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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.

Go deeper

What Biden's Fed nominations mean for policy

Sarah Bloom Raskin at a 2013 hearing. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Getty Images

Now that President Biden's long-awaited nominations for vacant seats on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors have dropped, the big question is how Sarah Bloom Raskin, Lisa Cook, and Philip Jefferson, if confirmed, might shift policy.

  • The answer: Don't expect any big changes to the central bank's policy direction overnight — but do expect it to prioritize a healthy labor market more in the years ahead.

Why it matters: The Fed's actions shape the economy in ways that outlast the presidents who appoint them — and the Biden-appointed Fed looks to be a more explicitly pro-worker central bank than we've seen in modern times.

The big picture: With inflation running hot, the Fed is in the midst of a pivot to more hawkish monetary policy — possibly including raising interest rates in March.

  • Raskin, Cook, and Jefferson are unlikely to stand in the way of that pivot, and not just because the slow-moving Senate confirmation process means it will likely be well underway before they are confirmed for their new jobs.
  • The Fed is a consensus-driven institution, and the consensus has swung decisively in a hawkish direction in the last three months. Even normally-dovish officials like San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly and Chicago Fed president Charles Evans on board with the policy shift.

But over time, the new additions to the Board of Governors — who have a permanent vote on monetary policy, unlike regional Fed presidents who rotate — have emphasized the importance of running a hot labor market in order to achieve gains for workers and greater racial equality.

  • That implies the three new governors would resist continuing to push interest rates higher once inflation moderates.

What they're saying: "Inflation is so high and political pressures on the Fed are so strong (including from Democrats), that we doubt they will push hard against the will of the committee," wrote Roberto Perli and Benson Durham of Cornerstone Macro, in a client note.

  • But, they add, "Because all of them have expressed views in favor of broader expansion of the labor market, … we can expect them to resist substantial tightening in the future."

Regulatory policy is a different matter. If confirmed as vice chair for supervision — and Republican Senators will try to stop that from happening — Raskin would have more explicit power over a wide range of regulatory policy, and look to rein in the deregulatory impulses of her predecessor, Trump appointee Randal Quarles.

The bottom line: As the Biden Fed takes shape, it will include more voices focused on workers than in modern memory. But the course of policy depends on whether inflation trends allow them to act on those instincts.

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Swastikas found outside Union Station in D.C.

People walk through Union Station on Jan. 16 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Drawings of swastikas appeared etched around the entrance to Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Friday morning.

Driving the news: "An investigation is underway with Amtrak Police and the Metropolitan Police Department after swastikas were reported on the exterior of Washington Union Station on Friday," Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods said in a statement to Axios.