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February 21, 2024 01:34 PM UTC

Cory Loves Jerry in CO-04

  • by: Colorado Pols

As Jesse Paul reports for The Colorado Sun, Republican congressional candidate Jerry Sonnenberg has picked up some notable new endorsements in his bid for the GOP nomination in CO-04:

Cory Gardner reentered Colorado’s political conversation Wednesday to endorse former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg in the crowded Republican primary in the state’s 4th Congressional District, a race that includes U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert.

“Jerry Sonnenberg is the conservative conscience of the 4th Congressional District,” Gardner, a former U.S. senator from eastern Colorado who lost his reelection bid in 2020, said in a written statement. “He will be a passionate and dedicated warrior for our nation and our shared conservative values.”

Gardner represented the 4th District from 2011 to 2015 before he was elected to the Senate. He’s mostly shied away from the public spotlight since leaving Congress in early 2021, making his endorsement more notable.

An endorsement from former Sen. Cory Gardner is certainly notable, but its usefulness is debatable. Gardner was last seen in Colorado getting his ass handed to him by Democrat John Hickenlooper in 2020; he has been hard to find since losing his bid for re-election by nearly 10 points. Gardner’s 2014 election to the U.S. Senate was the biggest Republican electoral success in Colorado in at least a decade, but the shine faded quickly; Gardner’s re-election loss followed years of poor polling results and invisibility in his home state that resulted in a curious situation in which an inanimate likeness (Cardboard Cory!) generated more excitement than the actual man himself.

Former State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg

Sonnenberg also picked up the endorsements of former Republicans U.S. Senators Wayne Allard and Hank Brown, both of whom formerly represented CO-04 in previous iterations of the district’s boundaries (as did Gardner). Retiring Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) succeeded Gardner in CO-04 in 2014 but has thus far not indicated a preference among the gazillion Republican challengers for his seat. And although carpetbagging quasi-incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert picked up the endorsement of House Speaker Mike Johnson, that quickly-souring relationship might not count for much.

On the plus side for Sonnenberg, corralling so many former Republican elected officials from the Eastern Plains lets him spin a strong narrative about his own qualifications for Congress. It also should help Sonnenberg make sure his name makes it onto the Primary Election ballot via the caucus process; Sonneberg is one of only two major candidates in CO-04 (along with Ted Harvey) who is NOT collecting petition signatures for ballot access.

Gardner’s endorsement primarily helps Sonnenberg in the traditional northeastern part of CO-04 (Gardner himself hails from Yuma), but to what degree? Sonnenberg is from Sterling, so he presumably has this part of the district locked up.

The new boundaries of CO-04 changed quite a bit in the last round of redistricting, however. Of the 721,000 residents of CO-04, roughly half (355,000) live in the suburbs of Douglas County. Another 15% (108,000) make their homes in Larimer County. While CO-04 is traditionally considered to be a Weld County-focused district, voters from Weld actually only make up about 8% of the total population of CO-04. Does Cory Gardner retain any pull among the exurban Republican voters who will actually decide this primary on June 25th? What we can say for sure is this is the area of the district where Sonnenberg will have to work hardest in order to prevail among the variety of choices offered to CO-04 primary voters.

On balance it probably doesn’t hurt Sonnenberg, but it’s nothing decisive. To find a Gardner endorsement you can call an unequivocal boost, you’ll have to look past Tim Scott in 2024 and Donald Trump in 2020 (though pointedly not in 2016, when Gardner threw Trump under the wheels of the Access Hollywood bus).


5 thoughts on “Cory Loves Jerry in CO-04

  1. I think those are good endorsements (Brown, Gardner, Allard) for Sonnenburg. That said, I'm holding some skepticism about him simply because Douglas County has the most voters in CD4. Flora, Phelan, and Harvey are all from DougCo, or at least have lived there. Not saying I think any of the three are better candidates than Sonnenburg, but the primary is nothing but a numbers game, especially if there are lots of candidates who make the ballot.

    1. Of course. Because those fools will fall for it again. He's probably even got an insurance company envelope to wave before cameras for dramatic effect.

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