Republican opposition to vaccine and mask mandates as the Delta variant surges across America is becoming a major campaign issue for Democrats.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom made public health measures a centerpiece of his successful effort to beat back a recall campaign.
Summing up the lessons of the recall, Washington Post correspondent Dave Weigel on Thursday reported, "Democrats now believe vaccination mandates can win votes."
"The turning point in the recall election came early in August, when Newsom announced new vaccination-or-testing mandates for health-care and education workers — and then, days later, began running ads about them. The recall election, the ads warned, was a 'matter of life and death.' The campaign's own polling found that a supermajority of Californians supported the policy, and the idea of ripping it away was a powerful motivator," Weigel explained.
Hours after Weigel's analysis was published online, Virginia gubernatorial nominees held their first debate in the commonwealth's 2021 campaign. The race pits Republican former Carlyle Group CEO Glenn Youngkin facing former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who once led the Democratic National Committee.
"The ongoing pandemic was the first topic of the night, and it appears it will remain a key issue in the campaign's final weeks. Vaccine mandates in particular continue to be a source of division among the candidates," Charlottesville's newspaper, The Daily Progress reported. "Youngkin sought to fend off attacks from the McAuliffe campaign, which derides Youngkin's opposition to vaccine mandates as dangerous."
The issue is also playing out in 2022 midterm election gubernatorial races.
"Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for all workers on his reelection effort, a move aimed at drawing attention to the differences between his handling of the pandemic and his Republican challengers, who oppose coronavirus mitigation mandates," the Chicago Tribune reported.
The issue is also playing out in Democrats' media campaigns in Illinois.
"The Democratic Governors Association is making the COVID-19 pandemic a central focus in the 2022 race for Governor. All four of the declared republicans running for the seat come under fire in the video," WSIL-TV reported Friday. "It uses interviews with the three of the men to showcase their 'anti-science' views on masks and vaccines."
Illinois GOP: Anti-Science, Anti Safety www.youtube.com
EDITOR'S NOTE: The author of this article worked on political campaigns for Gavin Newsom when the current governor was a local elected official in San Francisco.