Dec 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Dems desperate to ditch Trump

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper with former President Donald Trump at a briefing in 2018 after Hurricane Florence. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The incoming chairman of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) says the party’s candidates in gubernatorial contests in 2022 should talk more about health care, infrastructure, and education — and less about Donald Trump.

Driving the news: The nation’s Democratic governors are gathered in New Orleans for their annual winter meeting.

  • Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina begins his term as chair Saturday, weeks after Dems’ lost in Virginia and barely won re-election in New Jersey.
  • The annual meeting brings incumbent Democratic governors and stakeholders from around the country together to discuss policies that will continue to advance the party's priorities into next cycle.

What they're saying: "I just don't think [Trump] needs to be the central focus," Cooper told reporters at the gathering.

  • "What you can do is continue to focus on your issues and [decide] if it's worth reminding people how this candidate got elected, and what's coming," he told reporters. "Because our democracy is really at stake now."
  • He also argued that voters see governors through a less partisan lens than members of Congress. “They look to competence, and whether you've been able to get the job done."
  • Cooper is navigating a Republican-controlled state legislature.

Why it matters: Governorships have taken on a new level of scrutiny Trump moves to get more loyalists elected at the state and federal level who continue baseless claims that the election was stolen.

  • “Democratic governors believe that we should count every legal vote, and that the results should be the results," Cooper said.
  • "I shouldn't have to say that as an attribute, but you do because there are people who are beginning to take positions who don't believe that and almost would prefer an autocracy as long as their person is in charge."

The big picture: There are 36 governors races next year, with Republicans defending 20 seats and Democrats defending 16.

  • Trump has endorsed 10 gubernatorial candidates for 2022 so far, including at least three challengers to sitting Republican governors in Massachusetts, Idaho, and Georgia.
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