Cory Gardner’s Interesting Past on Women’s Issues

(Gardner probably meant to say buyer’s remorse. Or something. – promoted by MADCO)

I read Pols’ post yesterday about Cory Gardner’s co-sponsorship of H.R. 3 with both interest and no small amount of outrage.  As a woman and a CD-4 voter, these things are of obvious concern to me.  I don’t think it needs much disclosure but I will disclose anyway, I’m a Democrat and voted for Betsy Markey.  The idea of the largely male Republican majority in the 112th Congress redefining the definition of rape is disgusting.

Frankly, even though I dislike Gardner, I was surprised he attached his name to this piece of legislation.  For those of you who followed the CD-4 race, and Bob Moore’s excellent attempts to get both candidates on the record about these issues, you know that Gardner went out of his way to avoid all discussion of abortion.

In particular, Moore called Gardner out for telling a Tea Party forum that he would carry legislation to outlaw abortion – and then denying that he ever said so to the Coloradoan editorial board.  (I tried to find the link from the Coloradoan to post but it looks like it is now archived.  The Huffington Post link still exists:…  If Bob Moore is following this thread, maybe he can post the pertinent links.)

Fueled by the disquieting news about H.R. 3, I decided to dig a little further into Gardner’s past to see if he has taken positions that would lead him to help champion something like this.  What I found just makes me regret I did not spend more time digging this up and talking about it during the election.  

I found a lot of this information through internet searches and on different blogs – but I sought to verify every vote by looking at the archives kept on the Colorado state house website at…

(And yes…I just finished writing a dissertation so I am still citation happy.)

In 2007, Gardner was one of only 9 state house members to vote against requiring hospitals to inform survivors of a sexual assault of the availability of emergency contraception.  The bill did exempt health care professionals who objected on religious grounds and did not require a hospital to provide emergency contraception to a survivor not at risk of becoming pregnant.  [2007 Digest of Bills, June 2007]

In 2008, Gardner was one of only 6 state house members to vote against continuing the Domestic Violence Offender Management Board until 2017. The board sets standards for the evaluation, treatment, and monitoring of convicted domestic violence offenders.   [HB08-1232 fiscal note,  6/19/08; HB08-1232, House Journal page 1849, 5/02/08]

In 2008, was one of only 6 state house members to vote against enacting the Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act, requiring an employer to provide time for a nursing mother to express milk for up to two years.  The time could be paid or unpaid but the employer would also have to make a reasonable effort to provide a private location for the mother. [HB08-1276 fiscal note, Legislative Council Staff, 7/11/08; HB08-1276, House Journal page 672, 2/27/08]

This one really stumped me… In 2007, Gardner was one of only 5 state house members to vote against compiling a report to track sexually violent predators.   The bill directed the Department of Corrections and the Judicial Department to jointly submit to the General Assembly an annual report concerning sexually violent predators who were in or released from custody or were on probation.  [HB07-1172, House Journal page 364, 2/12/07]

I remember Markey attacking Gardner on this issue during the campaign…but again, in a year when everything was about the economy, it did not get a lot of play.  In 2006, Gardner voted against intercepting the payment of gambling winnings to satisfy debts owed to the state, including outstanding court fees, unpaid child support, medical support, taxes or penalties.  

Gardner had more company in opposing that bill – 16 reps total voted against it – but still…I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask that outstanding child support come out of gambling earnings.   According the Denver Post at the time, the state had more than $1.1 billion in uncollected child support and that tapping casino and racetrack winnings could recover up to $1 million a year. [Denver Post, 3/06/06 – I know we can’t link back to the paper but this is the article where this information came from and in the interest of being accurate, I included the cite.]

There are other examples of Gardner opposing bills that the pro-choice community would support – where he voted with a majority of Republicans to oppose or support something.  My attempt here is not to highlight that Gardner is pro-life.  That was never at issue.  My point is that he has a history of taking extreme positions within his own Party on issues of great concern to women.

Seen through this lens, with the benefit of some history that frankly did not get a lot of play during the campaign, Gardner looks exactly like the newest version of Marilyn Musgrave.  For now, in a district that is still heavily conservative – he can probably get away with it.

But in a redistricting year coupled with a big Presidential election?  

Well…Pols is right…Gardner (and the voters of the 4th CD) should have read the fine print.

38 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. droll says:

    First, congratulations!

    Second, thanks for writing this.

    Third, WOW.

  2. Gypsy Chief says:

    There were hints during the GOP primary that Gardner would be an anti-choice member if elected. But Gardner was smart. He soft pedalled all wedge issues until the election. Now, as you say, he has signed on to H.R. 3 but that’s not all. He has also signed on as a cosponsor to H.R. 10 on administration regulations and H.R. 97 on greenhouse gasses. I am using to assemble his record. Thank you so much for this diary. Do you think that Betsy would be interested in running again? News reports say she is being courted. If so I think she should get some iron-clad assurances from DCCC.

  3. Almost all of those votes could be spun as a “small government” or “civil liberties” approach, but that won’t fly outside an existing right-wing base (and a wing of the base that, incidentally, is vulnerable to courting from far-right third parties). “More sexual predators with less monitoring in your community!” isn’t a pitch that’ll fly with undecided moderates in 2012. Or ever.

