The Weekender (3/12/21)


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

Let’s get started.

Virginia: In the latest humiliating development for the chaotic race to be Virginia’s Republican nominee for the governor, the Republican Party of Virginia is still struggling to find a location and finalize its deeply controversial nominating process. After losing their venue for an in-person convention, the RPV is expected to hold another one of their famously rowdy meetings tonight to decide yet again on how to choose their nominee. Virginia Republicans are growing increasingly frustrated with the party – former Trump campaign chair radio host John Fredericks called the GOP primary a “laughing stock dumpster fire” this week, adding it was the “stupidest thing” he’d ever seen in his life. Ouch.

Making things even more confusing, former Roanoke Sheriff Octavia Johnson, apparently unimpressed by the other extreme and divisive candidates fighting with each other, decided to hop into the GOP primary too.

Kansas: GOP Attorney General Derek Schmidt entered the race for Kansas governor this week – and didn’t receive a warm welcome from his fellow Republicans. Former Gov. Jeff Colyer, who is widely expected to run for governor as well, responded to Schmidt’s announcement by proclaiming himself the only “true conservative” in the race. It’s clear the GOP primary will be a brutal fight to prove who is the most extreme. Regardless of who the nominee is, both Colyer and Schmidt will try to drag Kansas back to the failed days of the Brownback era.

Flailing Michigan GOP Loses Another Top Potential 2022 Candidate

In yet another big recruitment fail for the Michigan GOP, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel announced she will not be running for Michigan governor in 2022. Our condolences to the RGA. This isn’t much of a loss for Michiganders though – McDaniel is just another far-right extremist who openly supported Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.

McDaniel’s announcement comes on the heels of MI GOP “dream candidate” Candice Miller also passing on a gubernatorial run – “a big disappointment for party leadership.” 

Republicans are running scared in Michigan – the MI GOP continues to fail to recruit anyone viable to run against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and other top Republicans like Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and former GOP Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield are in hot water for scandals and controversies. Cook Political has rated Michigan as “lean Democrat” and has warned Gov. Whitmer “won’t be as easy to knock off as some Republicans had initially hoped,” as demonstrated by her consistently high approval ratings.

With McDaniel and Miller out, the GOP race is still wide open, with the void being filled by far-right extremists and potentially disastrous candidates like Lena Epstein being floated. So far, the announced candidates are Allendale Township official Ryan Kelley, who is facing calls for removal from his position after he was spotted at the U.S. Capitol insurrection, and Austin Chenge, who was with Kelley in supporting the violent mob at the Capitol.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Leading the Nation in Shrinking Racial Vaccine Gap

Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is leading the nation in equitable vaccine distribution. According to a Bloomberg report, North Carolina has been one of the best-performing states due to its “laser focus” on collecting demographic data – the state has racial data for 99.6% of the people it vaccinates.

Communities of color have been hit harder by the pandemic. Black Americans are “three times as likely to contract the coronavirus,” but remain one of the least vaccinated groups, with only 5.7% having received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Gov. Cooper has been committed to shrinking the racial vaccine gap, prioritizing vaccines for counties with higher concentrations of historically underserved populations. He told Axios last month that North Carolina is being intentional about distributing vaccines to communities of color: “It involves going into communities and working. And we’re working with our providers to get that done. And it’s one of the priorities that we’re emphasizing. You need to be doing this and being intentional about it.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle, reflecting on this past year, and talking about his brightest moment of 2020: receiving Colorado’s first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Bloomberg’s Balance of Power, discussing the positive impact of the American Rescue Plan on Connecticut’s economy.

“President Joe Biden took bold and necessary action to sign the American Rescue Plan and bring much needed relief to the country, and to Nevada. This package will help bring back the American economy and provide much needed relief and assistance for hundreds of thousands of Nevada families. […] With this legislation, we can beat the virus and continue our progress to safely reopen school buildings and get our economy back on track.” 

“I think that’s ridiculous. Nobody likes a mask. But, for crying out loud, we could be a little more prudent for 30 more days or 45 more days or whatever it took for us to get on rock-solid ground.”

Who said it? Send your answer to and we’ll reveal the answer in the next Weekender!

If you guessed Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey last week, you were right! Shirkey defended Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s reckless COVID-19 policies in a radio interview and said if he were governor, he would want Michigan to be more like Texas, where they ignore public health experts.