April 2, 2020

High Stakes Snub

Republican Donor King Applauds Democratic Governors
Who Trump Trashed for Leading Battle with Coronavirus

MIKE HAILEY

Texas Governor Greg Abbott was missing from a list of major state leaders who the number one GOP donor in America praised on Thursday for their efforts in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

But three of the four governors who Sheldon Adelson cited for exceptional leadership in the early stages of the pandemic are Democrats. The other is a Republican who ignored President Donald Trump's initial attempts to play down the COVID-19 threat and had his state as or more prepared for the outbreak than any of his counterparts in the United States.

Adelson said that Democratic Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gavin Newsom of California and Steve Sisolak of Nevada had been leading by example by "taking decisive actions to protect health and safety – decisions they surely never imagined they would be required to make.” Adelson included GOP Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio in the mix of accolades well.

Adelson - the casino magnate who founded and runs the Las Vegas Sands corporation - also commended Trump and congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle for passing "the largest rescue package in history" last in a record amount of time in a reference to the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill.

But the president and other Republicans who the gambling tycoon has bankrolled might view the Adelson leadership appraisal as a thinly-veiled slap in light of the fact that the Democratic governors who he singled out have sharply assailed Trump for failing to take the coronavirus seriously for a couple of months.

Adelson appeared to take another liberal turn when he urged businesses across the United States to follow his lead with a promise to keep paying employees who've been unable to work with the strip shut down for the past three weeks amid the COVID-19 onslaught. Adelson's resorts in the U.S. have more than 10,000 workers on their payrolls while 40,000 are employed by the interests that he owns in Macau.

Adelson's comments today could have GOP leaders and loyalists concerned about the potential loss of countless sums of future campaign funds that might be headed instead to Democrats as a consequence of a more aggressive response to the worst public health crisis since the Spanish Flu ravaged the world in 1918.

Trump would have the most to lose in such an event. Adelson, whose empire includes the Venetian and Palazzo hotels on the Vegas strip, has contributed more than $200 to Republican campaigns and committees in the past two election cycles. Adelson has donated more than $25 million to Trump and had been planning to

Adelson in February had announced his plans to host a fundraiser for the president's re-election bid at his Las Vegas mansion in March before it was cancelled amid the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Trump had declared on the final day of February that the coronavirus was a hoax that the establishment media had perpetuating with the Democrats as co-conspirators. Democrats like Cuomo and Newsom were pleading with Trump at the time for a less lackadaisical response and receiving insults from the president in return.

Trump had been vowing as recently as last week to have the nation up and running again by the Easter weekend in a move that fueled false hopes among his loyal followers even though it appeared to be completely unrealistic in the eyes of other Americans. Medical and scientific experts have conceded that the fight to contain the coronavirus was lost as a result of Trump's dismissive attitude despite intelligence information that warned of a catastrophe of epic magnitude in the making.

While Abbott didn't make the Adelson accolade list, the top Texas leader has been the target of increasing criticism for a sluggish response in a state where the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had swelled to almost 5,000 with more than 70 deaths by Thursday afternoon.

Abbott's critics are warning that the Texas governor might have set the state back with an order this week that exempted church services from strict limitations on large public gatherings that have been breeding grounds for COVID-19 and its subsequent spread to the general population. Abbott declared public worship to be an essential service.

Mike Hailey's column appears on a regular basis in Capitol Inside

CONSIDER THE SOURCE

Mike Hailey presents state politics with a personal touch. He's the only Texas Capitol journalist who's been to the dark side and back - having worked for two major newspaper bureaus before signing on as press secretary for Bob Bullock - the most powerful and legendary political leader of his time in the state. Hailey's Comment, which is published in Capitol Inside on a regular basis, is a direct reflection of that experience.

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