Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is rolling out endorsements from fellow Republican Senators and spending a lot of money on Facebook to promote them in an effort to raise more money for his own re-election bid. For obvious reasons, Gardner’s campaign has been less enthusiastic about announcing one particular endorsement.
This week Gardner promoted endorsements/fundraising pleas from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Gardner’s campaign is also spending money promoting an endorsement from Arkansas Sen. Tom “Send in the Troops” Cotton; curiously, Gardner’s campaign hasn’t yet mentioned this endorsement outside of its Facebook ad spending disclosure.
Using Cotton’s endorsement in any capacity is a strange choice after the Arkansas Republican made national headlines last week for a fascist Op-Ed published in The New York Times in which Cotton called for an armed military response — “send in the troops” — in response to nationwide protests related to the murder of George Floyd. The Times later amended a note on the Op-Ed, writing “the tone of the essay in places is needlessly harsh and falls short of the thoughtful approach that advances useful debate.”
Gardner hasn’t said a peep about President Trump’s militant rhetoric in response to the protests, and now he’s throwing in his lot with a controversial Republican Senator who wants armed soldiers roaming American streets. By not making any other mention of Cotton’s support, Gardner was probably hoping that nobody would notice outside of the people targeted with the Facebook ad.
The video message from Cotton also contains a narrative about Democrat John Hickenlooper that is outright false. Cotton says that Hickenlooper “is running from the law to avoid ethics charges for using state funds to fund his lavish lifestyle.” As The Denver Post writes today in an editorial about Hickenlooper’s ethics charges, Cotton’s description is nowhere close to the truth:
We don’t believe Hickenlooper was trying to undermine the system, or disrespect the commission, or avoid accountability. In fact, the governor has been extremely transparent. He has provided details about what he did and did not pay for and he has spoken publicly about the trips. And he is now committed to paying whatever fees are imposed by the commission out of his own pocket.
Also, we are confident that Hickenlooper is an ethical public servant, albeit one who has made mistakes. The ethics commission didn’t find any evidence that MDC Holdings or Fiat Chrysler had business before the state when Hickenlooper accepted these “gifts.” We’ve not seen evidence of a quid-pro-quo despite Hickenlooper’s opponents’ best efforts to paint the governor as a corporate-shill whose decision making is compromised by his friendships and acquaintances with wealthy businessmen and women.
Hickenlooper did need to exercise more caution when traveling to avoid these infractions, but we also think there is ample evidence that he tried to comply with the spirit and letter of the law.
“Using state funds to fund his lavish lifestyle”? Yeah, not so much.
But the biggest issue with Cotton’s endorsement video is that it creates another problem that Gardner didn’t need; it is now perfectly acceptable for reporters to ask Gardner if he agrees with Cotton that armed soldiers should be patrolling our streets in response to protests about police brutality.
Cotton’s video had better raise a LOT of money for Gardner, because there is a considerable downside to his public support.