Recapping One Of Cory Gardner’s Worst Weeks

President Donald Trump, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the gross incompetence of President Donald Trump and the non-career professional side of his administration into harsh relief, along with the Republican political establishment that enabled and continues to prop up Trump through his daily displays of embarrassing ignorance, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado has taken a terrible beating in the polls, continuing to underperform a sliding Trump and showing deficits in corroborating polling matchups so large Democrats risk complacency if taken for granted–which means they won’t be, at least not yet.

Of all the bad weeks Gardner has had since Trump’s election, and especially since the outbreak of COVID-19, last week could be the worst. Briefly recap it with us:

Last weekend, after polling the previous week showed Gardner losing by as much as 18%, a new poll from showed Gardner’s approval rating fading to black and stuck several points below Trump’s own As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reported:

Global Strategy Group surveyed 800 registered voters in Colorado online between May 7 and 11. They found 37% of voters approve of the job Gardner is doing, which is lower than the 41% of Colorado voters who approve of the job Trump is doing. Thirty percent approved of Gardner’s work on coronavirus response.

Then Trump told the world that he’s taking a drug he has controversially touted for months, hydroxychloroquine, as a preventative measure despite no evidence it is effective for either treatment or prevention of COVID-19 and evidence it could be lethal. Tuesday, CNN’s Manu Raju tried to get Gardner to say something, anything about the President he’s endorsed for re-election, and Gardner’s lame dodge stuck out like a COVID toe:

Asked if Trump should be giving medical advice, Sen. Cory Gardner said: “I’m going to continue to work with the governor of Colorado and make sure Coloradans have what they need to get through this together…”

Then on Wednesday, Gardner snubbed a request by local NBC affiliate 9NEWS, the highest-rated local news channel in the Denver market, for a Senate debate:

Gardner is the first U.S. Senate candidate since Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell in 1998 to decline to debate their opponent on 9NEWS. [Pols emphasis] Nighthorse Campbell, a Democrat turned Republican, was facing Democrat Dottie Lamm at the time.

He is also the first candidate in any race to decline to debate their opponent on 9NEWS since 2014, when Tom Tancredo refused to debate Republican gubernatorial candidates Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler and Mike Kopp.

While Gardner did agree to some other proposed debates in the general election season, his refusal to go on 9NEWS keeps alive a running battle by reporters at the station to nail Gardner down on a variety of topics over the years going back to his flip-flop on abortion in the 2014 Senate race. This is an increasingly emblematic feud between Gardner and accountability that probably deserves its own blog post.

But of all of these stories that left Cory Gardner looking weak, cowardly, and in deep denial, Thursday’s humiliation was far and away the worst:

Gardner surprised many Wednesday by threatening to stop the Senate recess. He tweeted that it’s “unfathomable” for the chamber to go on a 10-day recess before considering additional coronavirus aid measures. The Senate has been in session the past couple of weeks, but mainly voting on nominations and confirmations.

While Gardner and some other Republican senators have been pushing for more coronavirus aid, McConnell has said repeatedly that a “pause” is needed to see how the money Congress has already spent is or is not working.

Senators left Washington, D.C., without taking up any coronavirus legislation. [Pols emphasis]

And after all of this, a brutal story in Politico Saturday about Gardner’s failure to sway the GOP-controlled Senate on a major local swing voter issue, the legal marijuana industry:

“At some point, I have to go to Cory Gardner and say, ‘Why should the industry continue to support you?’” said Marijuana Policy Project’s Don Murphy, a former Republican lawmaker in Maryland. “I know you’re trying, but you’re not getting anything.” [Pols emphasis]

Cory Gardner’s public defeat after threatening to take show-stopping action to force the Senate to write and pass another round of coronavirus economic stimulus was a shocking exposure of how little influence Gardner actually wields in the Republican-controlled Senate today. It’s surprising that Gardner took this public stand without having assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he’d be backed up. But it’s even more notable that McConnell left one of his supposedly biggest “protects” up for re-election in 2020 to twist in the wind just like McConnell did with marijuana. That’s an unmistakable sign that Gardner’s value to his own party’s leadership, to the extent is was ever more than a photo-op, is on the wane.

