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January 03, 2019 02:37 PM UTC

Like Clockwork, Cory Gardner Begins His 2020 Pivot

  • by: Colorado Pols

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is widely considered to be among the most endangered incumbents facing re-election in 2020. In early December, we wondered aloud in this space about how long it would take before Gardner changed course from his increasingly Trump-loving, GOP leadership-having positions into a pretend “moderate” who is theoretically more capable of winning a second term.

Well, if you picked “January 3” in your office pool for the beginning of the backpedal, you may claim your winnings. As The Hill reports:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who faces a potentially tough re-election in 2020, says Congress should re-open the federal government, even without a deal on funding President Trump’s border wall.

Gardner is the first Senate Republican to call for ending the partial shutdown even without a deal on President Trump’s demand for $5 billion to fund a border wall.

“I think we should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open. The Senate has done it last Congress, we should do it again today,” he said…

…Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he will not schedule a vote on a clean stop-gap funding measure to re-open federal agencies without prior sign-off from the president.


Gardner has already publicly reversed himself on the idea of a border wall, but openly calling for an end to the government shutdown without a conversation about a giant wall is a different move — though a completely obvious and expected one for a politician known for saying whatever, whenever. In fact, Jason Salzman of the Colorado Times Recorder previewed this exact scenario just this morning.

Republicans completely own the current government shutdown because President Trump already said it would be his fault. Americans took that message to heart and aren’t buying Trump’s attempts to deflect blame, which makes the shutdown an unquestioned political problem for Republicans like Gardner.

Gardner sees an opportunity here to cast himself as a problem-solving moderate, but these are still just empty words from Colorado’s junior senator. Would Gardner push Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on reopening the government without Trump’s big wall money? Would he support a veto override if Trump refuses to budge? If not, then none of these words matter.

At some point, Gardner is going to need to back up his rhetoric with action. Otherwise, he risks becoming another Jeff Flake — talking loud, saying nothing, and without an office to call his own.


22 thoughts on “Like Clockwork, Cory Gardner Begins His 2020 Pivot

  1. Anyone want to hazard a guess about another Senator joining Cory's brave statement of "we should have government employees working and getting paid"?  WAPO had the story.

    Two Senate Republicans broke with Trump and party leaders Thursday, saying it was time to end the shutdown even if Democrats would not sign off on the more than $5 billion in border funding Trump is demanding.

    The comments from Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Susan Collins (Maine) — the only two Senate Republicans who are up for re-election in 2020 in states Trump lost — pointed to cracks in the GOP strategy, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will only consider a plan that Trump supports.

    Almost like it was a planned strategy, donchaknow.

    1. If you're right, J i D, we should also see Senators signing on to a bipartisan "reopen government" proposal, from states that elected Democrats in 2018. From Politico:

      But Democrats note that their own senators won 2018 races in six states Trump carried two years earlier: Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Those victories, plus the party’s first Senate victory in Arizona in three decades thanks to Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema, gave the party a road map to competing for the majority again in 2020.

      So, for possible Republican Senators signing on to a wall-less reopening of the government,  I would look to Jon Kyl Martha McSally from Arizona, Steve Daines from Montana, Thom Tillis from North Carolina, and Shelly Capito  (WV). They are from states that are now "weak Trump", having elected Democrats (or with a contested House election in NC)  in 2018. They are also all up for election in 2020.

      1. Kyl is out.  McSally took over that seat.  WV is most definitely NOT weak Trump, even if they reelected Manchin.  Capito isn't going anywhere.  MT is also doubtful, unless, maybe Steve Bullock runs.

        1. Cite some sources, unnamed. I corrected the name, but now McSally is a vulnerable Republican that might sign on to open the government.

          538 had WV as "likely Dem" for 2018, no forecasts for 2020 yet.

          Maybe Capito's district is Red+30, but she is elected statewide, and she has broken with GOP leadership before (on the health bill).

          538 had a fairly conservative analysis predicting Republicans retain control of the Senate in 2020, but that was before McSally won the recount. This same 538 analysis has Joni Ernst (IA) and Thom Tillis (NC) as only a +5 R lead, while if Trump continues to screw up (safe bet), you can see a +8 generic Democratic lean.

          No, I'm not complacent ( I can sense CHB gearing up to caution about Dem complacency). But anything can happen in this environment. Nobody predicted that Dems would have won 40 House seats in 2018.

          So if you know something different that says I'm wrong, cite your sources or at least explain your reasoning.

          1. I agree w/ you about AZ.  It was just a for the record.

            With MT, I think it will be tough for any Dem to knock off Daines.  I think Gov. Steve Bullock has a good shot if he goes for it.  Anybody else will have little to no name rec.  Tester is a popular incumbent with his own personal brand in a red state.

            WV has Trump's highest approval of almost any state.  Joe Manchin got reelected, but it was closer than his previous elections and closer than anybody expected.  He also has a pedigree in that state.  Otherwise WV has fallen away from the Dems pretty hard and the Dem bench there is extremely thin.

            1. In the short term, I'm just looking for R Senators to defect and join Dems in re-opening the government, sans wall funding.

              Their actual 2020 re-election chances are relevant, but in the case of Capito, at least, not as important as her own personal integrity and how secure she feels in her seat, hence willing to take a risk.

              Thanks for sharing your reasoning.

                    1. Again… not talking about Democrats taking control of the Senate.  Way too early for that. 

                      What I’m speculating about is whether there are Republicans who will vote with Dems, now, to reopen the government without funding Trumpty’s vanity wall. 

                      Those I named above are the likeliest suspects, besides Gardner and Collins.

                    2. Agreed…..I've said it before, best case scenario for Dems is 50/50 split. Dems take Maine, Colorado, Arizona and either North Carolina or Iowa, lose Alabama.

        2. And McSally needs to worry about a right wing challenge in the GOP Senate primary in 2020. Remember, Chemtrails Kelly will probably give it another go. And maybe even Sheriff Joe.

          McSally can reposition herself for the general election only if she wins the nomination first.

            1. If there is a three-way split with two RWNJs on the ballot, then she can win the nomination. If she goes one-on-one with Chem-Trails Kelly, then she may lose the primary and the Dems win the Senate seat in the general.

              If McSally is the nominee, a lot  – in fact, maybe everything – will hinge on how unpopular Trump is in Arizona come October/ November 2020.

              If he is where he was in the fall of 2016 or even close to it, she may be able to "get this fucking thing done." If his popularity drops off, she may fail again.

  2. Fuck, I hate to say it, but . . .,

    . . . I wish Bennett would have said this.


    Double Fuck.  Thank you, Sen. Gardner.


    (Gawd, I hate myself)

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