In the book Frankly, We Win This Election by Michael C. Bender, the author writes that former President Donald Trump, despite having a team of doctors and medical scientists on his coronavirus task force to rely on, asked members of his staff accompanying him to the Ford plant in the early days of COVID-19 if he should wear a mask during his visit there. Although a few said that he should since, as leader of the country, try to set an example, aides like Kayleigh McEnany, Hope Hicks, and Mark Meadows advised him not to, saying it would make him look weak.
In that moment, the GOP opposition to mask wearing to prevent a deadly pandemic was born.
The Democrats' best chance in 2022 to break the GOP's hold on Sunbelt governorships is to follow the path of resistance to mask mandate bans through the largest counties in AZ, GA, FL & even TX. My take. https://t.co/vdGbOAGXSj
— Ronald Brownstein (@RonBrownstein) August 24, 2021
Now, that opposition may spell the end of some GOP gubernatorial careers. Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida, Greg Abbott of Texas, Brian Kemp of Georgia, and Doug Ducey of Arizona have all gone so far as to threaten punishments against school districts who impose mask mandates in order to slow the spread of a virus that has killed 640,000 Americans so far. That may not play well for them in 2022.
According to CNN:
‘In Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arizona, multiplying confrontations over masks, vaccine mandates and other responses to the escalating outbreak have pit local Democrats — gaining strength in virtually all of those states’ largest cities — against Republican governors and legislatures that still control statewide power largely through their dominance of exurban, small-town and rural places, with suburban communities as the hotly contested fulcrum in between.’
— Jennifer Cohn ✍🏻 📢 (@jennycohn1) August 21, 2021
Of course, reversing that stance won’t go well for them, either, and they can blame the former president that they’ve all backed so blindly and religiously. If they lose the percentage of their voting base who wants their governor to do his job and address the pandemic responsibly, none can win. But if they switch and take the other side, they lose their rabid Trump-supporting voters, and then none can win. Trump has truly left them in a Catch-22 situation.
‘top-tier Democratic candidates have already entered the governors’ races in Florida and Arizona and Stacey Abrams is virtually certain to join them eventually in Georgia — all states where Republican governors have moved aggressively to overturn local mask requirements in school districts and Democratic-run cities.’
The net approval rating for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has dropped 21 points since early June. https://t.co/ngMoolgvw4
— Axios (@axios) July 22, 2020
Although ousting four Republican governors in southern states is still a tough road, GOP governors are laying some solid groundwork for their opponents to do so. Considering the gains made by Biden in 2020, including flipping four states blue, it may prove inevitable that they succeed.
‘Democrats still face many headwinds in these Sun Belt states, especially in contests for state offices, and historically the president’s party has suffered losses in his first midterm election. But across each of these states, Republicans officials have made a consistent choice that could provide Democrats an opening to build on Biden’s advances.’
Governor Doug Ducey has the lowest approval rating of any governor in the U.S., according to this polling released today. Arizona was so bad it got its own section in the report. https://t.co/9XDtHhCPwU pic.twitter.com/wrMfmhiDWQ
— Scott Bourque (@sdbourque1) July 9, 2020