Democratic gubernatorial winners in swing states have message for national party

Two Democrats who won gubernatorial races in the swing states of Michigan and Pennsylvania delivered similar messages to their national party on Sunday, saying their keen focus on kitchen table issues helped them secure their wins.

“I can tell you we stayed focused on the fundamentals, right, whether it’s fixing the damn roads or making sure our kids are back on track after an incredible disruption in their learning, or just simply solving problems and being honest with the people,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

CNN projected that Whitmer will win a second term by defeating GOP challenger Tudor Dixon in the key political battleground state.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro told Bash in a separate interview on “State of the Union” that his campaign’s success came from connecting with voters in often forgotten areas across rural, suburban and urban parts of the commonwealth. He said his campaign “spoke to them about practical things that would make their lives better.”

Shaprio, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, will defeat Republican Doug Mastriano, CNN has projected, in the open-seat race to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

Mastriano is among a number of fervent deniers of the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election who have lost their 2022 races. Dixon in Michigan has also made false claims about the 2020 election.

Whitmer’s and Shapiro’s comments underscore the different approaches taken by Democrats during the final stretch of the election, when some members of the party, particularly those in key swing states, stressed that the party’s closing message should be focused on the economy and not on global issues or more esoteric themes, like saving democracy.

“A governor can’t fix global inflation. But what we can do is take actions to keep more money in people’s pockets, protect our right to make our own decisions about our bodies,” Whitmer said. “And all of this was squarely front-and-center for a lot of Michigan voters and I suspect that’s probably true for voters across the country.”

Shapiro told Bash that his campaign “showed up and we treated people with respect. And we spoke to them about practical things that would make their lives better.”

“We ignored the noise coming out of Washington, DC, and instead focused on the good people of Washington County, Pennsylvania,” he said, adding that “helping (voters) understand how you can actually build a bridge between the parties to kind of take down the temperature and get real things done” is key to Democrats making gains with voters in rural areas.

Democrats also secured a critical win in Pennsylvania with the election of Lt. Gov. John Fetterman to flip the open US Senate seat of retiring Republican Pat Toomey.

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