Again, Please, Enough With The Cory Gardner Martyrdom

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-ekt).

A column from Colorado Sun reporter Jesse Paul appeared in the much larger forum of the Washington Post yesterday, offering another torrid take on the impending fall of GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado along a theme we’ve been hearing quite a bit the last few days: that Gardner, an “excellent candidate” in his own right, is being set up to lose by President Donald Trump and not Gardner’s own choices:

In 2014, Republican Cory Gardner, a congressman from rural Colorado, parlayed his charm and ability to connect with voters into a Senate seat by defeating Mark Udall, an incumbent Democrat from a Western political dynasty. Liberals feared Gardner’s political talent, and conservatives hoped it would take him far.

Then Donald Trump was elected president. Now, given Trump’s extreme unpopularity in a state whose electorate is generally moving to the left, Colorado Democrats are confident that, come Election Day, they will pick up Gardner’s seat and fill it with the state’s popular former governor, John Hickenlooper…

Making things worse for Gardner is the fact Trump trails Biden by an average of 13 percentage points in Colorado. “Jesus Christ himself couldn’t overperform Trump by double digits,” said Tyler Sandberg, a Republican operative. [Pols emphasis]

It’s a narrative that Republicans seem determined to shape now, with hope of actually saving Gardner’s seat realistically gone for his local supporters and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC)–the proof being in the money flowing to battleground states as Democrats work to run up the score in a growing wave. If Gardner can’t be saved, then perhaps he can be martyred in defeat with a cover story that blames Trump, and in so doing preserves Republican hopes in Colorado that a comeback may be possible in future years against the state’s leftward political trajectory.

We give Jesse Paul credit in this column for laying out some of the most damning moments in Gardner’s embrace of Trump, from Gardner’s initial denunciation of Trump in October of 2016 saying “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women” to Gardner’s metamorphosis after Trump’s victory into one of the President’s most steadfast supporters. The problem with this analysis is blithely dismissing Gardner’s transformation as inevitable. The truth is, Gardner’s decisions to stand closely with Trump through innumerable scandals, impeachment, and the disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic were voluntary choices–not coerced by base GOP support for Trump or any other factor.

To suggest that Gardner had “no choice” but to fall in line behind Trump after Trump won the 2016 elections is a major misreading of Colorado’s political trends since Gardner narrowly won his seat in 2014. In reality, Gardner needed to move to the center from the very beginning of his Senate term in order to have any chance of re-election in 2020, but Gardner’s agenda of hard-right low-information crusades against the Affordable Care Act and social wedge issues like abortion made that impossible. Trump didn’t force Gardner to the right, Trump simply made Gardner’s pre-existing agenda toxic by giving it the chance of actually becoming law–a threat voters in Colorado responded to in 2018 by throwing out Republicans at every level of elected office.

The point here is that Gardner is not some kind of political prodigy brought to earth by factors beyond his control. One of the biggest reasons Gardner’s election to the U.S. Senate in 2014 has inspired such lasting division and enmity within the state’s political class is that Gardner’s politics are so at odds with a majority of Colorado voters that his narrow victory is broadly regarded as a swindle–deception committed by Gardner and many local influencers that allowed Gardner to win a race he should not have won. Since that time, Gardner has had many opportunities to chart a different course for himself, in the mold of respected Western GOP Senators like John McCain or even Mitt Romney–and he never even tried.

For Cory Gardner, a collection of contradictions from the beginning, this is comeuppance a decade in the making. The reason is simple: for all the credit Gardner gets for being a “great candidate,” he’s really not. At least not for Colorado. Gardner’s agenda became more out of step with the state he represents with each election since 2014, and Gardner’s energetic wunderkind persona was effectively turned against him in 2020 by a laconic, more authentic John Hickenlooper.

For Colorado Republicans, any road back starts with understanding what Cory Gardner did wrong, not revising history to salvage Cory Gardner’s reputation. Trump tops the ticket, but Gardner made choices entirely on his own that brought him to ruin.

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32 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. kickshot says:

    Martyrs always lose.

  2. unnamed says:

    Stay the Course Senator.  They're thanking you now.

  3. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    Jesse Paul should have interviewed Cardboard Cory to get maximum clarity.

  4. Golden Girl says:

    Cardboard Cory has made more public forums than the real Cory Gardner who avoids, deflects and is deaf to his constituents.  Excuses ring hollow. 

  5. NOV GOP meltdown says:

    I remember when Cory waved a piece of paper while falsely claiming it is a health insurance cancellation notice for his family and then refused to show it to anyone.

    I remember when Cory claimed there is no federal personhood amendment when at the same time he was a cosponsor of the life begins at conception act.

    I remember Cory's votes to kill Obamacare, which covers pre-existing conditions. I remember when Cory clearly stated in a congressional campaign that he supports health insurance exclusions for pre-existing conditions. And then recently he wrote a bogus 2 sentence  bill that claims to cover those with pre-existing conditions so he can window dress it in his campaign.

