There is No Cory Gardner Without Donald Trump

Right behind you, Mr. President!

Readers of Colorado Pols are well aware of the Faustian bargain that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) made when he fell in line firmly behind President Trump shortly after the 2016 election and tied his fortunes to the Big Orange Guy ahead of the 2018 election cycle. Any last hope that Gardner had for creating a sliver of daylight between himself and Trump evaporated in February, when the President told a cheering crowd in Colorado Springs that “he’s been with us 100%. There was no waver.”

As the 2020 Election grows ever closer, journalists around the country are catching up on Gardner’s dilemma. As Todd Purdum writes for The Atlantic, Gardner is a prime example of how Republicans nationwide have rolled over completely for Trump:

In the future museum of Never Trumpers turned Ever Trumpers, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado will have pride of place. [Pols emphasis] In 2016, Gardner called Donald Trump a “buffoon,” left the Republican National Convention after one day rather than watching him formally receive the party’s nomination, called for him to drop out of the race after the release of the Access Hollywood tape, and said he would write in Mike Pence’s name on his presidential ballot…

…“The party is now more a cult than a party,” says Norman Ornstein, a veteran congressional scholar at the American Enterprise institute and an Atlantic contributor. “The imperative not to be shunned or excommunicated is overwhelming—and it’s not just fear of Trump or Fox News. All their friends would treat them like apostates too.” GOP incumbents face a pragmatic choice, Ornstein told me: lose their base or risk losing swing voters. “They have all decided to double down on the base, and in Colorado that is an especially problematic choice, given the sizable number of suburban, college-educated voters repelled by Trump.”

Via The Atlantic (5/25/20)

As we wrote in this space last June, Gardner is positively terrified of crossing Trump even though it will likely cost him his seat in the U.S. Senate. In early 2019, Gardner became one of the first Senate Republicans to publicly endorse Trump’s re-election campaign — a remarkable turn of events considering that Gardner claims he didn’t even vote for the Republican Presidential nominee in 2016. In recent years, Gardner’s strategy related to Trump has been to go to ridiculous lengths to just not talk about it.

Bottoms up!

Democratic political adviser Craig Hughes, who managed Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D-Denver) campaign in 2010, is as mystified as everyone else at Gardner’s spinal deficiencies:

“It’s baffling,” Hughes told me. “I don’t know how he wins at this point. He’s the only Republican elected statewide now as it is. It has huge implications. Colorado is a state that for decades has rewarded bipartisan and independent leadership, whether that’s the pragmatic streak of a Michael Bennet or the independent streak of a Gary Hart. I’m convinced that a politician as talented as Gardner could have dared a different path here. There was a way to navigate and be seen as loyal without completely abasing yourself to Donald Trump and everything he does.” [Pols emphasis]

The Yuma Republican could potentially turn things around before November, though you’d have trouble finding someone who would take that bet. Instead of navigating a political future around Trump, Gardner decided instead to go down with the ship.


Recapping One Of Cory Gardner’s Worst Weeks

President Donald Trump, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the gross incompetence of President Donald Trump and the non-career professional side of his administration into harsh relief, along with the Republican political establishment that enabled and continues to prop up Trump through his daily displays of embarrassing ignorance, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado has taken a terrible beating in the polls, continuing to underperform a sliding Trump and showing deficits in corroborating polling matchups so large Democrats risk complacency if taken for granted–which means they won’t be, at least not yet.

Of all the bad weeks Gardner has had since Trump’s election, and especially since the outbreak of COVID-19, last week could be the worst. Briefly recap it with us:

Last weekend, after polling the previous week showed Gardner losing by as much as 18%, a new poll from showed Gardner’s approval rating fading to black and stuck several points below Trump’s own As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reported:

Global Strategy Group surveyed 800 registered voters in Colorado online between May 7 and 11. They found 37% of voters approve of the job Gardner is doing, which is lower than the 41% of Colorado voters who approve of the job Trump is doing. Thirty percent approved of Gardner’s work on coronavirus response.

Then Trump told the world that he’s taking a drug he has controversially touted for months, hydroxychloroquine, as a preventative measure despite no evidence it is effective for either treatment or prevention of COVID-19 and evidence it could be lethal. Tuesday, CNN’s Manu Raju tried to get Gardner to say something, anything about the President he’s endorsed for re-election, and Gardner’s lame dodge stuck out like a COVID toe:

Asked if Trump should be giving medical advice, Sen. Cory Gardner said: “I’m going to continue to work with the governor of Colorado and make sure Coloradans have what they need to get through this together…”

Then on Wednesday, Gardner snubbed a request by local NBC affiliate 9NEWS, the highest-rated local news channel in the Denver market, for a Senate debate:

Gardner is the first U.S. Senate candidate since Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell in 1998 to decline to debate their opponent on 9NEWS. [Pols emphasis] Nighthorse Campbell, a Democrat turned Republican, was facing Democrat Dottie Lamm at the time.

He is also the first candidate in any race to decline to debate their opponent on 9NEWS since 2014, when Tom Tancredo refused to debate Republican gubernatorial candidates Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler and Mike Kopp.

While Gardner did agree to some other proposed debates in the general election season, his refusal to go on 9NEWS keeps alive a running battle by reporters at the station to nail Gardner down on a variety of topics over the years going back to his flip-flop on abortion in the 2014 Senate race. This is an increasingly emblematic feud between Gardner and accountability that probably deserves its own blog post.

But of all of these stories that left Cory Gardner looking weak, cowardly, and in deep denial, Thursday’s humiliation was far and away the worst:

Gardner surprised many Wednesday by threatening to stop the Senate recess. He tweeted that it’s “unfathomable” for the chamber to go on a 10-day recess before considering additional coronavirus aid measures. The Senate has been in session the past couple of weeks, but mainly voting on nominations and confirmations.

While Gardner and some other Republican senators have been pushing for more coronavirus aid, McConnell has said repeatedly that a “pause” is needed to see how the money Congress has already spent is or is not working.

Senators left Washington, D.C., without taking up any coronavirus legislation. [Pols emphasis]

And after all of this, a brutal story in Politico Saturday about Gardner’s failure to sway the GOP-controlled Senate on a major local swing voter issue, the legal marijuana industry:

“At some point, I have to go to Cory Gardner and say, ‘Why should the industry continue to support you?’” said Marijuana Policy Project’s Don Murphy, a former Republican lawmaker in Maryland. “I know you’re trying, but you’re not getting anything.” [Pols emphasis]

Cory Gardner’s public defeat after threatening to take show-stopping action to force the Senate to write and pass another round of coronavirus economic stimulus was a shocking exposure of how little influence Gardner actually wields in the Republican-controlled Senate today. It’s surprising that Gardner took this public stand without having assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he’d be backed up. But it’s even more notable that McConnell left one of his supposedly biggest “protects” up for re-election in 2020 to twist in the wind just like McConnell did with marijuana. That’s an unmistakable sign that Gardner’s value to his own party’s leadership, to the extent is was ever more than a photo-op, is on the wane.

Although Cory Gardner quickly turned his attitude around after Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 election, from calling for Trump to pull out of the race to becoming one of Trump’s most loyal defenders through through the worst scandals of Trump’s unprecedented scandal-ridden administration, the reality of Trump’s term in office has almost certainly fulfilled the worst fears of Gardner and other “smart” Republicans who despaired in October of 2016–of both defeat and what victory with Trump would look like.

For Cory Gardner in particular, what Republicans should have hailed as a historic moment of total control in Washington in the first two years of Trump’s presidency was instead an unproductive roller-coaster of executive mismanagement and legislative apprehension at the prospect of making good on a decade of promises to the far right–a central component was repealing and replace the Affordable Care Act, which Gardner has campaigned on running for both the U.S. House and Senate.

After Democrats retook the House and began the long process of holding Trump’s bull-in-a-china-shop administration accountable, not to mention putting a stop to the agenda Republicans had largely failed to pass in the two years they had total control, Gardner has been on the defensive everywhere as his poll numbers have trended from bad to worse. And then came the pandemic, which has exposed Trump and the Republican power base that lives in symbiosis with him as so incompetent and corrupt in the face of an actual emergency that Democrats could not possibly make the present reality up.

The proof is coming on so fast and so thick that the biggest challenge is keeping up with the transcription.

The second challenge is finding the words on a continuing basis to adequately describe it.


