Everybody Should Have The Opportunity To Run Against Gardner

(Bumped into Monday by popular demand – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette now updating that Andrew Romanoff may not be a U.S. Senate candidate despite today’s filing:

A representative of Andrew Romanoff said Thursday’s FEC filing was an update to previously filed paperwork and was not intended to launch a new campaign for Senate.

We’ll update when we or anybody else learns more.


The overwhelming consensus from post-election polls and press analysis is that Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado will be one of the nation’s most vulnerable incumbent U.S. Senators in the 2020 elections. With that in mind, it should surprise no one that a large number of Colorado Democrats are seriously considering a run against Gardner, setting up would could be a big and very competitive primary. Back in April of 2017, Gardner held a telephone “town hall” where he answered a question about Donald Trump’s tax returns saying “everybody should have the opportunity to release their tax returns.”

Today, everybody wants the opportunity to run against Cory Gardner.

With that in mind, we’re beginning with this post a running list of the Democratic candidates who are officially in the U.S. race, seriously considering, or maybe would make the jump given the appropriate encouragement from the right people. And as we’ll explain, there’s lots of room for this list to grow, including big names who could become prohibitive favorites upon entry:

Former Colorado Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff filed to run just today, confirming widespread rumors that he would take his second shot at a U.S. Senate seat after losing the hotly contested 2010 Democratic primary to now-Sen. Michael Bennet. Romanoff remains popular among grassroots Democrats, and has stayed in the game with his unsuccessful challenge to Rep. Mike Coffman a few years ago.

Lorena Garcia, executive director of the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition, announced her run in late November. Although she has never held elected office, Garcia is a longtime director or numerous local political nonprofits and is a frequent presence at the state capitol during the legislative session.

Here are candidates who haven’t yet formally joined the race but are known to be considering:

Outgoing Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran has an energetic base of support among Denver Democrats, who have made no secret of their desire for her to run–but could struggle elsewhere.

Former Colorado Sen. Michael Johnston, who lost the gubernatorial primary despite large helpings of out-of-state ed “reform” support, still has resources he could draw upon for a Senate bid.

Former Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett indicated an interest in the race last year.

Trish Zornio, who seems nice but would be best described as a minor candidate in the event she files for the race.

From there, the speculation turns to potentially big names who could upset or even end a primary if they were to announce their own runs. This would include Rep. Ed Perlmutter and freshman Rep. Joe Neguse–and yes, even Gov. John Hickenlooper in the event he reconsiders a run for President. Cary Kennedy was another potential first tier candidate, but she just took a high-level position in Jared Polis’ administration.

Again we’re not intending this to be a comprehensive list, and names are likely to come and go before we get to anything like a final slate of Democratic primary candidates. The multitude of qualified candidates on the Democratic bench, combined with Gardner’s widely-recognized weakness, means this is going to be a compelling primary.

108 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit! says:

    Shit or get off the pot Andrew. I say that every year!

  2. Davie says:

    Between candidates petitioning on and the ones taking the caucus route, it will be a very interesting race.  I just hope Andrew comes up with a better campaign ad than "Balanced Budget Amendment" this time.

  3. flatiron says:

    Why would Duran struggle outside of Denver?


    Dems should take a long, hard look at Neguse — would be hard to give up a safe Congressional seat right after winning it but he could be a stellar Senate candidate

    • DENependent says:

      There are problems for Duran given her history. She was hired by her father when he was the head of UFCW Local 7. Then there was a disputed election with allegations of irregularities and so on.

      I think most Democrats outside of Denver would shy away from her.

      • mamajama55 says:

        I don't know about that – but  I'm biased against Duran because of her backstabbing against Senator Aguilar on the health care bill. It goes to character.

        However, I'd like to see a woman win against Cory.

        Trish Zornio is a super smart scientist, and deserves more in-depth consideration than Pols' "seems nice".  Zornio has been exploring a run against Gardner for months, and to her credit has campaigned all over the state. She has a well-developed issues platform on her website. We've seen her several times in NE Colorado.

        Cary Kennedy knows how to work a crowd, and her governance experience is equivalent to Romanoff's.

        Lorena Garcia is a credible candidate with a hefty history of service in Colorado.

        Allegra "Happy" Haynes. Senator Aguilar herself. Senator Giron. Barbara Mitsch Bush. There is truly a wealth of smart, savvy, experienced individuals to choose from.


    • notaskinnycook says:

      He'd lose the CD2 Dems, for sure, Flatiron. They'd feel betrayed and have every right to.

