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TO: Interested parties

FROM: Marshall Cohen, DGA Political Director

MEMO: DGA and DemGovs Show Roadmap for 2020 Success

DATE: June 26th, 2019

Today, Democratic presidential candidates take the debate stage for the first time to woo primary and
general voters alike.

The same critical issues that resonated in 2018 are continuing to define the 2020 presidential race.
The contest will come down to who voters believe best understands these issues and can offer up the
practical solutions that best address the challenges American families face.

As the 2020 contest continues to heat up, presidential candidates should look to Democratic
governors’ success in 2017 and 2018 and how they are governing by getting things done. That is the
best road map to the White House.

The historic success of the Democratic Governors Association in the 2017/2018 election provides an
example of a path to victory in 2020. Democratic governors won in states across the map, from
Kansas to New Mexico to Maine, including four states won by President Trump in 2016.

The 2017/2018 cycle

The Democratic Governors Association saw historic gains during the 2017/2018 cycle. A record seven
seats were flipped to Democratic control on Election Night 2018, while nine open or incumbent
Democratic seats were protected. In 2017, the DGA won both Virginia and New Jersey. After our huge
wins, a majority of Americans are now represented by a Democratic governor.

Most notably, four of the wins in 2018 were states carried by President Trump in 2016 - Michigan,
Kansas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, and since 2016 the DGA has won seven states where Trump
picked up electoral college delegates.

What worked

The success of Democratic gubernatorial candidates across a diverse spread of states showed that a
campaign focused on the kitchen table issues voters care about paves a path to victory. A message
centered around protecting and expanding access to health care, investing in public education, and
creating economic security resonated with voters from Oregon, to Nevada, to Michigan, to Maine.
Once in office, Democratic governors’ priorities have remained tied to these key campaign promises.
Governors don’t have the luxury of pontificating without taking action. Voters expect and demand

As legislative sessions wrap up around the country, Democratic governors are ushering through historic
investments in education, policies aimed at protecting and expanding access to health care, and
strengthening their states’ economies through job training and increases to the minimum wage

The roadmap: messaging and action

Health care:
What they ran on:
● Candidates tapped into worries about the increasing fragility of access to affordable, quality
care. Republican governors blocked Medicaid expansion and fought the ACA, while GOP
candidates threatened to rip away coverage from hundreds of thousands of families.
Democratic campaigns focused on plans to increase access to care while promising to codify
key protections of the ACA and protect voters from the Trump administration’s harmful

What’s getting done:

● MAINE - Gov. Janet MILLS expanded Medicaid on her first day in office, fulfilling a campaign
pledge and respecting the will of Maine voters.
● NEVADA - Gov. Steve SISOLAK codified the ACA granted protections for individuals with pre-
existing conditions into state law.
● COLORADO - Gov. Jared POLIS signed legislation targeting surprise billing by medical providers.
● WISCONSIN AND KANSAS- Gov. Tony EVERS and Gov. Laura KELLY continue to fight for
Medicaid expansion despite the GOP-controlled state legislature’s strong opposition. Evers’
plan would put an estimated 82,000 more people on the program while Kelly’s plan would
cover an addition 150,000 Kansans.

What they ran on:
● Concerns over the quality of public schools and the lack of funding for classrooms were
amplified in 2018 by the #RedforEd movement around the country. Republican governors
showed their true priorities by cutting education budgets and leaving public schools behind.
Democratic gubernatorial candidates responded by promising increases in education funding
and teacher pay raises.

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What’s getting done:
● MICHIGAN - Gov. Gretchen WHITMER’s proposed budget includes the largest investment in
public school operations in a generation of students.
● NEW MEXICO - Gov. Michelle LUJAN GRISHAM signed a six percent pay increase for all public
school staff into law.
● NEVADA - Gov. Steve SISOLAK signed the largest public education budget in Nevada’s state
history. The funding also includes a salary raise for all Nevada public school educators.
● KANSAS - Gov. Laura KELLY signed a bipartisan law in April that increases the state’s education
funding by roughly $90 million a year. The new law led Kansas’ Supreme Court to declare the
state was finally spending enough money on its public schools after almost a decade long legal

Economic security:
What they ran on:
● Republican governors had ignored or been slow to respond to stagnant wages, limited worker
benefits, and a shifting economy without a qualified workforce to keep up. Voters were
concerned not just about whether they could take time off in their current job to care for a sick
kid, but if their skills would be in demand through retirement. Democratic candidates focused
on what was needed at every level to build a diverse economy - from investments in the
workforce to big plans for infrastructure projects to increasing renewable energy projects in
their states.

What’s getting done:

● PENNSYLVANIA - Gov. Tom WOLF included an additional $10M in funding for Career and
Technical Education programs in his 2019-2020 budget. State lawmakers supported the
governor’s 2018 budget proposal for an initial $10M increase in vocational funding - the first
increase in almost a decade.
● MAINE - Gov. Janet MILLS has signed legislation advancing Maine’s offshore wind industry
including a statewide initiative and participation in a federal task force.
● MICHIGAN - Gov. Gretchen WHITMER continues to push for a substantial increase in
infrastructure funding to fix the state’s notoriously bad roads and bridges.
● NEW MEXICO - Gov. Michelle LUJAN GRISHAM secured $10M in funding for the state’s Job
Training Incentive Program to help expand the state’s economy into rural areas and new
● CONNECTICUT - Gov. Ned LAMONT signed legislation increasing the minimum wage to $15/hr
by 2023.

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Key points:
● The kitchen table issues that ushered Democratic gubernatorial candidates to victory in 2018
continues to resonate in 2019 and will be huge factors in 2020.
● The Democratic Governors Association’s historic 2018 election cycle across a diverse range of
states should be seen as a roadmap to the White House in 2020.
● The Democrats’ 2018 victories in four Trump states - Michigan, Kansas, Wisconsin, and
Pennsylvania - shows that a campaign focused on health care, education, and the economy
wins over voters who Democratic presidential candidates need to win.
● Democratic governors are continuing to stay focused on these issues while in office. Their
accomplishments in key policy areas should be looked to for examples of how Democrats can
● In the era of Trump and dysfunction in D.C., Democratic 2020 contenders should look to the
states to see how Democratic governors are standing up to Trump and his policies, exemplifying
successful leadership, and shaping our party’s future.
● Democratic 2020 contenders should take note of how these governors won and what they’re
doing now that they’re in office to help shape a successful 2020 campaign.

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