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Politico Governor’s Summit 2024. Daniel Merritt, Gonzaga University, Intern.

On Thursday, February 22nd, Politico held its annual Governor’s Summit hosting six state governors and reviewing their thoughts on various issues. With a range of political views ranging from those of Republican Governors Association head Brian Lee to liberal New York governor Kathy Hochul, many sides of the partisan spectrum were present. Still, one can’t help but feel as though the governors’ responses were reserved and cryptic given that this is an election year where political transparency is arguably more important than ever. This article summarizes relevant views by the event’s panel of six governors, attempting to provide insight on future policy. Nonetheless, extracting substance from their words is akin to fighting an uphill battle given the governor's ability to dance around questions.

First to speak was Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia. He voiced a desire to expand Georgia’s electric car (EV) market, elucidating plans to centralize electric car manufacture in his state as a means of moving production inside U.S. borders and emphasizing clean energy. He stated that he views the electric car market from a capitalist perspective: “If you don’t want one (an electric car), don’t buy one.” Regardless, he thinks there is huge demand for EVs and that there should be a resulting focus on internal supply. In relation to the upcoming election cycle, Kemp has made clear his disposition to Trump’s policies and candidacy. He also stays incredibly disapproving of Biden’s current presidency, opting for candidates like Nikki Haley instead. 

Following Kemp was head of the Republican Governors Association, Bill Lee of Tennessee. Lee had very little to say in regards to sustainability and social governance, opting to talk instead about his state’s successful funding programs for public schools. Like Kemp, he voiced disapproval towards a Trump re-election also expressing interest in Nikki Haley’s potential election. 

Closing out the first round of speakers and taking the most time of all governors was Chris Sununu of New Hampshire. Sununu was the most outspoken of all participants, trying to exemplify his espoused philosophy of representative transparency. Sununu voiced a number of neoliberal perspectives: he argues against gerry-mandering and indicates the he is ‘pro-choice’. Nonetheless, Sununu expressed  his adamant hatred of Biden’s presidency indicating that he would prefer Trump to take office. Oddly enough, he further stated that Trump’s term was an anomaly and that we will never have another president like that. When asked if Ron Desantis was Trump’s potential predecessor, Sununu replied “No, Ron’s a great guy”. Instead of providing material data to relieve the concerns presented to him, Sununu urged the audience to ‘trust in America’s recovery’. He says that America will always recover as it has in the past and that voting out of fear of the opposing candidate is the worst approach to the upcoming election.

Liberal New York governor Kathy Hochul spoke after the event’s reconvening. Unfortunately, little was discussed in relation to ESG concepts. Hochul spent most of her time addressing the fears of abortion restriction stemming from Alabama’s recent laws. As a result of going overtime in the first half of the event, Hochul was given significantly less time than her conservative counterparts. As such, many of the opinions previously addressed were cut short.

Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma appeared next. He spoke about investing in Oklahoma’s energy manufacture. Second only to Texas, he talks of Oklahoma’s successful energy market as the economic push America needs to move forward in the future. He also mentions his push for religion in schooling, Oklahoma has implemented religious charter schools and Stitt only hopes to further the initiative. In regards to religious discrimination for the minorities present in Oklahoma’s school system, the implications seem to be significant.

Last to speak was Governor Jared Polis of Colorado. Surprisingly, Polis was the most reserved. He chose to dance around almost every question thrown at him, keeping his reasons for recent actions solely to himself. The only thing that he made clear was that he continues to support Biden’s administration and that the president is ‘as sharp as ever’. After Governor Hochul’s time was cut short, it was unfortunate that Polis chose not to provide a stronger liberal counterargument to the largely conservative-centered discussions of the day. As can be inferred, discussions of the governor's views on ESG concepts were very few. If this showcase bodes anything, it is that the drama surrounding this year's election cycle is sure to take center stage… possibly pushing important social governance issues into the background in the process. 

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