  4. RepealAndReplace says:

    And what about Weiser, Young and Griswold? Will they also get into the mix? And Diane Primavera? Why not, since lieutenant governor doesn't usually go anywhere. (Ask Jane Norton, Joe Rogers and Gail Schoettler.)

    And what about Gene Nichols and Tom Strickland?

  5. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    Pols is getting ahead of itself again regarding “Gardner’s widely recognized weakness.” Reminds me of all the hoopla originating from Pols with the 6th congressional district.

    Perhaps Pols may want to ask Congressman Andrew Romanoff, Congressman Joe Miklosi, Congresswoman Morgan Carroll, what they think of Pols' early election predictions.

    • unnamed says:

      It is premature.  However, I do feel the dynamic with the Senate race is different than the CD6 races before this year. 

      Gardner is not a popular guy and I just don't think he can just word-salad his way out of the pickle he is in if Dems have a good opponent that will hammer his record to make him untrustworthy.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Everybody loves a horse race Banger.  Too bad you can't bet on politicians like you do horses.  It would be bigger than sports betting.  Speculating on Gardner's future nemesis is a hell of a lot better than getting a colonoscopy with a cold wand.  Just saying.

    • ParkHill says:

      Gardner won't be the Republican candidate for one of two reasons:

      (1) A right-wing, Trumpist, tea party candidate will win the primary.

      (2) Gardner will opt out for the Right-wing golden parachute, i.e. lobbying, think tank.

      • Mike W. says:

        He'll be the candidate. He's been a right-wing nutter his whole time in congress, and a Senate campaign is a chance to direct millions of dollars to those lobbying firms and think tanks even if you lose.

    • notaskinnycook says:

      Gene Nichols and Tom Strickland? Wow, R&R, you’ve been around at least as long as I have. Those names go quite aways back,

      On the other hand, you could ask Congressman Jason Crow. One just needs to pick the right time.

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      The 6th CD was like tipping over a pop machine. Or ending a relationship. (To borrow a phrase from Jerry Seinfeld.)

      Sometime you have to push and rock it a few times before it topples over.

    • OrangeFree says:

      Gardner won in 2014 – a GOP wave year – with only 48% of the vote against a very poorly run and messaged Udall campaign that still managed to get 46%. He will be running for re-election in a presidential election year with a deeply unpopular standard bearer right above him on the ballot. There are hundreds of thousands of new, younger, more liberal-leaning voters in the state today than there were in 2014, when Gardner won by less than 40,000 votes.   

      I'm not writing his political obituary, big time GOP electeds have a way of surviving in this state a la Coffman all the time after all, but it's folly not to consider Gardner the most in danger sitting GOP senator up for re-election in 2020. He's going to have a fight on his hands, and he just can't happy campaign ad smile his way through this one. 

      • RepealAndReplace says:

        Doug Jones is far and away the most endangered US Senator up in 2020 at this point in time. But Gardner probably is a distant second given the fact that Colorado was one of the Few states carried by Clinton in 2016 that has a Republican up in 2020. Maine is another and after her defense Kavanaugh, Susan Collins is probably the third most vulnerable Republican up in 2020.

        After that, it's a big leap to who is #4. Maybe the Arizona seat left vacant by John McCain's death. Maybe North Carolina's Thom Tillis which managed to elect a Dem governor while voting for Trump for president in 2016.

        Best case scenario:  Dems pick up those four and lose Alabama. Senate ends up 50/50 split.

        PS It was 50/50 after the 2000 election for a period of time. And Tom Daschle and Trent Lott made it work during that period of time. But this time around, things are much nastier and neither party's base is going to tolerate any type of cooperation.

      • Mike W. says:

        Right? And is everyone forgetting HOW he ran his campaign? He LIED OUT HIS ASS constantly, but he smiled at the camera and made it seem like he was Joe-everyman, not a spineless weasel. People weren't wise to that strategy four years ago, they'll be wise to it now with Trump around. 

  6. JohnInDenver says:

    I think the Democrats should go with a winning state-wide formula — find somebody who has a fair amount of personal money and a willingness to spend it, with access to others who have money, too. And, by the way, their heart and their policies need to be in the right place, too.   Think Bennet, Hickenlooper, Polis …

    Assuming Tim Gill doesn't want to be a politician and Pat Stryker is more interested in spending her time on art and youth development than politics, anyone know a Coloradoan who is a socially conscious, affluent, no-need-to-work person who wants a prominent role in the United States Senate?