Get More Smarter on [Squints] Memorial Day Weekend (May 22)

At long last, you can spend three straight days at home. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment


In what is increasingly beginning to resemble a trend, this was not a good week for Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). Gardner picked a needless fight with the most-watched news outlet in town, then followed up that performance with a downright embarrassing flop on a threat to prevent the U.S. Senate from going into recess without passing another coronavirus relief bill. Click here for more on Gardner’s big clumsy fold.

Gardner is claiming that he backed off of his threat to hold up the Senate recess because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised a vote on full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF); this is silly, since the LWCF pledge was already made months ago. Former Governor John Hickenlooper, Gardner’s likely opponent in the General Election, clapped back in a statement to POLITICO…followed by a pretty sad reply from Gardner himself:

“Cory Gardner made a big stink about keeping the Senate in Washington, but less than a day later, he’s given up and seems happy to do whatever Mitch McConnell says,” former Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement.

Asked about Hickenlooper’s comments, Gardner said the former governor is “under a lot of pressure” for his ethics issues.

“So I understand why he has to act out irrationally,” Gardner responded. “John Hickenlooper’s a kneejerk partisan and has no desire for Washington to succeed. His hope is Washington fails … shame on Gov. Hickenlooper.”

Gardner can’t call ANYONE a kneejerk partisan with a straight face.

As for Congress and coronavirus, NBC News has more on what might come next:

In the House, Democrats last week passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which includes state and local aid, another round of $1,200 direct payments, pay raises for front-line workers, an extension until January of the $600-per-week unemployment compensation and a raft of other measures that Republicans have derided as a “liberal wish list” unrelated to the suffering of Americans because of the pandemic.

President Donald Trump has dismissed the bill as “dead on arrival.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has replaced his suggestion to let cash-squeezed states go bankrupt with a call for a “pause” in new relief funding.

The Senate left town for a 10-day recess Thursday without taking up any coronavirus relief legislation, but while McConnell is urging patience, he hasn’t shut the door to another bill, indicating that discussions could begin next month.

McConnell has said repeatedly that he wants the next round of legislation to focus on liability protections for employers and a cut in unemployment benefits for all of those freeloading Americans without jobs.


Colorado has surpassed the 5,000 COVID-19 tests per day mark. Governor Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced a testing partnership on Thursday that will allow anyone in Colorado to get tested for the virus.

The 2019-20 school year is coming to a close. Today is the last day of “classes” for school districts in big counties such as Jefferson and Douglas. Denver Public Schools won’t wrap up until next Friday. Jefferson County Public Schools plans to release a plan for the 2020-21 school year today, as Denver7 reports:

On Friday, JeffCo Public Schools will release a draft of its reopening plan to the public. It will include a plan for in-person learning, but also some continuation of remote learning.

“We know we will have families who are afraid, or they have medical conditions, or a student is medically fragile or someone in-home has a medical condition — so we’re going to have to create remote learning options for them,” said Jason Glass, superintendent of JeffCo Public Schools.

Glass said remote learning will also remain an option in case schools has to shut down again.

As for the plan to get students back in the classroom, Glass said it will include screenings, hygiene procedures, and changes to the structure of the school day and scheduling to allow for increased social distancing. Parents, students, teachers, and administrators will be able to review the plan and provide feedback. The plan could also change throughout the summer as conditions with the novel coronavirus pandemic change.

Meanwhile, public education looks likely to take a 15% cut in the state budget because of the $3.3 billion hole created by COVID-19. As The Denver Post reports, the Joint Budget Committee did a good job limiting the education funding pain.


Governor Jared Polis is encouraging Coloradans to remain vigilant and stick to social-distancing practices. over the Memorial Day weekend. Polis says that restaurants in Colorado may begin to start opening early next week.


If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…




“Gutless Gardner” Folds, Senate Recesses Despite Threat

FRIDAY UPDATE: Cory Gardner’s backside in the breeze is how our Memorial Day Weekend kicks off:

Politico updates:

Gardner and others had clamored for immediate reform to the Paycheck Protection Program, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and a bipartisan crew of senators introduced a bill to do just that, by extending the time businesses can use those loans from eight to 16 weeks. Yet it will have to wait at least a few days, if not longer. Gardner also said he’s been assured the Paycheck Protection Program bill will be taken care of in June.

The Colorado senator said Wednesday he was willing to fight plans to head home for recess to get a whole list of his priorities enacted. And his likely opponent mocked him for not getting more.

“Cory Gardner made a big stink about keeping the Senate in Washington, but less than a day later, he’s given up and seems happy to do whatever Mitch McConnell says,” former Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement.

It’s a humiliating loss, folks. There’s no spin that can salvage it.


UPDATE: CNN’s Manu Raju reports that Cory Gardner, who started out demanding the Senate stay in Washington until another coronavirus relief bill passed, is now claiming to be content with “some things down the road” from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. A safe bet this lowlight won’t be in the next ad:

We’ll say it again: in a blue state, the only thing a Republican candidate can credibly offer is influence with fellow Republicans.

It looks like Cory Gardner hasn’t got much of that either.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

The Hill reported along with numerous national media outlets late yesterday that Sen. Cory Gardner was threatening to block the U.S. Senate from going quietly into recess until June without passage of another coronavirus relief bill–this after the House passed a comprehensive relief bill last week that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately pronounced dead on arrival:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) on Wednesday said that it is “unfathomable” that the Senate will leave for a one-week break before passing additional coronavirus legislation.

“It’s unfathomable that the Senate is set to go on recess without considering any additional #COVID19 assistance for the American people. Anyone who thinks now is the time to go on recess hasn’t been listening. Coloradans and Americans alike have sacrificed and are hurting,” Garder tweeted…

The Senate is not expected to pass additional coronavirus legislation before they leave town, with leadership in both parties telling The Hill that they did not expect a deal until at least June.

To be clear, Gardner has not come out in support of the HEROES Act passed by the House. He cited a grab-bang of funding priorities yesterday that we assume would be part of some kind of forthcoming legislation in the Senate, which we’re to believe Gardner was about to prevent the Senate from recessing in order to write, debate, and pass:

“We have an opportunity to perfect the Paycheck Protection Program, and to pass legislation to help infrastructure, to create stimulus jobs, economic opportunity, we should be doing everything we can to accomplish that,” he said. “We need to get the job done.”

Well folks, it’s Thursday afternoon in Washington, and Politico’s Burgess Everett has the update you could have predicted–the “unfathomable” has become fathomable!

We hope that every news outlet who reported on Gardner’s brave stand against Mitch McConnell yesterday updates with an equally prominent story on Gardner folding like an accordion today.


“This Isn’t a Joke. Coloradans Need Help Now,” Says Colo Dem after Gardner Laughs off Her Request to Vote Against McConnell

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gardner & McConnell NRSC election night 2018
Gardner, McConnell and others

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) jumped on conservative talk radio yesterday to laugh off a letter from Colorado House Speaker KC Becker and others requesting that Gardner pledge not to vote for Mitch McConnell as Republican leader of the U.S. Senate, if Gardner is re-elected in November.

Gardner didn’t tell KHOW radio host Dan Caplis whether he’d vote against McConnell.

Instead, Gardner said the pledge request was a show of “confidence” that Gardner will win his re-election campaign in November, because he only gets to vote for McConnell if he wins.

“I was attacked I think by the speaker of the House in Colorado, who urged me to vote against Mitch McConnell for being majority leader. And of course what that acknowledges is that we will win in November because the only way that I get to vote is if I win in November. So I appreciate their confidence.”

“This isn’t a joke, Coloradans need help now,” responded Becker in a statement to the Colorado Times Recorder. “Stop ducking the question: are you going to oppose McConnell or continue to go along with his dangerous agenda that hurts Colorado?”

Becker’s letter does not assume Gardner will win in November, but instead asks Gardner to pledge to vote against McConnell, “if re-elected.”

“When you were first elected to the Senate, it was on a pledge to be an independent voice for Coloradans,” states Wednesday’s letter to Gardner. “Now, keeping your word means making a different pledge: that if re-elected, you will not vote for Mitch McConnell as your party’s leader in the Senate.”

Gardner’s spokesman declined to comment on the letter, when asked to do so Wednesday by ColoradoPolitics reporter Ernest Luning.



Just Another Indefensible Move by Cory Gardner

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

The campaign for Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) announced on Wednesday that it had challenged potential Democratic opponents John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff to five debates this fall. But the big news in the announcement was more about who Gardner was dissing.

