Cory Gardner’s Done Holding Senate Candidates To Standards

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

A column in the Phil Anschutz-owned Washington Examiner asks surprisingly hard questions about the role of Sen. Cory Gardner’s National Republican Senatorial Committee–or, as will be apparent from Gardner’s own statements, the lack of a role–in ensuring that Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate meet minimal standards for electability, decency, and other fundamental criteria. You may recall that last year, Gardner fled from the GOP nominee in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race Roy Moore after initially supporting him, and took heavy fire from the right after Moore narrowly lost.

When it comes to West Virginia’s similarly distasteful GOP U.S. Senate candidate, Don Blankenship, Gardner is treading much more carefully:

Everyone in Washington, D.C. knows Don Blankenship is putting the Republican majority at risk. The ex-con and former coal CEO has long been a pariah in his home state. His crime? He violated federal mine safety standards, causing or contributing to the death of 29 people in the big explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine — the worst mining accident in over forty years…

Hands down, Don Blankenship is the worst candidate running in the West Virginia Republican primary, and the best opportunity for incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin to keep his seat. So, why isn’t the National Republican Senate Committee making moves to stop Blankenship before he can do more damage?

According to NRSC Chairman Cory Gardner, R-Colo., it’s because it wouldn’t matter. [Pols emphasis]

What follows is a stunningly lucid assessment from Gardner of the disconnect between the Republican Party’s elites and their radicalized base of support: a disconnect that leaves the party powerless to prevent the rise of self-immolating fringe candidates.

“What we’ve seen is that the people of West Virginia, the people of Indiana, the people of Missouri could care less who the senatorial committee is supportive of,” Gardner explained during a recent meeting of the Washington Examiner editorial board. “In fact, [an NRSC intervention] may have the opposite effect.”

…He once quipped about how Blankenship wouldn’t be allowed onto the floor of the Senate with a home arrest ankle bracelet , a comment he says in retrospect was “probably a little too flippant.” Aware that his words might do more harm than good, Gardner refuses to weigh in on a race that could control Republican control of the Senate.

With respect to Roy Moore, much like Gardner’s call in mid-October of 2016 for Donald Trump to pull out of the presidential race it was more a case of Gardner following the herd of Republican sentiment instead of proactively leading. Gardner initially supported Moore after Moore won the primary, reversing only after the damaging press reports of Moore’s relationships with young women became an unbearable controversy. In fairness Gardner chose not to go back to supporting Moore when most of the rest of the GOP did, but that earned him blame–deserved or not–from Moore’s supporters after the dust settled.

Having been burned both ways now after making the mistake of standing on principle, Gardner seems to be shutting up and shining the turds in his charge like a good soldier. As we know from the aftermath of Trump’s election, when Gardner seamlessly transformed himself from Trump critic to servile Trump toady, victory is the only thing that matters at the end of the day. If Blankenship wins, Republicans notch a win. And that means Gardner’s NRSC notches a win.

Principles, as Gardner apparently learned from the Roy Moore debacle, are for losers.

One Community Comment, Facebook Comments

  1. JohnInDenver says:

    The primary season will offer a bit of a "safe space," and perhaps the craziest candidates will be sidelined before the NRSC generally and Cory Gardner specifically will need to support them.

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