Battleground states with Republican governors that Trump needs to win like Florida get every piece of equipment they ask for. New York, California, and Washington state get to beg at Trump's feet or their people die.
As states across the country have pleaded for critical medical equipment from a key national stockpile, Florida has promptly received 100 percent of its first two requests — with President Trump and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis both touting their close relationship.
States including Oklahoma and Kentucky have received more of some equipment than they requested, while others such as Illinois, Massachusetts and Maine have secured only a fraction of their requests.
It’s a disparity that has caused frustration and confusion in governors’ offices across the country, with some officials questioning whether politics is playing a role in the response.
Governors are making increasingly frantic requests to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for material. State and congressional leaders are flooding FEMA with letters and calls seeking clarity about how it is allocating suddenly in-demand resources such as masks, ventilators and medical gowns.
Frustration level is high,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) said of the struggle to find ventilators for patients infected by the novel coronavirus. “We’re hoping we’ll be able to get them. The federal government needs to help us with that. There’s no question.”
Governors and state officials have become increasingly frustrated by what they describe as a byzantine and unsteady process for distributing medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile. As they try to combat a worsening pandemic, several have complained about chaos and disarray within the system and a lack of guidance about how they can secure lifesaving supplies, according to interviews and documents from officials in more than a dozen states.
And yes, I know the outlier here is Kentucky, but that's Mitch McConnell's home state, and Mitch needs to win too in November.
There’s no direct evidence that Republican states are receiving more favorable treatment overall, and some GOP-led states such as Georgia have had trouble filling their requests. But Trump has contributed to the sense that politics could be a factor by publicly attacking Democratic governors who criticize his handling of the public health crisis.
Trump said last week that he is inclined not to speak with anyone who is insufficiently appreciative of his administration’s efforts. He has touted his personal relationships with several governors while also declaring that the federal government won’t be “a shipping clerk” for local officials who seek help in obtaining masks, ventilators and other critical supplies. States should buy the materials themselves, he said.
“All I want them to do — very simple — I want them to be appreciative,” Trump told reporters Friday. “I don’t want them to say things that aren’t true. I want them to be appreciative. We’ve done a great job. And I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about Mike Pence, the task force; I’m talking about FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers.”
Georgia's Brian Kemp is in Trump's doghouse for appointing Kelly Loeffler to the Senate rather than Trump's pick, Rep. Doug Collins back in December. Now Kemp is having "trouble filling their requests".
The states getting things they want are Republicans governors in Trump's good graces and Mitch McConnell's home state of Kentucky. Everyone else is getting screwed, and it will kill people.
One White House official said Trump is attuned to the electoral importance of Florida in November, giving added weight to the arguments DeSantis has made to the administration that his state’s economy should reopen as soon as possible.
“The president knows Florida is so important for his reelection so when DeSantis says that, it means a lot,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be frank. “He pays close attention to what Florida wants.”