Although Cory Gardner quickly turned his attitude around after Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 election, from calling for Trump to pull out of the race to becoming one of Trump’s most loyal defenders through through the worst scandals of Trump’s unprecedented scandal-ridden administration, the reality of Trump’s term in office has almost certainly fulfilled the worst fears of Gardner and other “smart” Republicans who despaired in October of 2016–of both defeat and what victory with Trump would look like.

For Cory Gardner in particular, what Republicans should have hailed as a historic moment of total control in Washington in the first two years of Trump’s presidency was instead an unproductive roller-coaster of executive mismanagement and legislative apprehension at the prospect of making good on a decade of promises to the far right–a central component was repealing and replace the Affordable Care Act, which Gardner has campaigned on running for both the U.S. House and Senate.

After Democrats retook the House and began the long process of holding Trump’s bull-in-a-china-shop administration accountable, not to mention putting a stop to the agenda Republicans had largely failed to pass in the two years they had total control, Gardner has been on the defensive everywhere as his poll numbers have trended from bad to worse. And then came the pandemic, which has exposed Trump and the Republican power base that lives in symbiosis with him as so incompetent and corrupt in the face of an actual emergency that Democrats could not possibly make the present reality up.

The proof is coming on so fast and so thick that the biggest challenge is keeping up with the transcription.

The second challenge is finding the words on a continuing basis to adequately describe it.


22 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. davebarnes says:

    Not even close to bad.

    no one but us junkies are paying attention.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      Yep, and let's not forget the boost given to Gardner's re-election campaign by K.C. Becker and the other ultra-progressives. It's that letter asking Gardner to commit not to vote for Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader.

      • bullshit! says:

        You're saying all this stuff does not matter but KC's letter somehow does?

        That's silly. If you wanna say no one cares about Cory anymore, fine. But you can't cite your own even more obscure story and say that does matter.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        I've come around to the position that Becker delivered a nasty blow to Gardner by making him pledge undying loyalty to Trump and McConnell.  Gardner delighted in thumbing his nose at Becker and pronouncing his fealty to Trump and McConnell but in a state that hates Trump it looks more like a major mistake to me.  Gardner can not by any stretch of the imagination pretend that he is an independent politician anymore.  This ain't 2014 and his butt kissing stinks to the high country.  Gardner personally branded himself an errand boy for the Republican elites.  In the end, it might turn out that Becker was playing chess against his checkers.

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          Only time will tell, GG. Let's see how things look, poll wise, in two months. Meanwhile, time for me to mail another check tomorrow to the Hick campaign.

  2. gertie97 says:

    While I agree Gardner is not in good shape, any online poll leaves me skeptical.

    As a certified junkie (ask my long-suffering husband) I do not care that little Cory didn't get his way on recess or which teevee station might or might not carry a debate that may or may not happen. I care even less what Becker does.

    I know Memorial Day is an exceedingly slow news day, but this is scraping awfully hard.



  3. JohnInDenver says:

    All this, and no comment on Cory Gardner's "leadership" in the Senate as the chairman of the 'Subcommittee On East Asia, The Pacific, And International Cybersecurity Policy'

    In the past week, Gardner has been able to issue a press release, concluding  "The United States will stand resolute in its support of the Hong Kong people. These developments are of grave concern to the United States, and could lead to a significant reassessment on U.S. policy towards Hong Kong.”

    And there has been NO reaction to North Korea's announcements of  “new policies for further increasing the nuclear war deterrence of the country and putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation” and “crucial measures for considerably increasing the firepower strike ability of the artillery pieces of the Korean People’s Army.”

  4. MichaelBowman says:

    PoliticalPro has an article up this morning on Gardner that's behind the paywall.  I'll post the link when it's on the free side but in the meantime a few worthy quotes: 

    Gardner is one of the most endangered Republicans in the Senate and a strong advocate for Colorado’s politically active cannabis industry. Because he has gone to bat for marijuana issues, like access to banking, much of the industry remains loyal to him.

    Democrats, though, are seizing on the fact that Gardner has not achieved any legislative wins. The party’s likely nominee, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, has accused Gardner of being all talk and no action, despite not having the strongest pro-cannabis track record himself.

