March 5, 2021

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Latest News, Weekender

The Weekender (3/5/21)

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

Congratulations to former Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo on her confirmation as U.S. Commerce Secretary. Democratic governors look forward to working with her in her new role.

And, a warm welcome to our newest Democratic governor, Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee! We are excited to see all he accomplishes for the Ocean State.

Let’s get started.

Virginia: Virginia Republicans were at each other’s throats this week, showing solidifying a nomination method has done little to tamp down the flames of the GOP civil war. Nearly all of the candidates attended a candidate forum hosted by the chairman of the Battlefield Chapter of Virginia Patriots, who is known for posting inappropriate videos back in 2017. The biggest clash of the event was between Glenn Youngkin and Pete Snyder over the mysterious negative attacks against Youngkin by three Republican-related groups. Youngkin accused Snyder of plotting the attacks: “We all know who it is Pete. We all know. Pete you deserve to give all these people an apology.” Snyder countered with an ominous warning: “If I ever hit you, you will know.”

New Jersey: The Star-Ledger editorial board went after GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli for his embrace of national Republicans’ attack on voting rights. Republicans in the NJ state legislature have filed eight bills related to “voting rights” since the 2020 election. Like Republicans across the country, Ciattarelli has endorsed these restrictive voting laws in an effort to demonstrate his loyalty to Trump. Ciattarelli has been desperately trying to woo Trump’s base in New Jersey –  embracing his wild claims of election fraud and headlining a “Stop the Steal” rally similar to the one leading up to the Capitol insurrection. So it’s no surprise Ciattarelli would support discriminatory, unconstitutional laws that only serve to suppress voter turnout and disenfranchise Black voters.

Vaccines for Sale: Gov. Ron DeSantis Offering COVID-19 Shots for Campaign Donations

Are you an old, white, rich Republican who needs a COVID-19 vaccine? For the low, low, price of $250,000, Ron DeSantis will set up an exclusive “pop-up clinic” in your neighborhood.

But seriously – the Miami Herald revealed a wealthy gated community in the Florida Keys received COVID-19 vaccinations before much of the state, including some health care workers.

It appears Gov. DeSantis let the Ocean Reef Club’s members jump the line to boost his campaign reserves. The Herald reported, “The only people from Key Largo who gave to DeSantis’ political committee live in Ocean Reef. All 17 of them had given the governor contributions of $5,000 each through December 2020, according to the Florida Division of Elections.”

And on February 25th, resident Bruce Rauner, former GOP Illinois governor, increased his contribution to DeSantis, writing a $250,000 check. In total, DeSantis has raised $2.7 million in February alone, more than any other month since his run for governor in 2018.

Ocean Reef Club was only the beginning – DeSantis has been setting up pop-up clinics at other wealthy retirement communities too, favoring campaign donors and political power players over those who need vaccines the most. For instance, a clinic was established 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.

When local officials pointed out the inequities in Florida’s vaccine distribution, DeSantis threatened to pull vaccines from counties that criticize him.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont Gets High Praise For His COVID-19 Response; Overall Approval Rating Climbs, Reaches New High of 55.9%

A new Sacred Heart University poll shows Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont continues to receive high job performance ratings for his handling of the pandemic – 73.6% of respondents approve of Gov. Lamont’s communication with the public, and 70.7% approve of his overall response to the COVID-19 crisis. The governor continues to be popular among Connecticut residents, seeing an increase in his already high approval rating. His stock has climbed in the Constitution State, to 55.9% in February 2021, from 53.5% approval in October 2020. 

Throughout the pandemic, Gov. Lamont has proactively responded to COVID-19 and taken steps to ensure the health and safety of Connecticut. He has instituted a new online portal making the state government more accessible to small business owners and proposed a legislative package to help women with education and child care during the pandemic. 

Gov. Lamont’s newly released five-point proposal for the state budget prioritizes funds for local governments and strives to make Connecticut more affordable for the middle class. The majority of voters approve of Gov. Lamont’s plans for Connecticut’s families and businesses.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on CBS’s Face the Nation, discussing Kentucky’s efforts to vaccinate teachers and get children back to school.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, announcing educators and day care workers will be eligible in the next phase of New Jersey’s vaccine rollout.

“I will work hard, day in and day out, on behalf of Rhode Islanders in all 39 cities and towns to ensure we come out of this pandemic stronger than we went in.”

“I would do something similar […] to what Governor Abbott has done in Texas.”

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

If you guessed VA GOP candidate Pete Snyder last week, you were right! Snyder said he wants to “compile ‘NFL-style scouting reports’ on local election officials” to prevent election fraud. Snyder is peddling the same baseless lies about voter fraud in the 2020 election that led to the January 6th insurrection and undermined confidence in our election systems – all in a pathetic effort to pander to Donald Trump’s base in Virginia.