    OK, time for a badass woman to announce her candidacy. Whoever she is (Markey redux?), she’s got my volunteer hours after Perlmutter, despite the unfortunately long drive to CD2.  

    • Gypsy Chief says:

      Gardner is also a cosponsor of H.R.96 The Internet Freedom Act. Don’t want to hijack this thread which is about Cory’s record wrt women’s issues. But, if there is a right-wing position to take Cory has taken it. Meanwhile, on Jan 29 he wrote an oped for the Coloradoan all about saving money in Washington and getting the economy turned around. Actual score so far ‘favors polluters over kids with asthma’, ‘wants to tighten definition of rape’, ‘wants to make Internet safe for giant corps’ … cosponsors of all of these are Michelle Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, the usual suspects.

  4. onebigrepublican says:

    Please note my former signature is missing though.  Not necessarily for this, but because Gardner is, plain and simple, SHOW BOATING more than he is showing that he wants to do what is right by the people of the 4th Congressional District.  

  5. Pat Boon says:

    Cory’s winning strategy was to take his qualifications: 1) Republican 2) Has a pulse. Then avoiding any maccaca moments by keeping his mouth shut.

    It worked.

  6. EmeraldKnight76 says:

    Where was NARAL? Why weren’t they shouting from the rooftops about his record? Where was Markey? I am in NO way a Gardner supporter, at all, but I gotta say that we Dems have to take some responsibility for these mistakes. And electing this, I’ll go with asshole, as a Rep. was obviously a huge mistake.

    Let’s not repeat it.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      and ran as Republican Lite as her strategy.  Bennet on the hand went after Buck with the extermist brush.  One failed miserably.  The other won in an upset.  I doubt that Markey’s strategy would have accepted NARAL help.  It was a truly worthless campaign that never developed a message that her votes were worth important in the right way.

      • ace41 says:

        That Bennet had on Buck.  There was not hours of tape of him saying dumb things.

        And I’m sorry…but in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats by almost 40,000 voters…you need to run as a moderate.  The numbers for a statewide election are just fundamentally different.

        She lost in one of the worst districts for a Dem in a year when almost every Democrat elected in 2006 and 2008 lost as well.

        I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment of her campaign.  They ran a well funded, well staffed, well executed operation.  I think in any other year she would have won based on those things alone.  

        In a year like 2010, when Committee Chairmen and long time safe members are dropping like flies, you can’t tag her campaign for not being able to survive in what was pretty much universally recognized as one of the top 10 pick up opportunities for the GOP from the very start of 2009.

        • Craig says:

          All this may be true.  But she had enough ammunition, and she didn’t use it.  She was a moderate.  She just didn’t act like Gardner was an extreme right-winger, indeed no different than Marilyn Musgrave.  She wasn’t aggressive and she lost.  Yes, it was a bad year, but her campaign strategy was awful.

          • dlof says:

            The opposition to Markey ramped up during the American Clean Energy and Security Act (aka Cap & Trade) debate, and continued hard for more than a year and a half.  It was loud, angry, and very good at painting Betsy as someone who did not listen to the people. IMHO, that message was unfair, but it was well planned and well delivered, and resulted in a loss that is really not comparable to any race in which Musgrave was involved.

            Could Betsy have done different things, sure. Could she have stood against the tide and taken a loud and public stand in favor of healthcare reform.  Maybe.  At the end of the day, however, it would not have made any bottom line difference.

            Gardner’s campaign did an excellent job of keeping him out of the spotlight, and successfully left the messaging “She doesn’t listen.”

            I say this as someone who cooked meals for campaign staff, and who has a close relationship to many players involved in this.  The district voted out Musgrave in 2008, and would have elected anyone else, but the district did not turn blue in the slightest.  The opposition ran a great campaign, and made it nigh on impossible for Gardner to lose.  Betsy’s campaign could not have done differently anything that would have changed the loss.

            For what it’s worth, I’m proud to have had Betsy represent me for the last two years, years in which a huge number of very significant pieces of legislation were passed.

            • ace41 says:

              Respectfully…there was no strategy – good, bad or indifferent – that would have won this race for a Democrat in 2010.  And given that she raised close to $3.8 million, ran a top down professional field strategy from beginning to end and did everything from working behind coffee counters to holding those Congress on your Corner events every other weekend, the idea that she wasn’t aggressive enough ignores the facts.

        • rdawkins22 says:

          Hi, Ace41.  I loved your piece. But I have to disagree with your assessment that Markey’s campaign lacked ammo on Gardner.  I worked on the Markey campaign in 2008, but spent 2010 as an independent blogger. I wrote several pieces during the last campaign, including a couple for this website, on how Gardner continually staked out positions on social issues in general and women’s issues in particular that were to the right of even Ken Buck. In fact, I wrote a nearly identical piece to this one highlighting his anti-woman credentials back in October.

