The Weekender (9/3/21)


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

Let’s get started.

Virginia: This week at the Virginia FREE leadership luncheon, Glenn Youngkin dodged questions about abortion and expressed frustration that he was being asked about the issue despite urgent nationwide calls to protect women’s right to choose. While Terry McAuliffe has repeatedly confirmed his support for abortion rights, Youngkin avoids questions while funneling money to help elect Republicans who share his anti-abortion views. Youngkin’s attempt to hide his extremist position is no surprise since he was caught on camera promising to go “on offense” to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortions if elected governor, but admitted he’s hiding his unpopular views from voters to get elected. Codifying Roe v. Wade into law has become a “huge motivator” in governor’s races, but Youngkin still won’t talk about abortion, which raises the question: if he’s afraid to say what he thinks, why is he even running in the first place?

New Jersey: Last weekend, a scathing report from the Star-Ledger highlighted the immediate blowback from public health experts after Republican nominee Jack Ciattarelli falsely claimed that “children are not vulnerable to this virus.” Health experts say Ciattarelli’s lies are not only false but also harmful. Ciattarelli has a long history of putting New Jersey children at risk. In July, the Republican came under fire for vowing to end LGBTQ+ curriculum in schools and abolishing requirements for schoolchildren to get vaccinations for dangerous diseases like the mumps. Ciattarelli’s opposition to vaccines is deeply out of touch with New Jersey values. A recent Monmouth poll showed New Jerseyans overwhelmingly support masks in schools. Meanwhile, Gov. Murphy has shown unwavering leadership by following the science and mandating masks in schools to keep kids, teachers, and their loved ones safe.

Paul LePage’s COVID Lies Draw Criticism

This week, Press Herald columnist Greg Kesich took former Maine Gov. Paul LePage to task over attempts to rewrite history. According to Kesich, the former Republican governor wants to make the 2022 election a referendum on who would have done a better job handling COVID, but the pandemic is a weak point for LePage, not Democratic Gov. Janet Mills. As Kesich bluntly put it, “a lot of people would have gotten sick” if Paul LePage were governor during the pandemic. Under Gov. Mills, Maine has some of the lowest rates of infection in the nation, among the highest rates of vaccination, and a rebounding tourism economy. But LePage is living in an “alternate reality,” believing Maine would have had the same low rates without common-sense public health restrictions.

It’s easy to imagine how LePage would mishandle the pandemic. Regarding the opioid crisis, he said “they’re just going to die,” and he refused to fix problems when conditions at the Riverview Psychiatric Center led to federal sanctions. LePage likely would’ve followed guidance from other GOP governors like Greg Abbott, Kristi Noem, and Ron DeSantis, whose lack of leadership has led to skyrocketing COVID cases. LePage is grasping at straws to define this race because Gov. Mills’ administration is solid across the board.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s “Science-Based” Leadership on COVID Saves Lives, While Ron DeSantis’ “Ideological Extremism” Causes “Needless Deaths”
A new analysis from Fortune compares how Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s strong leadership in response to the pandemic is saving lives, while “ideological extremism” from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “has caused needless deaths in our country.” In his response to COVID-19, Fortune notes that Gov. Lamont is doing “his job to save the lives of his constituents,” implementing a “science-based approach from the outset of the pandemic,” with “effective, bipartisan, cross-sector problem-solving.” The article also noted that “Lamont also catalyzed a new nationwide weekly meeting of the nation’s governors, favoring quiet, effective, bipartisan, cross-sector problem-solving instead of seeking the public limelight.”

In contrast, Ron DeSantis has done the exact opposite, playing the “role of an anti-intellectual for political gain,” “ignoring science and evidence,” and consulting “with anti-mask advocates who promote the horse parasite drug,” rather than with public health experts. The difference in these two approaches to governing has striking consequences. In DeSantis’ Florida, ICU beds are filling up and cases are surging, while Connecticut has one of the nation’s highest vaccination rates. Lamont has also taken key measures to jumpstart Connecticut’s economy, and his bold leadership has earned him consistently high approval ratings across party lines.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on MSNBC with Jacob Soboroff explaining how the recall is being fueled by Republican groups.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on MSNBC with Stephanie Ruhle giving an update on the state’s storm response and thanking first responders.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on CNN with Kaitlan Collins discussing the state’s flood response preparedness.

“Virginia, you have my word: I will never stop fighting for reproductive rights and your right to choose.”

  • Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

Regarding skyrocketing COVID cases: “I’m keeping my fingers crossed. We’re starting to see a few bright spots in places around the state where they may be peaking. So hopefully things will turn relatively soon.”

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

If you guessed California Republican recall candidate Larry Elder last week, you got it right! Elder said that, if elected, he would immediately repeal common-sense public health measures like mask and vaccine mandates.