There is No Cory Gardner Without Donald Trump

Right behind you, Mr. President!

Readers of Colorado Pols are well aware of the Faustian bargain that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) made when he fell in line firmly behind President Trump shortly after the 2016 election and tied his fortunes to the Big Orange Guy ahead of the 2018 election cycle. Any last hope that Gardner had for creating a sliver of daylight between himself and Trump evaporated in February, when the President told a cheering crowd in Colorado Springs that “he’s been with us 100%. There was no waver.”

As the 2020 Election grows ever closer, journalists around the country are catching up on Gardner’s dilemma. As Todd Purdum writes for The Atlantic, Gardner is a prime example of how Republicans nationwide have rolled over completely for Trump:

In the future museum of Never Trumpers turned Ever Trumpers, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado will have pride of place. [Pols emphasis] In 2016, Gardner called Donald Trump a “buffoon,” left the Republican National Convention after one day rather than watching him formally receive the party’s nomination, called for him to drop out of the race after the release of the Access Hollywood tape, and said he would write in Mike Pence’s name on his presidential ballot…

…“The party is now more a cult than a party,” says Norman Ornstein, a veteran congressional scholar at the American Enterprise institute and an Atlantic contributor. “The imperative not to be shunned or excommunicated is overwhelming—and it’s not just fear of Trump or Fox News. All their friends would treat them like apostates too.” GOP incumbents face a pragmatic choice, Ornstein told me: lose their base or risk losing swing voters. “They have all decided to double down on the base, and in Colorado that is an especially problematic choice, given the sizable number of suburban, college-educated voters repelled by Trump.”

Via The Atlantic (5/25/20)

As we wrote in this space last June, Gardner is positively terrified of crossing Trump even though it will likely cost him his seat in the U.S. Senate. In early 2019, Gardner became one of the first Senate Republicans to publicly endorse Trump’s re-election campaign — a remarkable turn of events considering that Gardner claims he didn’t even vote for the Republican Presidential nominee in 2016. In recent years, Gardner’s strategy related to Trump has been to go to ridiculous lengths to just not talk about it.

Bottoms up!

Democratic political adviser Craig Hughes, who managed Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D-Denver) campaign in 2010, is as mystified as everyone else at Gardner’s spinal deficiencies:

“It’s baffling,” Hughes told me. “I don’t know how he wins at this point. He’s the only Republican elected statewide now as it is. It has huge implications. Colorado is a state that for decades has rewarded bipartisan and independent leadership, whether that’s the pragmatic streak of a Michael Bennet or the independent streak of a Gary Hart. I’m convinced that a politician as talented as Gardner could have dared a different path here. There was a way to navigate and be seen as loyal without completely abasing yourself to Donald Trump and everything he does.” [Pols emphasis]

The Yuma Republican could potentially turn things around before November, though you’d have trouble finding someone who would take that bet. Instead of navigating a political future around Trump, Gardner decided instead to go down with the ship.

5 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JohnInDenver says:

    Gardner COULD turn things … but it would require a sudden shift in public statements to show support for moderation (which seems unlikely); independent work toward bi-partisan goals (which McConnell will make basically impossible); and an incredible political campaign staff able to somehow message sufficient commitment to Trump for the hard-core, suspicious right AND a moderate tone to the GHW Bush & Romney Republicans and moderate Independents (both of them). 

    And I suspect it would also require acquiescence to outside groups managing an effective political hatchet job of former Gov. Hickenlooper.


    • Voyageur says:

      Not to be superstitious, but in my lifetime President Thomas Dewey and Hillary Clinton both rode those infallible polls to glory.  If we work our buns off we can beat Gardner and take the Senate.  But all this babble violates the Kenny Rogers Rule — you never count your money when you’re sitting at the table.  There will be time enough for counting when the votings done!

      • JohnInDenver says:

        Yeah, I'm leery of polls — especially when we don't really know what turnout will look like, even with the all mail balloting. I have no clue if it will be the equivalent of 2016, go up a similar amount as the 2014 to 2018 comparison, or (as McDonald of the US Voting Project initially estimated) go up about half the amount of the 2014 to 2018 jump, which would make turnout around 78%. 

        Gardner is probably the best Republican campaigner around Colorado.  He seems to have climbed into visibility, which has turned into campaign funds, and those funds support hiring some of the better campaign staff. 

        It won't be easy … but like Trump, Gardner cannot run as a blank slate for everyone to project their own preferences on.  But he's also working the environment of a substantial divide in the Colorado GOP, working against an increasingly competitive registration between R & D parties, and facing an UA registration going up faster than either (or both) parties.  And that UA population broke about 3 to 2 to Democrats in the past couple of election cycles.

  2. MichaelBowman says:

    But is there a Drumpf without Ann Coulter???

    If you're not following her rant tweets you're missing out: 

  3. kwtree says:

    Tommy Tuberville? Sounds like someone from the late, great Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. 

    The reality is much less pleasant. Alabama Democrats have much to thank Anne Coulter and Donald Trump for….by indulging in petty primary revenge games against Jeff Sessions, they will make it much easier for Doug Jones to defeat him. 

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