to affordable health care, and restoring voting rights to more than 170,000 nonviolent offenders.

Gov. Beshear also launched the Team Kentucky Fund to help struggling Kentuckians pay for bills and necessities during the pandemic. So far, the fund has raised more than $3.7 million and has assisted 3,662 Kentucky families.

It’s no wonder Gov. Beshear is more popular than Kentucky Republicans. Republicans in the state legislature are attempting to strip the governor of his emergency powers, which have allowed the governor to implement popular life-saving measures such as the state’s mask mandate

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, discussing the power outages across the southern U.S. and President Biden’s call with governors regarding the winter storms and COVID-19 vaccinations.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle, explaining how he’s combatting vaccine hesitancy in his state and how he’s been feeling after his COVID-19 vaccination.

“There is no denying that we have a lot on our plate right now. But climate change is a reality we must face, not with fear and apprehension but with an understanding that the clean energy economy is a once in a generation opportunity for New Jersey.”

“Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.”

Who said it? Send your answer to press@dga.net and we’ll reveal the answer in the next Weekender!

If you guessed Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey last week, you were right! In an hour-long video posted to YouTube, Shirkey was caught promoting all sorts of crazy conspiracy theories and making sexist comments towards Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Shirkey speculated the capitol riot that left 6 people dead was a “hoax” and insisted “that wasn’t Trump people,” a theory that’s been proven false.