Cory Gardner: The Devil You’ll Soon Know

The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic offers solid analysis today of the entry of Congressman Cory Gardner into the 2014 U.S. Senate race. As we began working through yesterday, once the elation among Republicans that an incumbent member of Congress will take on incumbent Democrat Mark Udall wears off, serious questions about the viability of Gardner as the top-line Republican candidate on the 2014 ballot present themselves:

Young and telegenic, career Colorado politico Gardner has been touted as the great hope for a state Republican Party that for years has lost races for top seats. The main, widely acknowledged reason for those defeats is that GOP candidates have been pulled to the right by a hard-core activist base while the broader state electorate has moved to the left.

But as top Republicans have struggled, Gardner has easily garnered votes. He won two elections to the Colorado legislature in a sparsely populated agricultural eastern plains district. In 2010, he was the only candidate in the Republican field with any experience as a lawmaker running in the state’s safely conservative high-plains Fourth Congressional District. He went from the Statehouse to the nation’s Capitol by espousing hardline Tea Party positions on social issues and energy policy.

Republicans here generally seem to be banking on Gardner as a political type that has been missing in the ranks as late. The hope is that he can sell a brand that has increasingly skewed old, hardcore, inflexible and threatening. That’s the image projected by statewide figures such as Ken Buck, Pete Coors, Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo. Insiders see Gardner as more in line with Republicans of the past who enjoyed more mainstream appeal, men like Wayne Allard, Bill Owens or Hank Brown, who all won top offices in the state.

The question now is whether Gardner, coming up as he has in the era of the Tea Party and embracing Tea Party positions for political advantage, has ruined his chance at convincing voters he is different than the Tea Party Republicans who can’t win a statewide race here. [Pols emphasis] Gardner, after all, has a record he has to run on, established over years where the party swerved right and away from compromise. When Gardner takes aim at Udall over Obamacare, Udall can fire back that Gardner voted to shut down the government. In the moderate middle-class Denver suburbs where elections are decided in Colorado, the angry, pointless, expensive shutdown may be at least as toxic a topic as Obamacare.

As we said, Gardner's entry into the Senate race is the direct result of the weak, out-of-touch field contending up until yesterday. The problem, much like Ken Buck himself, is that Gardner has already embraced all manner of unsightly hard-right positions from his safe Republican seat in Congress. Gardner is an proud supporter of the "Personhood" abortion ban, as the video above makes unequivocally clear. Gardner's biggest asset, a higher profile as a congressional incumbent also works against him–denying Republicans the anti-incumbency furor that might otherwise help them in this race.

Gardner faces other difficulties unique to himself, like his highly visible role in the controversy over disaster relief funds after last year's floods along the Front Range. East Coast politicians, including GOP Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, raged at Gardner and the rest of the Colorado GOP delegation as "hypocrites" after they voted against relief for Hurricane Sandy victims some months before. Gardner's name has surfaced several times as a participant in swanky fundraisers and overseas junkets.

The point is, and this is what we're increasingly hearing today from Democrats looking at this fundamentally reshaped race, is that the race remains entirely winnable for Mark Udall against Gardner–even more so if you assume, as seems safe, that whoever won the GOP primary would have enjoyed the support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and other big-money Republicans. Okay, maybe not Randy Baumgardner. But when all is said and done, it may well be that Cory Gardner was no better prepared to defeat Udall than Amy Stephens.

How many of you said the same about Jane Norton four years ago?

43 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. CDW says:

    Why the hoopla surrounding this switch?   What does this rep from the eastern plains have that has everyone so excited? Sounds to me as if the press likes Gardner a lot and will give him plenty of time in the spotlight.

    • CDW says:

      My comment turned out to be pretty scramble after editing it in a hurry.  But seriously, what gives gardner this leg up if he's just another tpartyer?

      • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

        The money is the main thing. He's got around $875k in the bank, which is more than the rest of the field combined.

        But otherwise, that's exactly what we've been saying. He's a younger Ken Buck or Bob Schaffer — that's all.

        • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

          and there are some among us who will see to it that knowledge is distributed far and wide…on a regular basis.

          Gardners' biggest asset?…he is not that well known… but he will be.

    • He has cash on hand and at least the early signs of being less gaffe-prone than some of the others is my guess.

      He's been touted as a rising GOP star. Of course, so was Bobby Jindal – until he gave the SOTU response a few years back. And Sarah Palin – we know how that worked out…

      • BlueCatBlueCat says:

        Rising stars seem to come and go with lightening speed. Also Marco Rubio, not to mention Chris Christie. How about way back when our own Governor Owens was the rising R star with big presidential potential?  Oh and remember how all the pundits were calling 2008 as a for sure race between Giuliani and HRC with Giuliani winning? It must be nice being a pundit and getting paid big bucks for predictions as accurate as those. 

  2. DawnPatrol says:

    I genuinely look forward to engaing the odious backslider Gardner and his out-of-state puppeteers (read: Koch, Rove, LaPierre, et al) in a no-holds-barred, bare-knuckles political cage match. In fact, the prospect has me almost giddy.

    Just let him TRY to slither away from his extreme, Koch-soaked record…

  3. exlurker19 says:

    Wow, thought I'd gotten myself kicked out of Pols.  Took me 4 tries to reset my password after I was "undefined."  Cory Gardner is cute, way cuter than the field was before, hence all the excitement.  But the mockery about him viewing Greeley secession not unfavorably, etc will not play well when he wants to represent the state that he kinda thought maybe, could kinda secede from Colorado.  Easy to paint him as representing only Yuma and Greeley.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Sometimes I get "undefined" if I use the log in on the upper right but have no trouble on the log in I get when I hit reply. Sometimes even after getting that" undefined" on the upper right , when I hit reply I discover I'm logged in after all. Mostly it all works fine. It's just glitchy. Nothing sinister.