  7. Gilpin Guy says:

    Anyone else uncomfortable with Hickenlooper?  His 'both sides are bad' BS is getting old and I would have a hard time mustering much enthusiasm for him running for either President or Senator.  Like John Elway and Dick Lamm, he needs to just go away.

    • mamajama55 says:

      Hick is personally likeable, competent at governing – and utterly uninspiring. Not to mention his also being completely in the pockets of fossil fuel industries. Not the person we want to help energize young and diverse voters.


    • RepealAndReplace says:

      I would have a hard time mustering much enthusiasm….

      Much like all those people who had trouble mustering enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton.

      Remind, how did that work out again…. Oh yes, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

      • JohnInDenver says:

        Hillary won Colorado … so there's a 4th example of a statewide win by a Democrat who has money, access to people with money, and a heart in the right place.

        • RepealAndReplace says:

          And lacking charisma. Substance over style? Competence over charm? What a thought….

          • Gilpin Guy says:

            And what exactly are his accomplishments?  Didn't screw up the state during good times?  I don't remember him out on the campaign trail campaigning for Polis.  He did sign modest gun regulations in 2013 but has pretty much been a no show around the capital for the last four years.  Seems more like Mike Pence substance to me.  What exactly makes him the ideal candidate for statewide or national office.  We don't need inoffensive as much as we need leadership.  I'm hoping Polis injects something more 'substantial' to our state leadership.  Hickenlooper was better than his rivals but doesn't come off as someone ready to go toe to toe with either Gardner or Trump.  Let him retire to a cushy fossil fuel lobbying job.  Leave this leadership stuff to those people that actually care about our environment and it's people instead of preening about how "neutral" they are.

            • Conserv. Head Banger says:

              GG loses me immediately with a comparison to Mike Pence, the ultimate warrior for dominionist Christianity and theocracy. If I still lived in Indiana, my home state, I wouldn't vote for Pence for dog catcher.

              Hick led the effort to bring the Outdoor Retailer shows to Denver, with help from Gardner and Bennet. He opposed sale of public lands to private interests. Elsewhere, what else were you expecting from a centrist Democrat? He never would be a flaming lefty like some folks around here want.

            • RepealAndReplace says:

              Didn't screw up the state during good times?

              There is something to be said for that. Ask Kansas. 

              • notaskinnycook says:


                Kansas has been screwed up for a long time. Thomas Frank published “What’s the Matter with Kansas” way back in 2005, when Kathleen Sebelius was governor, and she inherited that mess.

        • DENependent says:

          And experience running for office. Name anyone who has won a statewide race in Colorado without winning a lower office.

          • Voyageur says:

            As I recall, Gov. John Love had never ran for lower office.

            • DENependent says:

              That is interesting. I did not know that. Double impressive since it was defeating an incumbent.

              Of course in 1962 the population of Colorado was 1.7 million so that would be about like winning two congressional districts today. Still an impressive feat, though.

              • Voyageur says:

                Love was the choice of a new breed of Republicans led by jean tool.  His primary foe was David Hamill of Sterlin g, an old Guardsman who had once headed the REA.  Love's primary victory marked a shift from rural to Front Range domination. Incumbent Steve McNichols was a great governor but raised taxes to build up state institutions like higher education.  I still count Big Steve as the best gov. I ever knew.  But Coloradans do hate us some taxes.  Love ran and won on a tax cut.

          • davebarnes says:

            Heidi Ganahl – CU regent
            Stephen Ludwig – CU regent

            • DENependent says:

              If SoS, Treasurer, and Attorney General do not fit not fit JohnInDenver's "top-of-the-ticket race" criteria then CU Regent really, really, really, really do not.

              Running for CU Regent is a training wheels race the same as running for the Colorado Senate or House.

              Running for Mayor of Denver or Denver District Attorney is harder than running for regent. Actually, that is a name no one has mentioned yet. Beth McCann could follow Ritter’s footsteps into higher office…

              • JohnInDenver says:

                A problem with Beth McCann — as best I can tell, there has been no effort to step up either pro-active prevention OR reactive prosecution and punishment of institutional violence among the Sheriff & Police departments. 

                Nor has there been a notable campaign of prosecutions of any set of crimes — related to issues preferred by the right OR the left — which is likely admirable for a "professional prosecutor" and her team, but certainly doesn't position her as a politician trying for upward mobility.

          • mamajama55 says:

            Michael Bennet.

            1997-2003: Managing director, Anschutz Investment Co.