As 9News reports:

Incumbent Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) has declined an invitation to debate the winner of the 2020 Democratic primary on 9NEWS.

The proposed debate would have been held with Colorado State University (CSU) and seven other statewide media outlets: The Fort Collins Coloradoan, Colorado Politics, Rocky Mountain PBS, KRDO in Colorado Springs, KJCT and KKCO in Grand Junction and KOBF in the Four Corners. The event was tentatively scheduled for Oct. 13 at CSU in Fort Collins.

Gardner isn’t just giving 9News a stiff arm — he’s also ducking the largest newspaper covering his hometown area (The Ft. Collins Coloradoan).

Why would Gardner’s campaign snub 9News, the Denver NBC affiliate that regularly attracts the largest television audiences in the state? The fact that 9News has such a broad audience is one reason, but Gardner is also unhappy that reporters at 9News don’t let him barf out talking points like a certain political reporter at CBS4 Denver regularly allows. Journalists at 9News ask actual questions and expect actual answers from Gardner (examples here, here, here, and here) — and the Yuma Republican has not reacted well to this challenge — particularly when he gets cornered:

Republicans such as State GOP Communications Director Kyle Kohli were gleeful about Gardner’s snub of 9News. Amid his tweetstorm, Kohli attempted an argument that segues nicely into our next point:

Funny you should say that, because it was exactly 10 years ago that Cory Gardner’s campaign ripped into Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey for…

…wait for it…

…refusing to attend basically the exact same debate. Let’s travel back in time to September 16, 2010:

Gardner’s campaign spokeswoman, Rachel Boxer, expressed disappointment that the debate had been canceled.

“Debates are an important part of the process and help voters make informed decisions,” Boxer said. “That’s why it is a shame that this debate is being canceled because Betsy Markey has dug in her heels and won’t agree to the ground rules set forth by 9News and the Coloradoan.”

It is a very Trumpian move to single out a specific news outlet that displeases you. It is also an obvious sign of general weakness for a candidate to take such pains to avoid difficult questions.

What would “2010 Cory” say about “2020 Cory”?


Get More Smarter on Whatever Day This Is (May 20)

Hey, today is 5/20/20! There will be seven more of these in 2020. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment


President Trump is really nervous about states implementing mail balloting for the 2020 election. As The Washington Post reports:

President Trump on Wednesday threatened to “hold up” federal funds to Michigan and Nevada in response to the states’ planned use of absentee and mail-in ballots in upcoming elections as a means to mitigate risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

In morning tweets, Trump did not specify which funds he might withhold, and he has not always followed through with similar threats. But his message comes as many states grapple with how to safely proceed with elections.

Amid the pandemic, Trump has repeatedly railed against mail-in voting, claiming with scant evidence that it is subject to widespread fraud and has hurt Republicans in previous elections.

Trump took aim at Michigan a day after its secretary of state announced a plan to send absentee ballot applications to all of its 7.7 million voters for the state’s primary elections in August and general elections in November.

We noted last month that Trump was actively advising Republicans to oppose expanded voting efforts because of the belief — shared by others — that Democrats will benefit if more people vote.


President Trump is working hard to blame China over COVID-19 as the death toll in the United States surpasses 90,000.


Colorado Republicans are mad — because being mad is pretty much their 2020 strategy — about how Gov. Jared Polis is allocating some federal stimulus money. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

The legislature’s powerful Joint Budget Committee is currently drafting the state budget — one that has been hobbled by the pandemic. Republican State Sen. Bob Rankin has served on the committee for a number of years and was disappointed by the announcement.

“For the governor to announce this allocation of funds — without so much as consulting the chief budgeting body — is not only a lapse in leadership but has now eliminated the people’s voice over how their money is spent,” he said in a statement.

Now, instead of a discussion on how to divide the federal dollars, the JBC will work through the technical aspects of the CARES money, how it can or cannot be used.

GOP Congressman Scott Tipton added that the $275 million local direct assistance might not be adequate “given some of the challenges that our counties have had.” He had early concerns that dollars for state and local governments would mainly stay at the state level.

We’ll give Tipton a little credit here — at least he has signed on to legislative efforts sponsored by Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) to increase federal funding for state and local governments. Anyway, as Denver7 notes, the bulk of the money in question is being allocated to local school districts, which is tough for anybody to complain about.


 Brian Eason of The Colorado Sun updates how Colorado lawmakers are thinking when it comes to dealing with a $3.3 billion hole in the state budget. 

The Joint Budget Committee tentatively decided to eliminate the state’s $225 million annual payment to the pension next budget year, which begins July 1. Because the pension’s money is invested over time, that would add an estimated $990 million to the pension’s long-term debt if it’s approved by the full legislature.

The vote represents just the latest domino to fall as the fiscal impact of the coronavirus shutdown reverberates across Colorado’s public sector. And there may be more to come. So far, budget writers have not taken action on several other PERA changes they’re considering that could add anywhere from $500 million to $2.5 billion more to the pension’s unfunded debt, deepening a financial hole that the pension was just beginning to repair.

For more on the state budget machinations, check out this interview with Rep. Daneya Esgar, the Chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee, in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.


If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…




Gardner Campaigns on Polis’ Praise While Helping Prominent Foe Raise Money

(Duplicitous? Well, yeah, that’s how Gardner rolls. — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In the midst of an effort to claim the bipartisan high ground, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) used official (non-campaign) time to headline a fundraiser for the Colorado House Republican caucus fund, controlled by perhaps the most aggressively partisan opponent of Governor Polis in the state: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.

Like any politician hoping to be reelected this November, Gardner’s schedule is packed with a mix of official and campaign events. The greatest perk of incumbency is the ability to conduct official business in a manner that benefits one’s campaign, and Gardner is no exception, as reporters frequently note.

On Friday, May 15, the senator’s schedule included multiple campaign and official activities. On the political front, the Gardner campaign launched its first campaign ad, highlighting Gardner’s official work to secure medical supplies and featuring a clip of Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) praising his effort.

In his official capacity, Gardner joined several virtual meetings. Two were with of Colorado’s powerful business lobbies: the Colorado Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Restaurant Association. During those meetings, he gave updates on federal legislation and answered questions from business owners.

Over the lunch hour, however, Gardner spent his taxpayer-funded time headlining a virtual “donor briefing” for the Colorado House Republicans’ 527 committee, Values First Colorado (VFC).

Attending the online “Lunch & Learn” wasn’t cheap: individual tickets cost $250. The host committee featured several prominent establishment names, including former Colo Governor Bill Owens, Colorado School of Mines Vice President Ann Walker, the lobbying firm Cherry Point Strategies, and charter school advocacy group Ready Colorado.

The centrist leanings of the hosts stand in contrast to the far-right positions of VFC itself. Last year the group spent donors’ money in support of failed recall efforts against Democratic legislators as well as Polis. The legislative recalls prompted major corporate donors Xcel Energy and Noble Energy to clarify that they had intended their money to support VFC’s 2018 general election work, not after-the-fact recalls.

That didn’t stop Neville from using extreme rhetoric, though. He accused Polis and the Democrats of having an “agenda to destroy Colorado,” specifically, “to turn Colorado into another California— a leftist-run, job-killing, high-tax, freedom-less wasteland where illegal immigrants, criminals and the homeless are prioritized over law-abiding and hard-working citizens.”

Take Back Colorado logo

Last fall Patrick Neville and his brother Joe, who is paid to be the registered agent various House GOP committees via his Rearden Strategic consulting firm, split “Take Back Colorado” off from VFC, registering it as its own independent expenditure committee. But as the face of both groups, Minority Leader Neville’s over-the-top accusations can’t be separated by a filing form.

This COVID-19 pandemic is a dream come true for Polis and the Democrats.-Colorado House Republican Leader Patrick Neville

Two days prior to the VFC fundraiser with Gardner, Neville asked for donations via the Take Back Colorado. He wrote:



Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 19)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married on this day in 2018. So, that’s neat. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment


Governor Jared Polis announced on Monday that Coloradans can now receive free COVID-19 testing. From The Denver Post:

Ten weeks after the coronavirus’s presence first was confirmed in the state, any Coloradan with COVID-19 symptoms can now get tested, for free, whether or not they have health insurance, Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday.

That’s a major change. In the initial months of the pandemic, testing was limited largely to front-line health workers and people who already were hospitalized with suspected COVID-19, or who had severe enough symptoms they could secure a doctor’s order.