    “It's this ironic situation where Cory Gardner, the Republican — and a conservative — actually put his money where his mouth is, and brought the issue forward,” said Peter Marcus, communications director for Denver-based dispensary chain Terrapin Care Station — and a former reporter who covered Colorado politics for more than a decade. “Whereas John Hickenlooper doesn't have a lot to rest on in terms of doing much for the industry.”

    • kwtree says:

      Yes, the irony is thick in Colorado’s Senate race…at least as far as cannabis policy goes. Romanoff is the best candidate still standing. Joe Salazar agrees.


      • Voyageur says:

        Nobody cares what Joe sour grapes thinks.

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          Joe "has been" Salazar was a classic far left liberal in the Legislature; always looking for creative ways to spend other peoples' money. 

          And I mailed my latest check to the Hickenlooper campaign earlier today, as I said I would do.

          • Voyageur says:

            Salazar's not a has been.  I'm a has been. Salazar is a never was!

            • kwtree says:

              The people of District 31, who elected Joe Salazar three times with an average 10 point margin, would disagree with you that he is a “never was”. 


              Colorado voters statewide, who voted for Salazar although he was hugely outspent by Phil Weiser, came within 1% or about 4,000 votes of a tie. It was too close to call for a few days, and Salazar was smart to wait, rather than concede. He did eventually concede and endorsed Weiser, so not sure where the “sour grapes” comes from. At any rate, 296,551 Colorado voters apparently cared what Joe Salazar thinks.

              Now, as head of Colorado Rising, Joe effectively advocates for working class neighborhoods that are fighting against industrial pollution. So those neighbors, too, care what Joe thinks. 

              • Voyageur says:

                Joe is a mediocrity whose success in politics, such as it was, stemmed from sharing a last name with two vastly more able legislators, ken and john.  If his last name had been smith, he would never have even won a legislative seat.

          • Duke Cox says:

            So is it time for you and V. and the rest of the Corporate Cabal to can that “only our anointed Oily Boy can beat Gardner” crapola?

            It is only Hicks’ corporate connections and sympathies that makes you love him so. I am still waiting for a detailed analysis stating how and in what ways John will execute the job of senator better than Andrew. I suppose I will never see that analysis because it would be just a fantasy construct anyway.

            Hick didn’t want the job….said he wouldn’t be very good at it. I agree with him. Maya Angelou was right.

            Now is a time when we need someone whose word we can trust. That is not Cory Gardner…nor is it John Hickenlooper. Andrew Romanoff is, by far, the candidate for senate who can be trusted to keep Colorados’ people at the top of his priority list.

            Romanoff 2020


            • Voyageur says:

              And what is your "proof" that your guy, who lost his only two big elections, is better than ours, who is 4-O?  

              Tee hee, we're waiting.

              • Gilpin Guy says:

                I like Romanoff as a person.  He is thoughtful and articulate.  Glad he is in the race.  Let's see if he can finish strong.

                • Voyageur says:

                  He was a fine speaker and a good legislator.  On the record, he wad a classic clinton/gore/dlc moderate.  It tickles me to see the left paint him as the reincarnation of georgi Plekanov.  I’ll happily support him if he wins the nomination.

                  • Duke Cox says:

                    And there is no doubt, I will pull the lever for Hick if it comes to that.

                     If there is a more loathsome political creature than our dear Cory, someone would have to convince me of it. It has been better than 10 years since I first met and tangled with the up and coming state representative. He was just learning the ropes from Dempsey, Wonstolen, Schnacke and that bunch from the Petroleum Club at that time, and tagging along behind McNulty and Penry.

                    He learned how to advance himself and retain access to the people who had the money. Those lessons served him well when he met Chuck and Dave. He knew what they wanted and how to give it to them. Cory is, in many ways, the perfect Republican legislator. Any connection to the people of Colorado who need government was lost long ago. He has, from the beginning, devoted himself only to the people of Colorado who exploit government. 

                    There is no question. Cory Gardner is bad for Colorado. Colorados’ best future will not be served by continuing to follow Corys’ yellow brick road. It leads to that Faker behind the orange curtain.


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