The Weekender (1/21/22)


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

Let’s get started.

Illinois: Richard Irvin made an “anticlimactic” entrance to the GOP primary for governor this week and was immediately slammed by a new DGA video and attacks from his Republican opponents for his support of Gov. JB Pritzker. As Aurora mayor, Irvin lauded Gov. Pritzker as “a great friend, a great leader, who has guided our state with professionalism and compassion throughout this entire pandemic.” Now, with the expected backing of billionaire Ken Griffin, Irvin is running on a return to Bruce Rauner’s disastrous governorship. He faces an uphill battle against a crowded field of Republicans who are sure to drag him to the far-right. “He’s certain to face bruising attacks,” wrote the Associated Press.
Texas: Primary challenger Don Huffines has launched yet another attack on Gov. Greg Abbott this week, releasing a tv ad that slams Abbott’s policies and touts Huffines’ support from Donald Trump’s far-right base. Huffines’ ad affirms Abbott is public enemy #1 in what’s sure to be a nasty GOP primary dominated by Republican infighting. The ad accuses Abbott of “siding with Fauci” and says, “Trump Republicans are flooding to the Huffines campaign.” Huffines has been slamming Abbott since day one of his candidacy when he called Abbott a “political windsock” whose governorship has been dominated by “excuses and lies.” Abbott’s disastrous COVID response has triggered an onslaught of challengers from within his own party, including Huffines and Texas GOP chairman Allen West, who once co-hosted an anti-Abbott protest outside of the Governor’s Mansion. Huffines even welcomed West into the race by saying, “Texans can do better than Greg Abbott.”

Following Abysmal Fundraising Numbers, Heidi Ganahl Scrambles to Maintain Appearance as Frontrunner in CO GOP Race for Governor
After miserable fourth-quarter fundraising, Heidi Ganahl is desperately trying to resuscitate her lackluster campaign for Colorado governor. Her latest scheme to inject life into her struggling campaign is a campaign relaunch tomorrow — just months after launching her campaign in September.Of the $658,000 Ganahl raised in 2021, 41%  came from her own bank account. Her subpar fundraising efforts are jeopardizing her status as the frontrunner in the Colorado GOP primary for governor. Meanwhile, far-right conspiracy theorist Danielle Neuschwaile is appearing to gain momentum – Neuschwanger had more grassroots donors than Ganahl in Q4 and recently won the Women of Weld straw poll in Republican Weld county.Ganahl’s slipping status in the GOP field is unsurprising after spending her campaign hiding from any forum or debate with Republicans, dodging questions on critical issues, and spouting off conspiracy theories.

“Juggernaut” — Gov. Kathy Hochul Releases Historic State Budget, Reports Record Fundraising, and Dominates in New Poll
A new report from Politico highlights Gov. Kathy Hochul’s success in releasing a packed state budget, reporting record-breaking campaign fundraising, and dominating in a new poll — all in a day’s work. “New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, with less than six months on the job, turned Tuesday into a tour de force of her political and government prowess,” wrote Politico.A new Siena poll found Gov. Hochul “easily outpaces” her potential opponents in the governor’s race. Shortly after, her campaign announced they’d raised a “whopping” $21.9 million, shattering records. “She’s starting to look like a juggernaut,” said political science professor Douglas Muzzio.Before midday, Gov. Hochul released a $216.3 billion state budget that would make huge investments in schools and provide tax breaks to homeowners. “This is a moment of great possibility, a once in a generation chance to reconsider what is possible for our state,” Gov. Hochul said. “And this really is the beginning of New York’s next great comeback.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on CNBC with Rebecca Quick and Joe Kernen talking about his COVID response and budget plans.Former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on MSNBC with Jonathan Capehart reflecting on his legacy, which is featured on this new site.Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro on CNN with Don Lemon discussing his plan to protect voting rights.

“In December 1776, it was in New Jersey where the American Revolution turned, and where the American spirit was renewed. Now, in January 2022, let us make New Jersey the place where the direction of our nation is righted, where the spirit of our nation is restored, and where our common destiny as Americans — regardless of our political party or persuasion — is reaffirmed.”

  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy during his inauguration and after becoming the first Democratic governor to win reelection in New Jersey in over 40 years.

“If Kevin Nicholson is listening — you need to not run for governor … ​​I think if he runs, it hurts our chances to defeat Gov. Evers.”Who said it? Send your answer to, and we’ll reveal the answer in the next Weekender!If you guessed Donald Trump last time, you were right! After Gov. Ron DeSantis refused to reveal whether or not he had received a COVID booster, Trump blasted him as “gutless.” DeSantis shot back in a right-wing podcast appearance, saying one of his biggest regrets was not opposing Trump’s early COVID response.