Since mid-March, Polis has said the state needed to be testing up to 10,000 people every day in order to execute an appropriate response — but Colorado, for many weeks, was only testing a few hundred people every day. Only recently has the state consistently been testing several thousand people per day, with its daily peak of about 4,500 reached last week.

That it took the state so long to reach this testing capacity was a point of great frustration for the governor, who previously described himself as “so disappointed” in the country’s meager testing infrastructure.

If you feel like you have any coronavirus symptoms —  including a dry cough, shortness of breath or loss of a sense of smell — then you should get tested ASAP. Click here to locate a testing site near you.


 Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order outlining spending for federal stimulus funding related to the coronavirus outbreak — the bulk of which is going to local school districts. Republicans in the state Senate are very sad that Polis didn’t ask for their advice, or something.


Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) can’t find the words to even come close to criticizing President Trump, and it’s killing his re-election hopes.

Here’s another bad sign for Gardner: He’s being used as a measuring stick for Senate Republican hopefuls in 2020:


President Trump told reporters on Monday that he has been taking a potentially-deadly medication for the last week or so in order to combat a virus that he doesn’t even have. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said that he is not taking hydroxychloroquine.


If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…




Gardner’s Refusal To Call Out Trump’s Lunacy Is Wrecking Him

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

CNN’s Manu Raju reports today on the growing crisis for vulnerable Republican incumbent Senators like Cory Gardner of Colorado as President Donald Trump’s dangerous incompetence during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic threatens to further reduce their chances of their careers surviving the November elections. On the latest looney development from the White House, Trump’s announcement yesterday that he has been taking the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine as a “preventative” measure despite a lack of evidence that the drug is effective or even safe, CNN tried to get a reaction out of Gardner.

This is what they got:

Asked if Trump should be giving medical advice, Sen. Cory Gardner said: “I’m going to continue to work with the governor of Colorado and make sure Coloradans have what they need to get through this together, focusing on individual relief, focus on the economy, focusing on the health emergency, that’s what I am 100% focused on.”

Gardner, up for reelection in a swing state, pointed to his work with Democratic Gov. Jared Polis when asked if he believes Trump’s done a good job in managing the crisis.

“There’s going to be everybody asking that question,” Gardner told CNN. [Pols emphasis] “But what we have to do is do better and better every minute, and that’s similar to what the governor of Colorado said yesterday.”

The reason everybody is “asking that question,” that is the question of whether President Trump should be giving out medical advice that directly contradicts the recommendations of his own public health authorities, is because it is arguably the most important question in American politics today. Gardner responds like he’s talking about an offensive radio host instead of the President of the United States. This is the man Gardner has endorsed for re-election in 2020, and that means Gardner must answer for the outrageous and dangerous misinformation that flows out of Trump’s mouth on a daily basis.

The failure of Gardner’s strategy for managing Trump is evident in every poll that shows Gardner even less popular than the President in Colorado. After years of giving answers to questions about Trump that everyone can see are intelligence-insulting evasions, failing either to fully stand behind or condemn the President’s innumerable controversies, Gardner’s credibility has been irreparably damaged on both the left and with the Republican base. In the absence of clear statements in response to news events that dominate the headlines, Gardner’s evasion combines with the image of Trump and Gardner hugging it out in Colorado Springs last February to tell voters all they need to know.

The reason Gardner isn’t changing course is simple: he’s out of options. If Gardner turns on the President after Trump declared Gardner with him “100%,” Gardner loses the GOP base and guarantees his double-digit defeat in November. Staying loyal through the election is now the only viable political choice that Gardner has, no matter how difficult Trump makes it.

And Trump is far from done. For Cory Gardner, November is both right around the corner and an eternity away.


Get More Smarter on Monday (May 18)

Happy “International Museum Day.” Please celebrate without actually going to a museum. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:


A new edition of The Rocky Mountaineer — a polling and messaging project of Global Strategy Group and ProgressNow Colorado — is now available. From a press release:

President Trump’s approval rating has slid and he trails Joe Biden by double digits while he gets poor marks for his COVID response. Governor Jared Polis, on the other hand, has seen his ratings surge as voters reward his steady response to the crisis.

Finally, Colorado voters strongly support changing TABOR to allow higher taxes on the wealthy to close the state’s budget gap, and give high favorability marks to legislative and congressional Democrats while Trump drags down Republicans up and down the ticket heading into the summer.

Biden leads Trump in Colorado by 13 points, which is not as bad as Trump’s numbers in two recent polls but still not good news for the GOP. We broke down the horrible numbers for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) in a separate post. Gardner’s numbers have been consistently brutal for several years now, and they keep trending downward.

On the Democratic Primary side, the race for the U.S. Senate nomination between former Gov. John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff is not looking good for the latter:

As The Washington Post reports, a $500 billion fund created for the Treasury department to assist American businesses isn’t doing much of anything.


New polling numbers from Gallup show that Congress is rated better by Americans than it has been in more than 10 years. As it turns out, Americans actually like when Congress does its job. This should be a bit of a wakeup call for the likes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is trying to slow-walk any further legislation through the end of the year.


It’s fun to pretend that everything is a conspiracy, but Colorado’s decision to change the way it reports COVID-19 deaths does NOT mean that the state was exaggerating earlier numbers. From The Denver Post:

How COVID-19 deaths are counted has become politically divisive, with critics claiming the numbers are inflated and medical experts saying deaths may actually be undercounted. Still, the number of deaths is a crucial data point that informs public understanding of the pandemic’s severity and health officials’ response to the crisis.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is now clarifying that its death tally includes the total number of fatalities among people who had COVID-19, including those deaths in which the respiratory disease was not the cause of death listed on the death certificate.

By the agency’s count, there were 1,150 people who had died with COVID-19 in their systems as of Thursday.


The New York Times has more on the firing of yet another inspector general late Friday:

The State Department inspector general fired by President Trump on Friday was investigating whether the administration had unlawfully declared an “emergency” last year to allow the resumption of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their war in Yemen, according to a Democratic member of Congress who asked for the inquiry.

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, said that investigation might have been “another reason” for the firing of the inspector general, Steve A. Linick. The White House announced the firing Friday night, and officials said the recommendation to remove Mr. Linick had come from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Mr. Linick’s office, which has hundreds of employees assigned to look into fraud and waste at the State Department, was also examining the potential misuse by Mr. Pompeo of a political appointee to do personal errands for him and his wife, Susan Pompeo.


If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…




Even More Drain-Circling Poll Numbers For Cory Gardner

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reported Saturday, a new survey of Colorado voters shows solidifying trendlines indicated by previous polls–high marks for Gov. Jared Polis, relatively favorable opinion of the Democratic majority in the Colorado legislature ahead of next week’s “grand reopening,” and positively brutal numbers for Sen. Cory Gardner and President Donald Trump:

“This isn’t 2014, when Cory Gardner was a relative blank slate with the national winds at his back,” said Andrew Baumann, a Denver-based pollster with Global Strategy Group, a Democratic firm. “Colorado voters now clearly understand that Gardner has put his loyalty to Trump ahead of Coloradans, which has left him well-defined in a very negative way — and with a deeply unpopular albatross hanging around his neck.”

Baumann and Global Strategy Group surveyed 800 registered voters in Colorado online between May 7 and 11. They found 37% of voters approve of the job Gardner is doing, which is lower than the 41% of Colorado voters who approve of the job Trump is doing. Thirty percent approved of Gardner’s work on coronavirus response.

There’s a lot of data to unpack in the latest issue of the Rocky Mountaineer, and if that’s not enough you can further digest the details here. Highlights include a declining approval rating for Donald Trump, a double-digit lead for Joe Biden, John Hickenlooper’s name ID owning the Democratic Senate primary, and great news for Democrats in the Colorado General Assembly looking to expand their majority even beyond 2018’s historic wins. As for Cory Gardner, his sub-Trump approval rating is a continuing sign that he is weak on both flanks–and his base support is heavily dependent on his continued fealty to Trump, even though Gardner’s servility to Trump seals his doom with many more voters.

That all looks right to us, folks.


Gee Thanks, Cory: How Gardner’s “Side Deals” Could Backfire

UPDATE: Colorado Democrats give this ad two thumbs down:

“Senator Gardner’s deceptive ads won’t change the fact that he’s stood by President Trump 100 percent of the time as they’ve played political games with lifesaving medical supplies and tried to yank health care coverage away from Coloradans when we need it most,” said Colorado Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll. “Coloradans can see through his Washington spin and know that Senator Gardner is just another politician selling out Colorado for Donald Trump.”


