During the Democratic presidential primary, Republicans from President Donald Trump on down made no effort to conceal their desire to run against Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2020 general elections–the theory, possibly with merit as Democrats will debate among themselves for evermore, being that Sanders’ hard-left platform would frighten American voters who were disgusted by Trump but not interested in radical change.
In the Democratic primary in Colorado, a similar dynamic played out–Republicans single-mindedly worked to boost underdog Andrew Romanoff in his race against moderate John Hickenlooper, even complaining bitterly about Romanoff’s inability to compete as it became clear the primary would not result in an upset. Key to that strategy was the effort to demoralize base Democrats by highlighting Romanoff’s support for progressive policy goals like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal–both of which Hickenlooper vociferously opposed in his abortive presidential campaign.
How have Republicans adjusted their strategy now that Joe Biden has reeled Democrats back to the Great American Center and John Hickenlooper walloped Green New Dealin’ Andrew Romanoff in the Senate primary?
Apparently they’re just pretending the primary didn’t happen:
GARDNER: People are learning more about what Joe Biden wants to do. He wants to destroy 250,000 oil and gas jobs in Colorado, just like John Hickenlooper. He wants to increase taxes on all Coloradans just like John Hickenlooper. He wants massive regulations and Green New Deals, just like John Hickenlooper, so… [Pols emphasis]
That’s Sen. Cory Gardner on KHOW AM radio a few weeks ago, flat-out fictionalizing Hickenlooper’s position on the Green New Deal–in effect substituting Hickenlooper’s name in the script written for Romanoff. Hickenlooper’s conspicuous lack of support for this litmus test issue for Democratic presidential candidates was a major point of contention in the Senate primary. But it’s more than that: Hickenlooper’s moderation on energy development is such a major part of his brand that Gardner’s contention damages Gardner’s own credibility on a very basic level.
Hickenlooper, as everyone who knows even a little about the man can tell you, does not support the Green New Deal. Plenty of our readers wish Hickenlooper did, but he doesn’t. That’s not Hickenlooper’s position today, and it wasn’t Hick’s position ten years ago. Hickenlooper is also not the climate denier he was painted to be by the left during the primary, and Colorado Democrats who handed Hickenlooper the nomination by a wide margin know that too. But it’s Republicans who seem unable to accept that Bernie Sanders and Andrew Romanoff are not going to be on the ballot in November, and Cory Gardner in particular doesn’t know what to say now that his desired opponent lost the primary.
It’s not Cory Gardner’s only bad sign, but it’s a bad sign.