The Fatal Contradiction Cory Gardner Can’t Unwind

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

If you haven’t already done so, stop what you’re doing and read the story driving the day’s political news in Colorado, an impressive deep dive into Sen. Cory Gardner’s re-election prospects from the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul. Paul’s feature-length exploration of the challenges facing America’s Most Vulnerable Senator™ going into the 2020 elections touches on themes we’ve been talking about in this space literally for years, and are combining now to create a perfect storm for Gardner from which there may well be no escape. The first four paragraphs of Paul’s story summarize Gardner’s dilemma perhaps better than any story we’ve read anywhere:

In 2016, when Donald Trump ran for president, Colorado’s Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner didn’t mince his words about the GOP nominee: “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.”

Gardner was reacting to an “Access Hollywood” recording of the candidate bragging about sexual assault. He said he didn’t vote for Trump, instead casting a ballot for Mike Pence, now vice president, as a write-in candidate.

Flash forward to today, and Gardner’s political world is now spinning in the opposite direction. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner made an early endorsement of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. He has a direct line of communication to the president — they speak on the phone fairly regularly. And he has refused to answer questions about whether Trump’s interactions with Ukraine’s president — which are now the subject of impeachment proceedings — were wrong.

Of all the many unresolved contradictions in Gardner’s record, the evolution from calling for Donald Trump to pull out of the 2016 presidential race in October of that year saying “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women,” to today where Gardner has not only endorsed Trump’s re-election but headlines fundraisers for Trump in New York City, is arguably the most damning. Jesse Paul’s attempts to get an answer to this fundamental question from Gardner were not successful, but Gardner is going to face the question again and again between now and next November. Short of admitting that tax cuts are more important to him than sexual assault, otherwise known as political suicide, we just don’t see how Gardner will ever have a satisfactory answer.

In every discussion of the upcoming U.S. Senate race in Colorado pitting an as-yet undetermined Democratic challenger against Gardner, a recurring theme is Gardner’s unusual degree of vulnerability as the narrow winner of his Senate seat five years ago, in a state whose politics have steadily been migrating leftward away from Gardner’s Republican brand both before and since. Gardner won his seat by less than two percentage points in 2014, an upset victory that relied heavily on re-invention to distract from a staunchly conservative record that would under other circumstances have rendered Gardner unelectable statewide.

At the same time, Gardner cannot simply move left to match the state’s political trajectory, since that means jilting the Republican base who overwhelmingly support Trump and in all probability will continue to do so until they take their last breath no matter what happens. Colorado’s independent plurality electorate may force candidates to reach beyond their base, but without the Republican base behind him Gardner cannot possibly put together a majority coalition to hold his seat.

With all of this in mind, it may be as today’s story concludes that the only feasible choice for Gardner is to hitch his wagon to Trump to the bitter end. But without some means we can’t envision today of deflecting the wrath of Colorado voters finally able to vote against Trump personally, the polls are right–and Cory Gardner’s fate is all but sealed.

11 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Moderatus says:

    The VOTERS decided the 2016 elections. Cory Gardner accepted reality and moved on for the good of the country. So should the left. There's another election coming up and instead Dimocrats are still trying to refight the last one with a doomed impeachment grandstand. Better start thinking forward instead of backward or you're going to lose again.

    • unnamed says:

      Right. Ignore the fact that Trump is a corrupt crook.  

      Also, we aren't taking "move on" advice from a moron who was on here championing recalls of Democrats who were just elected the fall before, by decisive margins.

      Trump can't even break a 50% approval rating.  

    • MichaelBowman says:

      The ELECTORAL COLLEGE decided the 2016 elections (your vote was cast for Hillary); everyday Americans made a different choice.  You do remember the spanking you got in the mid-terms? I doubt anyone in the progressive circles is seeking advice from a federal-government-dependent-goverment-hating civil servant whose 1-for-how-many? 

      • unnamed says:

        Yeah.  He does.  He reinvented himself as an angry, vulgar, and even stupider person, who was talking about recalling every Democrat who just got elected in 2018.  

        Wonder if he got his money back from Dudley.

    • NOV GOP meltdown says:

      There is no greater hypocrite than the classic anti-government government worker.

      Well, except for a law-and-order Republican who supports a thoroughly corrupt administration. Or, an evangelical voter who votes for a married man who shags a porn star then pays her off and threatens her to keep her silent. Also, almost forgot, a patriotic defense hawk who supports a President who allows Vladimir Putin to influence the highest levels of our government. And, wait, also a fiscally conservative budget hawk who voted for a man who increased our deficit by one trillion dollars.

      Or, oh nevermind, fuck it.

    • JohnInDenver says:

      Moderatus — the voters decided the 2014 and 2016 elections.  And the 2018 election.  Gardner won in 2014, Trump lost in Colorado but threaded a needle to win in 2016, and Republicans lost Colorado bigly across the board in 2018.  Mike Coffman tried to walk the line of some support and some opposition to Trump and lost.  I think Gardner is going to try a different approach, going all in on Trump [though I really can't imagine what he will be telling his daughters].

      Trump will be on the ballot without accomplishment on the Wall.  With on-going humanitarian problems on the Southern Border as he tries to keep asylum seekers out.  With a slowing economy.  With no health care plan.  With dramatic declines in foreigners' opinions of the United States.  With no better deals with North Korea, Iran, or anywhere in the Middle East.  With polling showing a majority wanting to vote against Trump, and five of the Democratic candidates winning national polling head to head comparisons by 5 to 10 points. 

      I don't see how a big tax cut for corporations and the upper elements of the income scale, more conservative (and some "unqualified") judges, and a failed move of the BLM to Grand Junction will be enough to get a win here.  And there are fewer and fewer places with different party victors in Presidential and Senatorial votes.

    • spaceman65 says:

      Doomed impeachment grandstand?  Ha.  Sufficient evidence for impeachment and removal from office for a president for whom there is ample evidence of indictable criminal offenses.  But if you want to embrace the phony narrative and contribute to the demise of the rule of the law and the republic, go ahead.  I'm not going to "move on" for the "good" of the country.  We don't vote for fascists, we fight them.  

      • Voyageur says:

        So, after the Senate acquits 49-51, what's your next move, Spacey?

        • harrydoby says:

          With any luck, Trump will become a civilian come January 2021, and the next president has the good judgement to let the DOJ and State Attorneys General do their job and investigate the hell out of his many and various rackets.

          I'll grab the popcorn.

          • Voyageur says:

            Hopefully, New York will convict him of tax evasion, sending him to prison despite the federal pardons he issues himself.  Jail to the chief!

          • MichaelBowman says:

            The parallels between this train of thought and the history of Mein Kampf is notable:

            Hitler began composing his tome while sitting in Landsberg prison for his role in the infamous Beer Hall Putsch in which he and his minions attempted to stage a coup and grasp control of the government in Bavaria.

            Hannity and Fucker Carlson would be doing live feeds every evening from the cell block.

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