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Washington Post Opinion: “Why Governors’ Races Will Be So Critical in 2022”

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In a Washington Post opinion article published this week, columnist Jennifer Rubin highlighted the gravity of 2022 gubernatorial races and the critical importance of electing Democratic governors.

Rubin says the pandemic and resulting challenges have revealed the power that governors have to influence the lives of their residents, and “​​the performance of several governors will come back to haunt them.”

While COVID cases and hospitalizations soar in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis is under attack for his life-threatening ban on mask and vaccine requirements, and his approval ratings are sinking. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s assault on mask and vaccine requirements has also led to skyrocketing caseloads and hospitalizations as kids return to school. Rubin also calls out Govs. Doug Ducey and Brian Kemp who have enabled assaults on American democracy.

“Democratic gubernatorial wins are critical for education, health care, the environment, voting rights, and other policy areas,” said DGA Communications Director David Turner. “The failures of Republican governors will have political consequences, and voters who are fed up with the MAGA circus act will have a chance to replace them with Democrats who are truly committed to protecting lives and preserving our democracy.”

Read more on the importance of electing Democratic governors below:

Washington Post: Opinion: Why governors’ races will be so critical in 2022

Governors, as we have seen during the pandemic, have extraordinary power over the lives of their residents — far more than a president has, in certain respects. Governors can respond capably to crises or unleash death and destruction. That’s why the performance of several governors will come back to haunt them (or their party, if they are term-limited) in 2022.

In Florida, where covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are soaring, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is under siege for his life-threatening ban on mask and vaccine requirements. The Post reports:

“His ban on vaccine passports was temporarily blocked by a federal judge late Sunday: Norwegian Cruise Line was cleared to require coronavirus vaccines for guests and crew members after U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Williams granted the company a preliminary injunction, blocking a Florida law championed by DeSantis that would have fined the cruise company for requiring vaccines.

“Coronavirus protocols in schools are also in the spotlight as the head of the country’s second-largest teachers union on Sunday shifted course to signal support for vaccine mandates for teachers to protect students, especially those under 12 who are not old enough to be inoculated.

Parents of disabled students, who are particularly at risk from covid-19, are now suing the state. DeSantis’s approval rating is sinking like a stone.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appears to be running neck and neck with DeSantis for the distinction of the nation’s most irresponsible governor. His edict preventing mask and vaccine requirements predictably has also resulted in soaring caseloads and hospitalizations just as kids are returning to school. The New York Times reports:

“The fear and frustration comes as schools are prepared to reopen in the nation’s second most populous state, raising worries about further spread of the virus.

“‘The governor has shown a callous disregard for life and safety in defiance of clear medical guidance and is risking the safety of our children and the recovery of our economy,’ Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio said.’”

These two governors will appear on the ballot in 2022, and 34 other states will hold gubernatorial elections. These contests will serve as a test of whether playing to the MAGA mob at the expense of the health and well-being of residents is good political strategy.

Those elections will be critical not only for education, health care, the environment and other policy areas in those states, but they also will have grave implications for our democracy. Democratic wins in governors’ races in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin could put the right people in place to veto voter suppression bills, challenge existing ones and defend county election officials from takeover by partisan Republican legislatures.

Governors in these and other swing states such as Ohio and Michigan will also have a key role in ensuring the presidential candidate elected by their voters in 2024 is certified as the winner. As Edward B. Foley wrote for The Post in 2020, “A key sentence [in the Electoral Count Act] provides that if the House and Senate disagree about what electoral votes should count, ‘the votes of the electors whose appointment shall have been certified by the executive of the State, under the seal thereof, shall be counted.’” He concludes that “the slate of electors certified by the state’s governor is the one that controls” under the law.

Republican governors, during this time of public health crisis, economic turmoil and racial unrest, have run the gamut from responsible (e.g., Ohio’s Mike DeWine, Maryland’s Larry Hogan) to reckless (DeSantis, Abbott). Some have stood up for democracy, while others have passively watched fake audits attempt to undermine their states’ election results, as Arizona’s Doug Ducey did, or gleefully signed on to voting restrictions, as Georgia’s Brian Kemp did. Their decisions are not without political consequences. Voters dismayed that these governors prioritized MAGA suck-uppery over public health and democracy can throw them out of office or, in the case of governors that will hit their term limit, elect Democrats. If they replace them with Democrats, their states may well have more responsible public health policies and — even more important — may act as bulwarks for the preservation of our democracy.