Down by deepening double digits in every poll, America’s Most Vulnerable Senator™ Cory Gardner’s re-election campaign is nonetheless very excited to bring Coloradans a new TV spot, which highlights the deals Gardner has made to obtain personal protective equipment for Colorado during the COVID-19 pandemic:

At first glance, there’s nothing outrageously amiss with this positively themed ad, although the contention that the massive donations of protective equipment from nations like Taiwan and South Korea of which Colorado is receiving just a fraction are wholly the result of Sen. Cory Gardner’s “relationships” with officials in those nations is questionable. But even with reasonable doubt on that question, much like when Gardner managed to obtain 100 ventilators via a “personal request” after an order by the state for 500 ventilators was co-opted by the feds, there’s little point in being ungrateful for what we manage to get regardless of how we get it.

For Gardner, the problem here is more nuanced.

For anyone who has followed the story of Colorado’s struggles to obtain supplies of all kinds needed to respond to the pandemic from ventilators to face masks, the federal government’s failure to provide these supplies, while turning states’ attempts to obtain supplies ourselves like Donald Trump told us to into a fraught game of literal secrecy and smuggling, is very plainly the overarching problem. No one can complain that Gardner is working his “connections” overseas to obtain needed equipment for Colorado via side deals, but without an acknowledgement from Gardner of the larger failure at the federal level he is trying to mitigate–and that’s if you believe Cory Gardner is the sole motivator for the generosity of these donor nations–what he’s really doing is helping cover up Trump’s failures.

This isn’t hard to understand. The forgetful news cycle may not account every time for this unchanging reality, but the polls showing Trump underwater and Cory Gardner sliding into oblivion as the COVID-19 crisis grinds on tell us Colorado voters get it.


HEROES Act Signals End of “COVID Kumbaya”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

AP reports today that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will oppose the HEROES Act, the latest round of coronavirus relief legislation set to pass the U.S. House tomorrow:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday branded House Democrats’ $3 trillion economic relief bill a “totally unserious effort” to address the coronavirus pandemic, underscoring the deep election-year gulch over what Congress’ next response to the crisis should be…

Provisions he singled out for criticism included a rollback of GOP-passed tax increases on residents of states with high taxes, language making it easier for people to vote by mail and what he called “the cherry on top” – provisions helping legal marijuana businesses. [Pols emphasis]

In case you’re wondering, as the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Michael Karlik reports, the “unserious” proposal to help legal marijuana businesses as part of the latest coronavirus relief bill is the product of Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado:

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s bill to give marijuana businesses access to the banking system will be included in the House version of “CARES 2.0,” a new coronavirus relief proposal.

“I just learned the#SAFEBankingAct is included in the CARES 2.0 package. I have been pushing for this because the#COVID19 crisis has only exacerbated the risk posed to cannabis businesses & their employees & they need relief just like any other legitimate business,” Perlmutter wrote on Twitter.

Help for marijuana businesses is just one tiny sliver of the new relief bill proposed by Democrats in the U.S. House, but it’s not surprising to see McConnell seizing on this small provision to disparage the entire effort–even though that could politically undercut vulnerable Republican incumbent and putative ally of the marijuana industry, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.

Opposition to another round of economic stimulus in general and further checks to individual Americans in particular last week among a number of GOP U.S. Senators presaged a closing of ranks by Republicans against the new relief bill introduced by House Democrats this week. In addition to checks for individuals, the funding for state and local governments in this bill to offset massive revenue declines like Colorado’s looming $3 billion shortfall is desperately needed in red states and blue states alike. No less needed are the bill’s funds for COVID-19 testing, extending unemployment benefits, and housing assistance.

After weeks of commendable bipartisan cooperation on what’s proven to be the biggest budgetary response by the federal government to any crisis since the Second World War, demonstrating the ability of the nation to mobilize resources to confront a massive challenge, this breakdown of relations well before the long-term need is met could have the effect of greatly worsening and prolonging the economic pain from the COVID-19 pandemic. The first and most important step in responding to this emergency has been to save lives–but without the political will to continue the aid needed to keep people and communities whole until the crisis has really abated, the road to recovery is going to be laden with unnecessary hardship.

There will be accountability in November, but we’d trade all the political advantage this move gives Democrats for Americans to not suffer the unnecessary hardship.


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 13)

It was two months ago today that President Trump declared a national emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic (on Friday the 13th, no less). Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:


House Democrats are pushing for a massive new coronavirus relief bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell flatly opposes. On Wednesday, Democrats found a new ally in Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who warned in no uncertain terms that more stimulus funding is a necessity for the American economy. From The Washington Post:

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave a dire warning Wednesday that the U.S. economy could become stuck in a painful multi-year recession if Congress and the White House do not approve more aid to address the coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout. [Pols emphasis]

“Additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery,” Powell said in a videoconference with the Peterson Institute for International Economics…

…The Fed chair urged Congress to remember that the longer people remain out of work, the deeper the scarring becomes on the U.S. economy. There is a domino effect where consumers lose jobs and sharply cut spending, and that can cause more businesses to close, hurting more jobs. Companies that go out of business also stop paying their suppliers, which can drag down other firms.

Central banks across the country are also encouraging Congress to hurry up and pass another big relief bill, as are bipartisan leaders of the National Governors Association.

Governor Jared Polis is meeting personally with President Trump at the White House today to lobby for more relief for state and local governments. Polis is scheduled to take questions from the media following his afternoon meeting.


Forecasts for Colorado’s state budget are worse than anticipated, as The Denver Post reports:

At least a tenth of Colorado’s state budget for next year must be cut, lawmakers were advised Tuesday morning.

For weeks, economists and lawmakers have been preparing for a hard hit, but now they have a specific number to work with: The total shortfall for this year and the fiscal year that begins July 1 is about $3.3 billion — including just shy of a $900 million reduction for 2019-20 — according to nonpartisan legislative analysts.

“Colorado is facing what may be the most dire budget situation in our state’s history, but I know that we will join together and meet this challenge,” said state Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, chair of the bipartisan Joint Budget Committee.

The projected loss will eat about 10% of the overall state budget and 25% of the state’s general fund, which covers core services such as education and transportation. The governor’s budget director, Lauren Larson, described this decline in revenue as “precipitous and alarming.”

As we’ve mentioned before, you can blame the coronavirus here so long as you spend equal time complaining about TABOR.

Colorado’s budgetary problems are about to get even worse, as 9News reports:

The pandemic has already slowed Colorado’s economy to a crawl. But now the state’s complicated tax laws are promising to cut residential property taxes by 18% according to a new forecast presented to the Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday. That would be one of the biggest drops in state history.

While it may be welcome news to homeowners, the projection shows the cuts could cost school districts $491 million and county governments, which fund services including libraries and fire departments with that tax revenue, more than $200 million when the new tax rates are set in 2022.

You can blame The Gallagher Amendment for this one.


► Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, gave a somber warning about re-opening the country too soon during his Senate testimony on Tuesday.


At least he’s not your law-breaking state party chair…well, unless you are a Republican in Colorado.


Arguments in Colorado’s “faithless electors” case are being by the U.S. Supreme Court today.


If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…




Cory Gardner’s Fail Saved: JBS Workers Finally Get Tested

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

FOX 31’s “Not That” Rob Low updates from Greeley on the plight of workers at the JBS beef backing plant, which was closed temporarily in April after a number of employees died from COVID-19 infections. This the plant that has made nationwide headlines in recent weeks after workers were promised proper testing to isolate positive cases and prevent spread on the plant’s crowded meatpacking lines, before the plant reopened without those tests being performed over the angry protests of the union representing JBS workers.

But thanks to the state of Colorado, as of May 11 it appears that JBS’s thousands of workers in Greeley will finally all be tested, weeks after the plant reopened on April 24:

The meat packing plant home to the largest coronavirus outbreak in Weld County began testing all its workers for the virus Monday morning.

As of Monday, 280 JBS employees had tested positive for COVID-19. Seven had died.

Previously, JBS only provided free testing to workers who showed symptoms of COVID-19…

“There are a large number of workers that are asymptomatic and they may be carrying the virus and they can spread that throughout the plant and the community, so we need daily testing for all of those workers,” said Kim Cordova, president of the UFCW/Local 7 union.