            2003-2005: Chief of staff to mayor of Denver

            2005-2009:  Appointed as Superintendent, Denver Public Schools

            2009- Was appointed to fill Ken Salazar's Senate seat when Ken retired.

            Elected as Senator statewide in 2010, defeating Ken Buck.

    • Voyageur says:

      Hick wins and the left will never forgive him for that.   But I'm cool with victory.

    • itlduso says:

      Yes, Hick did his “both sides are bad” on Wednesday regarding the rumble in the Oval Office with Shumer and Pelosi.  It’s annoying, but I guess it’s okay if that’s what it takes to win in our still purple state.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        Not OK with me Iditarod.  How can he run as a Democrat when he spends all his time trying not to be associated with them?  Reminds me of a certain carpetbagger who did a lot of damage to the party trying to run as a Democrat when it was obvious his disdain for it.  I want the Democratic nominee to be someone who understands the need for immediate action on Climate Change and supports the New Green Deal.  Fracking fluid Hickenlooper doesn't seem like a good fit.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        Polis ran as a DEMOCRAT and beat Walker by double digits so this narrative that we need some milquetoast politician like Hickenlooper to win in Colorado isn't supported by the facts.  I'm fine with Hickenlooper if he wants to disassociate himself from the Democratic Party like  Dick Lamm but I get tired of this meme that Democrats can only win in Colorado if they hide or dilute their progressive values and agenda.  Polis has shown that a sensible and progressive candidate can beat a standard Republican big time.

        • Voyageur says:

          Polis carefully distanced himself fro m the uberleft and its beloved 112 freeze in the dark proposition.

        • RepealAndReplace says:

          I seem to remember that the Educrats had their favorite candidate – Cary Kennedy – because Polis was too far to the right on education issues (i.e., charter schools).

          I realize he talked about giving away some free stuff but that was easy. I imagine he will give universal healthcare at the state level a go, endorse it, get it on the ballot, give a few speeches, and when it goes down in flames, declare that we tried but the public wasn't ready for it.

          He is definitely further left than Hick but not THAT FAR left. And besides, with TABOR, there are limits to what he can do economically.

          • Gilpin Guy says:

            So now we're saying that folks that are running as Democrats can get elected but only if they aren't really Democrats.  Really?

            • mamajama55 says:

              Keep in mind that the folks offering this sage advice are Republicans who fled their party because of the batshit crazy social issues conservatism, but still hold to "financially conservative"* principles.

              *translation= I got mine, now don't bother me with any taxes for social welfare spending, the poor will always be with us, and they deserve to be poor. Bootstraps and their 2nd / 3rd minimum wage jobs will solve poverty in America!

              • RepealAndReplace says:

                Sorry, MJ, if we haven't all swallowed the redistribute-the-wealth crap that you folks like to peddle. And I have been a active Democrat much longer than the great left wing hope, Bernie Sanders. As for me having once been a Republican, I might mention that Elizabeth Warren was once a Republican too.

                Giving people an opportunity instead of free stuff is a sustainable economic model. And it's one thing to have a social safety net, another to put in a trampoline. You people want to put in the trampoline and have the rest of us foolishly pay for it. 

                • Conserv. Head Banger says:

                  "The trampoline" = 2016's Amendment 69 on health care. My state taxes would have tripled, with no benefit accruing to me. I think that MJ's "translation" is way, way off base.

            • Voyageur says:

              No, GG, I think we're saying that the uberleft aren't really Democrats.  Real Democrats seem to be doing great just now.

              . Jill Stein, not so much.

              • Duke Cox says:

                "The uberleft aren't really Democrats."

                How would you know, V.? Been a Democrat your whole life?

                Myopia is a real problem for you "Republican lite" corporatists, ain't it?

                • Conserv. Head Banger says:

                  "Myopia" is not a problem, except for the far left who can't understand why everyone doesn't toe their line on their versions of "social justice."

                • Voyageur says:

                  How'd that freeze in the dark thing work out for you, duke?


                  • Duke Cox says:

                    I am loving life , V.

                    How are you?                         

                    • Voyageur says:

                      Hanging in there duke, on a modest pension augmented by 40 years of investments in s and p 500 stocks.   

                    • itlduso says:

                      I wish you well with that S&P 500 investment. V.  Another 2% loss today.  This could be the worst December since the Great Depression.  Trump took Obama’s seven year positive stock trend and trashed it within two years.  And, that’s after passing a two trillion dollar tax giveaway.  Don’t hear Trump boasting about the stock market these days.  And that really stinks!  

