Republican Congressman Cory Gardner is well beyond the "honeymoon" stage of his initial campaign announcement in late February, which puts us well into the next act of examining his record as an elected official. And it's not just abortion and Personhood that is perking up ears across the country.
Gardner's extreme partisan record on environmental issues is drawing new interest to Colorado's Senate race. Last week, the League of Conservation Voters kicked off a $1 million ad buy criticizing Gardner for his anti-environment record and naming him to their "Dirty Dozen" program. On the heels of that announcement came news this week that the CREDO SuperPAC has included Colorado in its small list of targeted Senate races; CREDO plans to spend at least $500,000 for both TV ads and to hire some 30 organizers.
Both Gardner and the Oil and Gas industry would be right to be a little nervous about the level of support in Colorado from LCV and CREDO, but they may have a far bigger concern on their horizon. Colorado Pols has learned that representatives for Tom Steyer were in Colorado this week to discuss Steyer's potential involvement in both the Senate race and a possible ballot measure related to concerns about fracking safety. Steyer is a retired billionaire investor who is becoming increasingly active in progressive political issues. As the New York Times reported in February:
The donor, Tom Steyer, a Democrat who founded one of the world’s most successful hedge funds, burst onto the national political scene during last year’s elections, when he spent $11 million to help elect Terry McAuliffe governor of Virginia and millions more intervening in a Democratic congressional primary in Massachusetts. Now he is rallying other deep-pocketed donors, seeking to build a war chest that would make his political organization, NextGen Climate Action, among the largest outside groups in the country, similar in scale to the conservative political network overseen by Charles and David Koch.
In early February, Mr. Steyer gathered two dozen of the country’s leading liberal donors and environmental philanthropists to his 1,800-acre ranch in Pescadero, Calif. — which raises prime grass-fed beef — to ask them to join his efforts. People involved in the discussions say Mr. Steyer is seeking to raise $50 million from other donors to match $50 million of his own.
We understand the legislature is furiously working on something that would make a fracking ballot measure unnecessary, but Steyer has openly looked at funding such a measure in California in 2016, and his involvement could certainly change the dynamic here in Colorado — both for Gardner and any potential ballot measure.