    It's simple. Cory Gardner is a fucking liar and it turned off a lot of Coloradans. Good riddance. 

  6. emarquez says:

    I predict Drumpf sets up a government in exile where he can continue to grift off his acolytes, promising a glorious return that will never happen.

    • kickshot says:

      I predict that he's going to prison for a long, long time.

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        I wouldn’t automatically agree that Trump is going to prison. But, if he loses, it’s a safe bet to state that he WILL face accusations in New York State regarding bank fraud, tax fraud, and insurance fraud.

        In order to pay legal expenses, I think he will continue to “grift” off the gullible, as noted by emarquez. 

        All this assumes that Putin still considers Trump to be useful and doesn’t send his agents to ensure that Trump’s mouth is shut…..permanently.

      • MADCO says:

        It could be both, and more fundraising money laundering griftiness.

  7. Republican 36 says:

    Pols, I agree with you.  Gardner is not a great candidate and his performance over the past decade proves it.  Also, Dick Wadhams is a smart campaign consultant on the Republican side and even though he called Hickenlooper one of the worst candidates in Colorado history, he knows that isn’t true and he’s well aware of Gardner’s shortcomings.  He just can’t say it and keep his cred within the party.

    A competent candidate must do three things to win an election and Gardner has failed at all three of them.  The first item in a campaign is to introduce yourself to the voter which is especially true in U.S. Senate races in Colorado.  Between 2014 and 2020 there are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of new voters in Colorado who have no idea who Gardner is and his ducking the media and the public for six years didn’t help his cause.  Because he didn’t do this, he was vulnerable to attacks.

    Second, a candidate needs to draw a contrast between himself/herself and the opposing candidate.  Gardner and the independent groups supporting him put all their eggs in one basket – the ethics attack on Gov. Hickenlooper – and it didn’t work for the simple reason our former governor was in office from 2003 through January of 2019, first as mayor of Denver and then governor.  The public had a deep knowledge of who Gov. Hickenlooper is and his character, plus the ethics allegations were no big deal.  Apparently, he didn’t pay for one flight to the east coast to attend the christening of the USS Colorado submarine and then paid, but not enough, for a trip to Italy.

    Third, any candidate, whether he/she is an incumbent or a challenger must communicate to the public why he/she should be elected or reelected to the office he/she is seeking.  On this count Gardner has completely failed.  He has not said a word – not one – about what his plans are for the next six years or what he wants to accomplish on our behalf.  

    Sticking like Gorilla glue to Trump certainly hasn’t helped Gardner but his campaign was very poorly conceived.  Both he and his campaign team have committed one of the worst cases of political dereliction of duty in the history of major statewide races in Colorado.

    Gov. Hickenlooper, regardless of any imperfections, has developed and run a good campaign that has met the three requirements mentioned above to win on November 3rd.

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      "Between 2014 and 2020 there are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of new voters in Colorado who have no idea who Gardner is and his ducking the media and the public for six years didn’t help his cause"

      In fairness to the sleaze bag, he made memorable appearance at that town hall which turned into a shit show in Durango a couple of years ago.

      He would never try anything like that again.

      • Republican 36 says:

        He was shamed into attending the townhall in Durango and there was a long line of people waiting to meet with Gov. Hickenlooper and Gardner.  If I remember correctly, Sen. Bennet was there too.  The attendees were there, in part, to show their anger at Gardner for failing to stay in touch with them.  As President Truman said:  If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      What nobody, Republican or Democrat, talks about are his accomplishments.  When moving the 20 people from BLM to Grand Junction and voting to acquit Trump are your highlights then it is small wonder that he went the slinging mud route except he was bewailing Hickenlooper's ethics while turning a blind eye to Trump's.  Wrong issue to focus on with Trump in the White House.

    • JohnInDenver says:

      re: " Both he and his campaign team have committed one of the worst cases of political dereliction of duty in the history of major statewide races in Colorado. "

       

      The competition is very VERY stiff for that award.  But having a final statewide election defeat more comprehensive than Both Ways Bob will push him up in the rankings.

  8. Meiner49er says:

    Quite honestly, who cares whether it's Trump's fault or Gardner's own? All that matters is that his defeat is crushing enough that we never hear from the likes of him in Colorado politics, ever again. One used car(dboard) salesman was enough, thank you.

  9. Duke Cox says:

    His latest TV ad touts his newspaper endorsements. There are several portrayed in the ad. However, if you check the small print, they all seem to be from one paper…the Colorado Springs Gazette.

    Repubs love to martyr their losers…then give them a job at Tims' Home for Unloved Republican Politicians. Maybe with his winning smile, he will fit in at the front desk of Fosters' Maverick Hotel.

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