          The campaign ignored much of the research done by me and other bloggers. Instead, they ran a campaign that attempted to highlight her credentials as an advocate for fiscal restraint. The voters didn’t buy it, whether rightfully or wrongfully, because of her votes for the stimulus, health care reform, and cap and trade.  

          She attempted, in other words, to go head-long directly into the political winds. But, as any political scientist will tell you, when the political environment is stacked against you, change the subject!  

    • redstateblues says:

      did have ads that highlighted Gardner’s terrible record on issues like this. It’s quite possible that it wasn’t done effectively, but Markey seemed content to focus on jobs and the economy. Of course, if they had known he was going to support a radical redefinition of rape laws, they probably would have run some negative stuff about that.

      Come to think of it, that would have played a lot better than “Gardner’s wind tax”.

    • ace41 says:

      And that there should have been a lot more press covering this.  I also think the third party groups should have done more to put these issues front and center.

      I don’t think Markey could have done more to highlight this stuff.  I heard her talk about Gardner’s choice issues a lot but she had to focus on the economic issues.  And Gardner was careful on the campaign trail…he never let himself be taped saying something dumb along the lines of Ken Buck.

      I also think that we the voters and activists, and you’re right…especially Democrats, need to take more responsibility for looking into these things.  Markey was telling people every chance she had the danger of Cory Gardner as a representative.  I knew a lot of Dems who heard all of that and still decided not to vote – for a whole host of frankly asinine reasons.

      That’s one of the reasons I wrote this post.  I realized I had to take more responsibility for bringing these things to light.  And helping out the elected leaders who are making the tough choice to run for office and fight these battles.  

  7. BobMoore says:

    Here’s a link to the audio recordings from the 2009 tea party forum and the 2010 Coloradoan editorial board meeting.

  8. DaftPunkDaftPunk says:

    It’s well established that women voters afraid of what a Senator Ken Buck would mean on issues important to women meant a great deal to Michael Bennet’s election statewide.

    Is CD-4 so much more conservative, that pressing this issue might not be a smart move for a pro-choice candidature, or was the Markey campaign not clued in to how these issues were torpedoing Buck.  It seems to be that ads portraying Ken and Corey as two peas in a pod might might have moved some women.

    • DaftPunkDaftPunk says:

      Wrote this hours ago, and hit preview but not post.

      • redstateblues says:

        was the Markey campaign not clued in to how these issues were torpedoing Buck.

        Bingo. A big problem for Democrats in 2010 was a lack of communication between campaigns.

        • ace41 says:

          Again…not the same ammo on Gardner as folks had on Buck (in other words, really crazy clips of Buck saying terrible things) and I’m telling you, as a pro-choice Democratic women living in the district who had to stomach Musgrave for 6 years…the choice issue does not take a candidate as far as it does in Jeffco and other places.  Especially in a year when everyone cares about the economy.

          I met Anne Caprara in 2008 a few times – she came from EMILY’s List was my recollection and she spoke to me a lot about the choice stuff when I asked.  I can’t imagine she wasn’t watching what happened with Buck.

          I also think Gardner worked the charm offensive pretty hard.  I had my unaffiliated neighbor tell me she was going to support him even though he was anti-choice and she’s a Planned Parenthood supporter because she “just liked him” and was worried about the deficit.

          I just think it’s really unfair to compare the challenges in CD-4 with those statewide.  And again, I met and worked with a lot of the staff and they were really top notch.

      • ace41 says:

        I knew a few of the Markey staffers and we discussed the choice issue in particular on a few occasions.  It just did not have the resonance in CD-4 as it did statewide.  I live in this district and I think people need to remember that before Markey came along, this district elected Marilyn Musgrave three times…despite having other credible alternatives.

        I just have to say again, comparing the obstacles that Bennet faced getting elected statewide versus what Markey faced in CD-4 is not a fair comparison.  CD-4 is much harder for a Democrat.  Obama won the state in 2008…he lost CD-4.

        I can attest that the Markey campaign was targeting women in the mail over the choice issue.  But remember…a congressional race budget just does not stretch as far as a Senate one.

        Sorry to be so adamant about this, but I spent a lot of time volunteering with this race and even more time living in this district.  I sincerely don’t think there was anything Markey could have done to win this seat in 2010.

        2012 is another matter.

        • Middle of the Road says:

          but I can say that I have to say, after living in this district for 19 years, working heavily on Angie Paccione’s campaign and working in coordination with Markey’s this year, that your observations about her campaign and the make up of this district are dead on. In a nationally bad year for Democrats, it was almost a given we would lose this seat.

        • droll says:

          It probably would’ve been worth a few points, but this wasn’t a few points kind of race. In ’12 those points could leave Gardner unemployed. So hurray for that at least!

  9. Rainidog says:

    We can’t go back and redo 2010, but we can darn sure be ready for ’12.  And one way we do that is keep this well-researched post, and use the info every time he sticks his head up.

    Given that the Teapublicans in the House are busy pushing social wedge issues, esp. ones that adversely affect women, and ignoring any reality based work on job creation/economy–we should have plenty of opportunity for LTE’s and blog posts.  

    Let us embed these facts about Gardner into the minds of the voters in CD-4.

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