But even with this positive development, there’s still a a great deal of uncertainty:

Due to limited test availability and capacity, JBS said team members cannot get tested more than once using the drive-thru option.

Sen. Cory Gardner, who after Vice President Mike Pence promised immediate assistance took credit for obtaining 5,000 COVID-19 tests specifically for the Greeley JBS plant which as it turns out were not administered before the plant reopened, hasn’t updated his script on the matter since the scandal over the plant’s lethal outbreak and unsafe reopening became national news. Keep in mind what he said about testing at this plant back on April 27:

We were working with Dr. Birx to try to find a guidance and a solution to keep that plan from closing and then what it would mean. So the vice president, we worked together. We got 5,000 tests for that plant, and they’re up and running again as of this past Friday. [Pols emphasis]

It’s a good thing of course that the state is finally ensuring over two weeks after Gardner made these claims that all the workers at this plant are actually being tested for COVID-19, but this should have been done weeks ago–before the plant was ever allowed to reopen. At this point, there’s no undoing that error. All we can do is try, while making sure “essential” meat continues to flow to American consumers, to keep these workers as safe as any other essential worker in America going forward.

For Gardner, who would have us hayseeds back home in Colorado believe he’s responsible for the entire global foreign aid programs of Taiwan and South Korea, this means making sure these promises are actually kept before they go into campaign literature.


Ignoring Critics, Cory Gardner Again Claims Credit for Getting Ventilators for Colo

(Fact check: “pants on fire,” basically – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner continues to claim credit for obtaining 100 ventilators for Colorado, despite the federal government having blocked a state deal for 500 machines.

In an online interview with KNUS 710AM radio host Steffan Tubbs, Gardner said he has worked very closely with Governor Polis to obtain medical supplies, including ventilators.

“I’ve worked very closely with the governor,” said Gardner. “When the governor said we needed more tests, we went out and fought and got more tests for Colorado. When the governor said we needed more ventilators, I went out and fought and got more ventilators for the state of Colorado. When the governor said we needed more masks for Colorado, I went out and fought and got more masks, including just getting another hundred thousand from Taiwan this past week.”

As reported by numerous state and national news outlets, the Federal Emergency Management Agency canceled Colorado’s deal with a medical supplier for 500 ventilators. President Trump later tweeted that the federal government would send Colorado 100 ventilators “at the request of Senator Gardner.” Trump’s statement, though praised by Gardner himself was widely criticized as the worst form of political pandering. The Denver Post editorialized that “Trump is playing a disgusting political game with our lives.”

As he has in other recent interviews, Gardner also refused to criticize President Trump for his handling of the pandemic.

Read the full transcript of Tubbs’ question and Gardner’s answer below:

KNUS Host Steffan Tubbs: How do you think Governor Polis and the president have led this pandemic? 

Sen. Cory Gardner: Look, I get asked all the time to provide a grade on this or that or to provide the score. It’s important that we always do better and better. I’ve worked very closely with the governor when the governor said we needed more tests. We went out and got more tests for Colorado. When the governor said we needed more ventilators, I went out and bought and got more ventilators for the state of Colorado where the governor said we needed more masks for Colorado. I went out and got more masks –including just getting another 100,000 from Taiwan this past week– two million in the United States from Taiwan.


Cory Gardner Made His Bed. Now It’s Burning

President Donald Trump, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

In today’s Washington Post analysis of the U.S. Senate playing field by veteran reporters Seung Min Kim and Mike DeBonis, a newsworthy development for all of us following vulnerable incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado’s race to survive against the odds–the first public discussion we’ve seen or heard of the possibility that Gardner has already been “written off” by national Republican strategists:

Republicans are increasingly nervous they could lose control of the Senate this fall as a potent combination of a cratering economy, President Trump’s handling of the pandemic and rising enthusiasm among Democratic voters dims their electoral prospects…

The emerging consensus of several Republican strategists is that GOP incumbents should be able to hang on in states Trump won in 2016 if the president can hang onto those states himself. That list includes North Carolina, Arizona and Iowa, which Democrats are heavily targeting this cycle.

The flip side for Republicans is that states Trump lost in 2016 — such as Colorado and Maine — could be out of reach. Many GOP strategists have already written off Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), [Pols emphasis] barring a major shift, and some have doubts that Collins will be able to continue her trend of faring far better in elections than Republican presidential candidates she has shared the ballot with.

To be clear, no one outside a relatively compact national GOP decisionmaking loop will know if Gardner has been written off as a certain loss until that becomes evident in visible ways–ad buys that don’t materialize, fundraising drying up, and so forth. But with Gardner’s poll numbers already trending downward from bad into true blowout territory, and a generally bleak outlook for Senate Republicans under the aggregate weight of Trump’s weakness and the pandemic’s devastation, Gardner really does seem to be on the verge of being, as they say when they make the hard calls, “triaged out.”

AP’s weekend look at the Senate race also cites Sen. Gardner of Colorado as singular example of vulnerability among Republican U.S. Senators up in 2020:

The president in office during the onset of Great Depression, Herbert Hoover, was routed in his 1932 reelection bid. Voters also cast out other recent incumbents who presided over sluggish economies, including Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, while Barack Obama was elected in 2008 after Republicans took the brunt of the blame for the collapse of the financial markets that fall.

If that happens again, the GOP isn’t just worried about keeping the White House. Voters who reject Trump may also turn against Republican candidates for Congress. That’s especially concerning for Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, [Pols emphasis] which has been trending Democratic in recent years, and could cause problems for GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tills of North Carolina and Martha McSally in Arizona, where close presidential races are expected.

The circumstances today are exactly not the same as those leading up to the 1932 elections, which took place after several years of economic disaster and ineffective political response by a Republican administration leading to an historic period of Democratic dominance in Congress and the White House. The shock of the massive job losses we’ve seen in the last two months has not been fully absorbed by the public, and the consequences in human terms are not yet apparent. It’s clear from polling that the Republican campaign especially in Colorado to blame Democrats for the economic pain from necessary measures to combat the pandemic has failed, and the story of gross incompetence by Republicans from the White House down in the face of the greatest challenge of our lifetimes so far has solidified as the publicly accepted narrative of events.

In October of 2016, Cory Gardner called for Donald Trump to pull out of the presidential race. Trump didn’t, unexpectedly won, and Gardner transformed himself from “Never Trumper” to Trump’s most loyal defender and ally without ever once explaining his change of heart. Gardner kept his game face through nearly every one of Trump’s innumerable gaffes, scandalously hateful non-gaffes, two damning foreign policy investigations, and finally an impeachment trial. As the COVID-19 pandemic loomed in late February, Gardner and Trump held a joint rally in front of thousands of packed-in supporters in Colorado Springs–right before Trump and Gardner personally worked together to turn the federal government’s response to the pandemic into a spectacle of logistical chaos and political cronyism.

Even at a moment as unprecedented as this, there are fundamentals that apply as long as the American political system as we know it exists. If there is anyone in this country–maybe on this planet–who has earned his fate as a political dead man walking in 2020, it’s Sen. Cory Gardner. This reality, apparent locally for some time, is now evident to everyone.


Senate Republicans Balk At More Stimulus Checks

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The Hill reports today, and for those of us who burned through that $1,200 of stimulus money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act just beginning to catch up from the personal economic devastation of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s bad news:

Senate Republicans are pouring cold water on including another round of stimulus checks in the next coronavirus relief bill.

The record $2.2 trillion pandemic bill signed into law March 27 mandated one-time payments of $1,200 for people making up to $75,000 a year, but most of the checks have already been distributed.

The White House and Democrats are signaling support for doing at least one more round of checks. GOP senators, however, say they aren’t sold yet on the need for a second round, and several said they are strongly opposed to the idea.

Democrats have proposed sending $2,000 checks to every household monthly until the economy is safely up and running again, and this story correctly points out that the original–maybe only now–round of stimulus checks to individual taxpayers in April was half of what Democrats originally wanted. But like Republican Sen. John Kennedy says, “people in hell want ice water too.” Sen. Lindsey Graham says getting your ass back to work is the best stimulus, and Sen. Ron Johnson says relax, “this isn’t your classic recession.”

Sen. Johnson is right, of course, but not in the way he thinks. According to the 14.7% unemployment rate announced today for the month of April, this is a much more severe economic crisis than anyone in the workforce today has ever experienced.