  4. Burr says:

    The Devil?  What happened to Colorado Pols?

  5. MadoneRider says:

    I can't wait to see the advertisements from his questioning of Secretary Sebelius about the ACA ads that were running here for Bro Insurance, when they had nothing to do with the Feds, and were prepared by a local non-profit.  They really showed that Gardner is a putz.

  6. roccoprahn says:

    The personhood thing's really going to hurt him now. No doubt there. His ridiculous secessionist crap makes him look like a little kid. The junketts pissed plenty of people off, but in Weld County, it was a non-story. In a State wide race, he packs a lot of baggage.

    My problem with gardner is that it's been my experience that he's a liar. About things he should know better than to lie about.

    Why did he run that con about refusing the government healthcare he draws as a sitting member of the US House? The tale included receiving a "cancellation notice", at first with no "renewal offer", then, when called on it, "a renewal offer that was something like a "bajillion trillion" more than he was paying". The whole thing ended with gardner being on the House plan ALL ALONG!

    Then the bullshit about "refusing his paycheck while the shutdown was on". Totally false. 

    Why? This stuff gets fact checked. CNN showed lamborn as the only Colorado lawmaker "refusing" his paycheck, albeit, after the Denver Post running the tale "gardner WOULD give his check to "charity". Never id'd a charity, never repeated the tall tale again. Pure bullshit. 

    gardner's bad……….really bad for Colorado. The thing about voting "nay" on the Sandy packages, then demanding relief here was really telling. This guy has no moral compass. 

    Udall needs to stick to his Yes on ACA, be proud of his Progressive votes, and promise the same for another 6.

    gardner can only get traction if Udall backs down. I remember schaffer, puffed up, full of "rightous indignation", baggage up the wazzoo, bringing cliff notes to a debate. Udall needs to be the guy that kicked his ass.

    gardner will get the republican votes. Given. The ONLY way he gets indies with his anti-women, pro personhood, teabag nonsense is if Udall gives them to him.

    We're not bill owens' Colorado any more. 

  7. Gray in Mountains says:

    The national R Senate campaign committee is going to be sure that Gardner gets uch financial support and likely campaign surrogates. I am not sure who initiated the conversation but the "backroom deal" that Owen Hill referenced involves national GOP. And, youo can be sure that Buck will get financial support from the national R Congressional campaign committee 

  8. 33 percent says:

    Will look forward to some balanced reporting on this site.  Here is a start.  Cong. Gardner has more than $800k in campaign funds on hand.  Sen. Udall has more than $4 million.  Both will enjoy millions more flowing into their coffers.  Sen. Udall's net worth is 10x that of Cong. Gardner (  Both are loyal party soldiers (Gardner voted with Rs 97% of the time; Udall voted with Ds 95% of the time) (  Hand-wringing about backroom politics should acknowledge the chairman of the DSCC is our other senator, Michael Bennet.  Sen. Bennet squeaked by the maligned Ken Buck by 1.7% — 28,000 votes.  Sen. Udall was only ahead of Randy Baumgardner by 2% in a poll released six weeks ago.  Sen. Udall is really hoping he won't be forced to oppose a ballot measure to allow local governments to ban fracking (which he will do, much to his environmental base's dismay).  The Tea Party actually is backing Owen Hill (today's Denver Post). In other words, this is far from any kind of settled race.

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      Are you insinuating that Owen will be supporting the local control initiative?

    • Andrew Carnegie says:

      33 percent,  Good luck on finding much balanced reporting here, occassional, but not often.  I don't see Hill having great Tea Party support.  They were largely supporting Buck before and I think they will tag along with putting all resources into taking Udall out.  That is just inference, but my take.

  9. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Nipinisk blecha nonsski see lognowsh w osbnoskinsk!

  10. greyeagle54 says:

    ~~My fellow Coloradoans Congressman Cory Gardner has entered the US SENATE race. I am telling everybody that Cory Gardner is the Right choice for Colorado. Why you say? Glad you asked.
    First let me say that I am wring this on my own I was not asked to write and NO backdoor dealing was done. I am not a politician. I am just a working guy who pays taxes. So here are the reasons
    He returned over $200,000 to the general fund (TAX DOLLARS) from his budget that was not used.
    That for my part means a lot. It means he is honest and did the right thing by returning the money.
    He doesn’t ask for funding to waste like others do. He was Born and raised in Colorado that is pure
    Colorado in fact his family goes back to 1886. He lives in the same house that his Great-Grandparents
     Did. that means he didn’t let his Position of being a congressman go to his head and Build a newer home. In fact when I meet him last year I address him as Mr. Gardner, he said Please call me Cory.
    So it doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent. Cory will do what’s right for Coloradoans. He will fight for our 2 Amendments rights. Cory opposed any efforts by the federal government to create a federal database of gun owners and works tirelessly to protect each and every right guaranteed to the citizens by the U.S. Constitution. Also just remember Udall voted for OBAMACARE. Cory believes Healthcare reform should never be about forcing people to buy a product they don’t want or taxing them if they refuse to purchase it. 
    Ray Watts a hard working Coloradoan.
    LA JUNTA  


  11. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Udall/Gardner race round table discussion on "Up with Steve Kornacki".  on "Dangers for Establishment Republicans"

    The Republican strategist is still repeating the debunked "335K cancellations  / Udall bullies insurance commissioner" talking point.  I guess that's really all that they have. Not getting much traction with it, though.


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