North Carolina’s Cooper warns Dems against centering their 2022 campaigns on Trump: ‘Focus on your issues’

For over half a decade now, many in the Democratic Party have largely defined themselves by their opposition to former President Donald Trump. Now, however, one high-profile Democrat is warning that this strategy is starting to backfire on them.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) just took over as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), and according to Fox News, he recently told reporters that the Trump fixation isn’t helpful for the party.

“I just don’t think [Trump] needs to be the central focus,” Cooper said over the weekend when discussing Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin’s win over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in this year’s governor’s race in Virginia.

“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,” Cooper added, according to Fox. “Because our democracy is really at stake now.”

Turning Virginia red

McAuliffe, for his part, consistently tried to make Trump the main issue of Virginia’s gubernatorial contest. At one point, according to Fox, he invoked the former president’s name 13 times during a 15-minute speech.

Youngkin ultimately went on to defy the expectations of pollsters and beat McAuliffe by 2 points — despite President Joe Biden having carried the state by 10 points just one year prior.

In doing so, Youngkin broke a string of Democratic victories in the Old Dominion to be the first Republican elected to the commonwealth’s highest office since Bob McDonnell won the gubernatorial race in 2009.

Dems look to midterms

With Dems still reeling from McAullife’s loss, Gov. Cooper is not alone in raising the alarm. According to Fox, Democratic pollster Brian Stryker released a memo this month warning that his party will get “killed” in next year’s midterms if Trump becomes the primary focus.

“[I]f we are running 2022 on ‘Republican candidate = Trump,’ we’re getting killed,” Stryker declared, adding that Dems have a “weak national brand” that has made the party “vulnerable,” according to Fox.

“Voters couldn’t name anything that Democrats had done, except a few who said we passed the infrastructure bill,” the pollster complained, stressing that the legislation “didn’t overcome their opinions that we have spent the last year infighting and careening from crisis to crisis.”

While Democrats may not be able to campaign on Trump, campaigning on President Biden’s brings challenges of its own. According to FiveThirtyEight’s polling aggregate, just 43% of Americans approve of how Biden is doing his job.

With less than a year to go until voters cast their ballots, Dems sure have their work cut out for them.

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