What happens next? It depends in large part on how “swing” Senators like Cory Gardner line up on the next stimulus bill. Gardner has been taking credit for the stimulus dollars flowing into Colorado so greedily he sent a release celebrating items just a few days before he had bashed as “despicable” examples of tripped Democrats holding up the works. Gardner has the choice of supporting another round of direct stimulus to individuals as loudly as he’s supported the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses, going along with his fellow Republican Senators in closing the wallet on the “takers,” or trailing the herd in silence until the last possible moment.

Without some timely and determined tag teaming, we already know which it will be.


Gardner Praises COVID-Tainted Meatpacking Plant, Without Acknowledging It Broke Promise to Test Workers

(If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance… – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

During an online discussion hosted by a conservative talk radio station yesterday, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) refused to acknowledge that the JBS meat-processing plant brazenly broke its promise to test all employees before they went back to work. Seven JBS employees have now died of COVID-19.

As Gardner was giving a rambling response to KNUS radio host Steffan Tubbs’ initial inquiry about whether Gardner had received “false promises” from JBS management, Tubbs interrupted Gardner to ask simply if Gardner thought the JBS plant had been “up front and honest.”

“They shut the plant down. They worked on it,” Gardner replied. “In terms of sanitizing it, they need to continue to do that. Every employee who wants a test can get a test. It’s important that they continue to do that.”

Gardner went on to say: “It’s important that they live up to their word. It’s important that they live up to the promises that they have made to employees. Employee safety is paramount.”

Multiple news outlets have reported that JBS promised to test all employees, but has since decided not to do so.

Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) said the state has told JBS that free tests are available, Colorado Public Radio (CPR) reported yesterday:

“To be clear, if JBS is willing to test all employees, we would be happy to work with them on making sure they have the supplies to do that,” CPR reported Polis as saying. “We can’t just go on their premises and test people, that’s why we did it a mile away.”

CPR reported:

Polis said JBS officials backed away from an initial plan to test all employees and decided to just close for two weeks instead. It reopened in late April. Polis said state officials would work “around” JBS if they need to in order to make sure all employees get tested. “These are folks who live and work in Greeley, and we’re just as worried about their neighbors, their friends, store owners who serve them, and many others, in addition to those who work directly at the JBS plant,” Polis said.

In a virtual meeting with Republican activists last week, Gardner boasted that he and Vice President Mike Pence had procured 5,000 COVID-19 tests for workers at the JBS plant. But the workers had not been tested.

In response to Tubbs’ ititial question about the JBS plant last night, Gardner said that it was his understanding that any employee at JBS who wanted a test could get a test, without acknowledging that the optional-testing offer provided by the state only exists because of the company’s broken promise to test all of its employees.

“We need to continue to protect or workforce, not just at JBS but at businesses across the state, across the country that are open, that have remained open, those essential businesses that are there every day. They are the real heroes,” Gardner told Tubbs. “Think about it. Yes, we absolutely have to do great things for our health care workers, our EMTs, our first responders. They have been absolutely heroic. But you’ve also got people like the grocery store workers, like the people working at our meat-processing facilities, our farmers and ranchers, who are working every day to make sure that we have this food-supply system that works and puts food on our tables. Thanks to them as well, each and every one. Thanks to the people working at convenience stores, our gas stations. These are people who have done it every day. We have to make sure that they are protected.”


Conservative Radio Host Says Not to Expect ‘Breaking News’ from His ‘Town Hall’ with Cory Gardner

(Hater radio lovefest! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In advance of his radio station’s online discussion with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), KNUS host Steffan Tubbs warned “not to expect breaking news” from his “virtual town hall” with Gardner tonight at 7 p.m.

Still, Tubbs said he’d ask “what I perceive to be tough questions” of Gardner.

Those attending the online event are encouraged to submit questions, but Tubbs didn’t know how he’d choose which questions to ask Gardner.

“I don’t know, Pete, to be honest with you, the process of what questions are going to be asked,” Tubbs told KNUS’ Peter Boyles this morning.

Tubbs said prior to the event on air that he would not be  working with Gardner’s staff on deciding which questions would be asked.

In an indication that his questions won’t cause problems for Gardner, Tubbs said on air not to expect “breaking news” from the event.

In fact, Tubbs apparently criticized 9News anchor Kyle Clark, who’s known to grill Gardner and other politicians, for what Tubbs apparently sees as Clark’s unfair questioning of Gardner.

“I have noticed of late the little digs by a certain anchor on Channel 9. I don’t get it,” said Tubbs on air, almost certainly referring to Clark who’s the object of frequent criticism on KNUS.



Cory Gardner is in Worse Trouble Than You Thought

Late yesterday a new poll on the Colorado Senate race from Montana State University and The University of Denver came out with some pretty stunning numbers. From Forbes:

In a sign of Colorado’s increasingly Democratic lean, a poll released Tuesday showed former Gov. John Hickenlooper with a commanding lead over Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in the U.S. Senate race, while former Vice President Joe Biden overwhelmingly leads President Donald Trump as well.

The poll, released by Montana State University on Tuesday, has Hickenlooper leading Gardner by 17 points, 48% to 31%, in a race that will be pivotal in determining control of the Senate.

In the presidential race, Biden leads Trump by 18 points, 53% to 35%, adding to a spate of recent swing state polls showing Biden leading by mid-to-high single digit margins.

If you are a supporter of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), this is the point where you start railing on the MSU/DU poll for a bad methodology, shaky margin of error, using trained monkeys to conduct phone surveys, blah, blah, blah. This argument might even get you somewhere, if not for another completely different poll, with a completely different methodology, showing pretty much the same deficit for Gardner.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper leads U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner by 18 percentage points in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, according to a poll from Colorado firms released Wednesday.

The Keating-Onsight-Melanson poll of likely voters, made available in advance of its release to Colorado Politics, shows Hickenlooper with 54% support to Gardner’s 36% in a hypothetical head-to-head contest, with 9% undecided and 1% picking another candidate.

The Democratic firms’ last survey, in October, found Hickenlooper with an 11 percentage point advantage over Gardner, 53% to 42%.


This is the way down, Senator!

That’s two different polls, released on two separate days, showing former Gov. John Hickenlooper — the frontrunner for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination — with a 17-18 point lead over the incumbent Republican Senator, Cory Gardner. Again, we’re sure that you could dig into the methodology of each poll and come up with some complaints, but two polls with similar numbers? That’s not a coincidence.

Even if both polls are wrong, Hickenlooper is almost certainly ahead of Gardner by double digits. This also makes sense if you consider that the last top-ticket race in Colorado, for Governor in 2018, resulted in an 11-point win by Democrat Jared Polis over Republican Walker Stapleton.

There are also plenty of reasons to believe that these new polling numbers for Gardner are not outliers. Gardner’s approval ratings have been consistently in the toilet for more than three years now. — and as we’ve pointed out on more than one occasion, Gardner doesn’t even poll well among Republican voters. Hickenlooper, meanwhile, is a popular and well-known former two-term Governor of Colorado.

These numbers also track with top-of-ticket results; both new polls show Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden leading President Trump by an 18-20 point margin in Colorado. Biden probably isn’t going to beat Trump in Colorado by 20 points, but a double-digit margin of victory would not be a surprise (Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 5 points in Colorado in 2016; Barack Obama carried the state by nearly 9 points in 2008).

Cory Gardner isn’t just in trouble of losing the 2020 U.S. Senate race…he faces a very real risk that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) could soon drop Colorado off the map entirely. Control of the U.S. Senate is very much in play in 2020, and with states such as Arizona and Maine moving out of reach for Republicans, the NRSC will have to make some decisions about where to best expend resources in hopes of holding onto states like Montana or North Carolina.

Hickenlooper is now handily beating Gardner in fundraising and in public polling. The trajectory of the 2020 Senate race is pretty clear.


Extorter-In-Chief: Trump Names His Price For Coronavirus Aid

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Another jaw-dropper of a Tweet from the Tweeter-in-chief Donald Trump this afternoon, laying out a series of apparent demands for desperately needed aid to state governments whose revenues have nosedived during the COVID-19 pandemic: political chestnuts like punishing so-called “sanctuary cities” including Denver, eliminating (or we assume at least cutting) a variety of federal taxes, and the increasingly everpresent demand for liability protections for businesses who force their workers back on the job unsafely. Trump specifically cites “restaurants and ent[ertainment]” as recipients of those protections, which are of course close to Trump’s hospitality industry heart.

