After months of indecision, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) indicated Saturday that he thinks he will attend a giant conservative event called the Western Conservative Summit (WCS).
“We’ve been trying to figure out the schedule,” Gardner told a conservative training session Saturday in Broomfield. “I believe we are. I think it’s on the schedule now. We’re trying to figure out where we are going to be to make that happen. I think so, yeah.”
Colorado Republican Party Executive Director Steve House asked Gardner the question, saying, “The number one question I’ve been getting being involved in the state party right now is, ‘Will Cory be at the Conservative Summit.”
“I know I’ve missed it once or twice, but I think I’ve been there the majority of times,” responded Gardner. “I think the plan is to be there.”
Conservative activist Joy Overbeck, a former Washington Times columnist, was more definitive on Facebook over the weekend, stating, Gardner “will be attending” the Summit and folks should buy tickets.
One Facebook commenter responded to Overbeck with, “I worked hard for [Gardner] to be elected and then he started turncoating on his own Republican Party and Trump!”
“He has a 90% record of voting with Trump–Google it,” replied Overbeck online. “We need to work hard to re-elect him–or would you prefer the Hickster who will likely run?”
The exchange illustrates one theory on why Gardner seemed to be avoiding the Summit: He was worried conservatives might boo him. Others speculated that he didn’t want to appear with such a conservative crowd as the 2020 election nears.
Gardner’s indecision on attending the Summit, sponsored by Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute, surprised some political analysts, who pointed out that Gardner has tried in recent months to align with the conservative base of the GOP, with, for example, his early endorsement of Trump.
The annual WCS attracts some of the most right-leaning figures in American politics, including, in 2016, then GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Conference director Jeff Hunt said last month that it was “disappointing” that Gardner had not decided if he’d attend this year’s WCS, which takes place July 12 and 13. This year will be the 10-year anniversary of the event.
If he attends, Gardner would join, among others, Trump cabinet member Ben Carson, pundit and gun proponent Michelle Malkin, Colorado’s Republican Party leader Ken Buck, Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr, writer David Horowitz, anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson, and right wing radio hosts, like KNUS 710-AM’s Julie Hayden and Chuck Bonniwell, who regularly slam Gardner.
Organizers say the most popular speech was a 2016 keynote by Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty.
At last year’s Summit, Gardner told the crowd he thinks the media “want us to fail” in retaining control of the U.S. Senate, which gives Republicans the power to appoint conservative judges. Republicans went on in November to win a majority in the senate chamber.
Erik Maulbetsch contributed to this post.