  8. MADCO says:

    GG is closest.

    But all the Diehard Ds are missing the point (s).

    Lots of reason Colorado voted for so many Ds. It won't happen that way in 20.

    The liberal, progressive population increases every day and the rwnj base are a dying breed.  I'm not saying there are no 16-28 yr old rwnj in Colorado.
    But they like legal mj, the expanding economy, protecting the environment 'smart' growth, lower cost of higher ed, expanding infrastructure, …

    Candidates who like this stuff no longer have to identify as "hard left"

    And the democratic party is … dead.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Why is the Democratic Party 'dead'?  From what I can tell members of the Democratic Party kicked some serious butt across the country this last cycle.

      What or who is going to take it's place?

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Expanding infrastructure….

      You mean like the ballot initiative to raise taxes to repair/replace roads?


      • Voyageur says:

        I voted against that, mostly because it used sales taxes for roads. Fuel taxes for roads are a better idea.  We shouldn't be subsidizing more driving , then wondering why the planet is warming.  Fuel taxes at least resemble carbon taxes.

        • DENependent says:

          Oh be fair V, if it was a carbon tax to fund roads you would have been dutifully typing copies of oil industry talking points here about how it was the worst, most anti-capitalism thing ever and it being all a scheme to get us all to freeze in the dark.

          • Conserv. Head Banger says:

            The problem with the ballot initiative on roads was that it still subsidized lower income persons. Everyone uses roads; everyone should pay something. 

            • DENependent says:

              Waa? What person can avoid sales taxes in Colorado? And if anything lower income people would have paid a higher percentage of their income.

              According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities the lower quartile of earners pay 1.6% of their income to federal exicse taxes while the top quartile pays 0.4% and the top 1% 0.1%. Is there any reason to think that local sales taxes would not have been similarly regressive? How is paying a larger portion of your income a subsidy to lower income people?

              • Duke Cox says:

                I, too, would appreciate an explanation of that. I would, however, more likely expect some sort of "uber-lefty" insinuation, or some even less relevant ad hominem retort.

                A new mantra for our corporatist friends who suffer from "Bi-partisanship Related Dementia" (BRD) is encapsulated in an acronym inspired by our good friend CHB…


                with no benefit to me…



                • Voyageur says:

                  I don't think sales tax is regressive in Colorado because there are exemptions for groceries and drugs.  But why should we subsidize highways every time we buy Fis h and Chips?  Even if we can't get a carbon tax, we can at least defeat Highways Uber Alles plans.

          • Voyageur says:

            No, denny, I wouldn't have.  I'm in favor or a carbon tax or, at minimum, use taxes that reflect the cost of roads.  I worked very hard to pass fastracks, writing more than 150 articles for the Denver post about the need for transit.  That doesn't make Stalinist 112 a good plan and of course I fought the damn thing.

    • Independent Voter says:

      This is one independent who has already made up his mind to vote Dem in 2020. If anything I think we'll see a stronger blue wave in this state in the next election. Gardner is toast and Trump will lose Colorado by double digits.

  9. Independent Voter says:

    Hick stands almost no chance in the presidential field in 2020. I really hope that he rethinks that and runs for the senate instead. 

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      I'd like to see Governor Hickenlooper run for Senate. But, imagine for a moment the "wailing and gnashing of teeth" in certain quarters here on Pols, if Hickenlooper got elected as a senator.

      We might see far left heads beginning to explode at the prospect of Colorado having two centrist Dems as our senators.

    • RepealAndReplace says:


      Me too, IndependentVoter.

    • Voyageur says:

      Hick for Senate is OK by me. I'm a big fan of Cary Kennedy.   But winning back control of the Senate is desperately important.  Otherwise, our whole federal judiciary is going to be made of judges who worship the " original intent" of the Constitution — meaning that they want to own slaves!

      • RepealAndReplace says:

        I would like to see a woman nominated and Cary Kennedy would be at the top of my list. But does she want it? She just accepted a post in the Polis administration.

        Other than Kennedy, how many Democratic women have statewide recognition? Jena Griswold hasn't even been sworn in and I suspect she really wants to be Secretary of State.

        DeGette has a shelf-life that does go south of Hampden, west of Sheridan and east of Monaco. Crisanta Duran would appeal to Latino/Latina voters but would have the Food Workers union baggage. After that, we get down to the back benchers in the legislature.

        Morgan Carroll has the history of losing to soon-to-be ex-Representative Coffman. If not Cary Kennedy, who?

  10. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    I' duplicate post deleted.

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