Although Trump claimed separately yesterday that the “poorly run” states he’s referring to are blue states, red state strongholds are seeing huge revenue declines along with Colorado and just about everywhere else. NBC News reports today:

COVID-19 has led to dramatic decreases in revenue for state governments across the country — regardless of which party has its hand on the wheel. While many states are still crunching their numbers ahead of the next fiscal year, which begins in the summer for most, a handful of GOP-led states already have made clear the budget woes that face them…

Exacerbated by the oil market collapse, Oklahoma budget officials told NBC News they’re projecting a shortfall of $1.3 billion. In Alaska, similar economic conditions, coupled with prior woes, have led budget officials to project total state revenue this year will be slashed nearly in half from $11.2 billion to $6.6 billion. The amount of revenue won’t recover to 2019 levels for at least the next decade, that projection shows.

In Arkansas, revenue forecasts now project a shortfall of more than $530 million, while in Wyoming, revenue shortfall projections range from $555 million to $2.8 billion through the end of fiscal year 2022. And in West Virginia, state revenue officials forecast a possible $500 million deficit as a result of the pandemic. A Moody’s Analytics report concluded the state’s financial picture could be worse, with a shortfall of up to $1.9 billion.

Trump’s false assignment of blame to “blue states” for a revenue plunge that has ravaged states of all ideological persuasions is typical mindless Trump verbal diarrhea and fairly easily disregarded. But demanding huge future revenue reductions in exchange for money desperately needed today is about as senseless, even predatory a fiscal policy as we can possibly imagine.

In a state facing our own multibillion-dollar shortfall, it feels a lot like extortion.


So, You STILL Want to Kill Obamacare?

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

Three years ago today, Republicans in the House of Representatives passed legislation that was intended to destroy the Obama-era Affordable Care Act (ACA).

All of the cool Republican kids voiced support for destroying the ACA in 2016, and they very nearly succeeded in doing just that in 2017 before the late Sen. John McCain gave his famous “thumbs down” vote in the U.S. Senate. President Trump still tried to claim victory in killing the ACA, saying in late 2017, “I shouldn’t say this, but we essentially repealed Obamacare.” Republicans should be thankful that they didn’t succeed in literally repealing the ACA, and not just because they could never figure out how to write a functional repeal-and-replace bill.

An issue that was once a fun political piñata for the GOP took a different turn once a federal judge in Texas struck down Obamacare, setting up a penultimate fight in the U.S. Supreme Court that probably won’t be decided before the 2020 election. Republicans are lucky for the delay; as The Associated Press reports, the coronavirus pandemic would be much more catastrophic for Americans if not for the ACA:

COVID-19 could have stamped a person “uninsurable” if not for the Affordable Care Act. The ban on insurers using preexisting conditions to deny coverage is a key part of the Obama-era law that the Trump administration still seeks to overturn.

Without the law, people who recovered from COVID-19 and tried to purchase an individual health insurance policy could be turned down, charged higher premiums or have follow-up care excluded from coverage. Those considered vulnerable because of conditions such as respiratory problems or early-stage diabetes would have run into a wall of insurer suspicion…[Pols emphasis]

…From nearly 12 million people to 35 million could lose their workplace coverage due to layoffs in the coronavirus shutdown, according to an estimate by the consulting firm Health Management Associates. They have more options because of the Obama-era law.

Let’s stop here and reiterate this point: Imagine how different things might be today if testing positive for COVID-19 would have rendered you uninsurable. More than a few people would be resisting treatment and testing for as long as possible, thus silently spreading the coronavirus deeper into our communities.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will receive arguments on a separate lawsuit related to the ACA — a legal challenge to a requirement compelling insurance plans to provide coverage for contraceptive services. It will serve as another reminder that Republicans such as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) are still very much in favor of repealing the ACA. Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gardner has taken time to publicly affirm his support for destroying Obamacare.

As a group of political scientists wrote for The Washington Post last week, Republicans who oppose Obamacare — including Gardner — have lately embraced some of the ACA’s main tenets:

But the coronavirus pandemic’s fast-moving destruction has pushed Republicans to rely on Barack Obama’s signature law to respond to the crisis, even taking action to strengthen it. The law, as written, requires that Americans who have recently lost jobs and insurance coverage to be permitted to enroll in its insurance marketplace, and they are doing so in swelling numbers. Meanwhile, Republicans recently backed stimulus legislation that increased federal funding for a critical part of the ACA: Medicaid for lower-income people. And Trump administration regulators have used their authority to insist that insurance plans pay for coronavirus tests as an “essential health benefit” under the ACA — a Republican target in the past.

Gardner’s 2014 Senate campaign was all about his opposition to the ACA. Four years later, health care was THE most dominant issue in an election cycle that ended with significant Democratic political gains both nationally and here in Colorado. In 2020, health care — via the coronavirus — will again be the top motivating force for voters, and Republicans are well aware of the problem this presents for them. Voters didn’t want to get rid of the ACA before the coronavirus pandemic; they sure as hell aren’t going to be enthusiastic about it now.

Back to The Associated Press we go:

Some GOP lawmakers in contested races this fall are unnerved by the prospect of Trump administration lawyers asking the Supreme Court during the coronavirus outbreak to toss out a law that provides coverage to at least 20 million Americans.

“The ACA remains the law of the land, and it is the Department of Justice’s duty to defend it,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “That is especially true during the current public health crisis our country is facing due to COVID-19.”

She is among those urging the administration not to get rid of the law but instead make broader use of it to cover uninsured people during the pandemic. Collins is considered among the most endangered incumbents as Republicans try to keep their Senate majority.

While Gardner hasn’t publicly changed his position in support of dismantling the ACA, he knows it’s not a political winner and thus is not an issue he really wants to talk about anymore. The bad news for him is that anti-ACA lawsuits and the coronavirus won’t make that possible in 2020.


Get More Smarter and May the Fourth Be With You

Happy Star Wars Day; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:


Governors around the country — including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis — are reporting that they have had to literally hide shipments of emergency medical supplies from the federal government. As Gov. Polis told Colorado Public Radio last week:

On buying more than 100,000 COVID-19 tests from South Korea, but not announcing they’d arrived:

“We kept it under wraps. We simply didn’t know if anybody would swoop in. I mean we didn’t want another state or the feds or anybody. … We don’t want to give the competition, which could mean other countries, could mean our own country, could mean other states — we don’t want to give them a heads up of what we’re doing.”

Republican governors in Massachusetts and Maryland have reported similar practices. Last week, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called out Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) for not doing more to help Colorado in this regard.

Meanwhile, as Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, the Trump administration is pushing back on claims from Governors that medical supplies have been snatched up by the federal government.


President Trump is trying to fire the acting inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services because she did her job and reported on supply shortages and testing delays.


As The Washington Post reports, President Trump is being advised on coronavirus response strategies by “experts” who don’t really know what they are talking about:

The span of 34 days between March 29, when Trump agreed to extend strict social-distancing guidelines, and this past week, when he celebrated the reopening of some states as a harbinger of economic revival, tells a story of desperation and dysfunction.

So determined was Trump to extinguish the deadly virus that he repeatedly embraced fantasy cure-alls and tuned out both the reality that the first wave has yet to significantly recede and the possibility of a potentially worse second wave in the fall.


How’s this for irony? The coronavirus appears to have killed the “public option” — at least for now. As Jesse Paul reports for The Colorado Sun:

Democrats in the Colorado legislature announced Monday that they are setting aside their contentious effort this year to pass a bill creating a public health insurance option.

The prime backers of the legislation, House Bill 1349, say the coronavirus crisis has made it impossible to ensure that all of the relevant stakeholders — hospitals, doctors and insurance companies — can be involved in the lawmaking process.

But the Democrats pushing for the measure, which is a priority of Gov. Jared Polis, say the pandemic has highlighted the need for the public option, which was set to really be a private insurance plan that’s offered through the state with strict regulations.

While COVID-19 may have illuminated the problems with our current healthcare system, the chaos of the pandemic has made it extremely difficult for the legislature to tackle bigger issues like a public option. Last week lawmakers also announced that legislation to create a paid family leave program in Colorado was also put on hold because of coronavirus.


 The Denver Post helps explain which businesses can re-open in Colorado beginning today, with an important caveat:

The relaxed measures do not apply to counties where stay-at-home restrictions have been extended until May 8: Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Gilpin and Jefferson.


If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…