'Tis the season for newspaper editorial board endorsements. As always, we want to make clear that we won't be posting links to every endorsement published by every newspaper in Colorado, despite the perennial requests we get each election cycle to do so. There's far too many, and frankly, most of them are not newsworthy. But we did want to bring attention to the Durango Herald's endorsement of Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall this past weekend, which struck us as notable for its unusually strong words about GOP opponent Cory Gardner:
Udall has been relentlessly beating up his opponent over Gardner’s support for “personhood” legislation – similar to Amendment 67 – which would give 14th Amendment rights to each “preborn human person” and in the process ban all abortions and some forms of birth control. Udall’s attacks are becoming repetitive, but the offensive is understandable. Gardner gave him the stick.
The congressman has backed away from Amendment 67 and previous state personhood efforts and has been trying to deny his support for a similar federal push. But he remains a sponsor of the federal Life Begins at Conception Act and his insistence that “there is no federal personhood bill” earned him FactCheck.org’s “Whopper of the Week” award.
Gardner’s dogged support for personhood says one of two things about him. Either his position on women’s rights is far out of the Colorado mainstream or the congressman will say anything for a vote. [Pols emphasis]
Gardner’s appeal is his youthful exuberance – he turned 40 in August – and what Newsweek called “his likeable personality, which helps insulate him from his conservative record in Congress and in the Colorado Legislature before that.” The fact is, though, people espouse extreme ideas, such as “personhood,” either because they are ideologically committed or because they are deeply cynical. Colorado needs neither.
Often it's the case that newspapers will offer consoling words to the candidate they choose not to endorse, especially in a race that's very close–after all, editorial boards think of themselves as representative of the community they serve, and any endorsement in a close race are certain to upset a good percentage of one's readers. Remember also that in most cases, these endorsements are written by editorial boards who have sat down with the candidates and asked them about whatever they think is important. Endorsements represent, among other things, the conclusions of those face-to-face meetings.
We get the feeling reading this that Cory Gardner really failed to impress the Durango Herald editorial board.
Over the last few weeks, Gardner's trustworthiness has taken an enormous hit as the media finally arrived at a consensus that he is not telling the truth about his position on abortion and birth control. Exposure in multiple outlets of both Gardner's continued sponsorship of federal legislation that would have the same effect as the "Personhood" state initiatives he publicly abandoned right after getting into the Senate race, and his broken-record denial "there is no federal Personhood bill" that no one–not even the bill's authors–will back Gardner up on, has created a story that's bigger than the issue of abortion. This is now a story of how voters can't trust Cory Gardner no matter where they stand.
In this long and costly Senate race, many themes have been tested and discarded. Udall's campaign and allies have hammered away at Gardner's position on abortion and birth control, even to the point of criticism, because Gardner opened himself to a devastating attack: first by "acknowledging" a problem, Personhood's potential effects on contraception, that had been known for years, and to many proponents wasn't a problem at all. Then, Gardner's failure to remove himself from federal legislation that everyone except Gardner says is equivalent to the state Personhood abortion bans in its effects, left him vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy–or worse, that his original act of disavowing Personhood was nothing more than a contrivance.
Bottom line: the damage attacking Gardner relentlessly on abortion has done with women voters is critical, but it segues into an even bigger point Democrats need to drive home right now: Gardner's untrustworthiness in general. The recent embarrassing debunking of an ad from Gardner on renewable energy, in which he claims to have "cowrote the law to launch our state's green energy industry" when in fact the law he "cowrote" was repealed in failure having not funded a single project, was a very similar exposure of Gardner just flat-out lying to voters. In the end, it is a general sense that Gardner simply can't be trusted on any issue that could spell his doom on Election Night more than any individual issue. Over the next few weeks, Democrats have a golden opportunity to turn the asset of Gardner's Dealin' Doug smile into his biggest liability. The stage is set.
And if they do that, Udall wins this thing.