Cory Gardner Cashing Big Amway Pyramid Scheme Checks

The Colorado Independent’s Robin Bravender reports on the big donations by the billionaire DeVos family of Michigan to Sen. Cory Gardner’s re-election campaign this year, a substantial piece of his $2 million Q1 that was heavily reliant on out-of-state money. In the case of the DeVoses, that money has a backstory:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s family members spent $22,400 so far this year to help fund Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner’s re-election campaign, according to federal campaign finance data released this week.

DeVos’s in-laws — Michigan conservative donors and heirs to the Amway fortune — have plowed cash into the coffers of Republican Senate candidates across the country who are up for re-election in 2020, the records show.

DeVos’s husband, Dick, has three siblings — Doug, Daniel and Suzanne — each of whom contributed $5,600 to Gardner’s campaign in March. Doug’s wife, Maria DeVos, also contributed $5,600 to the campaign. That’s the maximum contribution allowed per election cycle under federal election law.

Although it was discussed to a limited extent during Betsy DeVos’ rocky confirmation hearing as Education Secretary, when it comes to tens of thousands of dollars in Amway money going directly into Cory Gardner’s campaign coffers the facts should be clearly understood. Amway, the multilevel marketing operation that made the DeVos family billionaires, is arguably one of the most exploitative business models in the history of American capitalism. Sold to naive new “independent business owners” as a surefire path to financial independence, the reality is that half of the “business owners” in the Amway pyramid scheme lose everything they paid in to join– and the ones who “make money” make somewhere around $200 per month on average, all the while alienating friends and family who are reduced to nothing more than increasingly desperate sales prospects.

The DeVos family’s primary method of avoiding consequences over the predatory reality of their multibillion-dollar pyramid scheme has been to become major financial supporters of the Republican Party. Lavish political giving from the profits reaped via their exploitative business model propelled the DeVoses into the upper ranks of the GOP elite–squelching criticism of their business and resulting among other things in the comically unqualified Betsy DeVos’ appointment as Secretary of Education by Donald Trump. Sen. Gardner was an enthusiastic supporter of DeVos, which makes sense after the DeVos family donated almost $50,000 to him ahead of his vote to confirm her.

In a world with more accountability than the one we currently reside in, the DeVoses would be vilified for the way they made their billions–and everyone who has benefited from their ill-gotten gains would be obliged to return the money and apologize to the victims of the DeVos family’s pyramid scheme.

At the very least, it would be nice to hear Sen. Gardner’s thoughts–since he’s at the top of the pyramid.

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Raise Your Hand if You Are NOT Running for U.S. Senate

We’re gonna need a bigger car

The Democratic field for U.S. Senate in 2020 hasn’t quite reached into the same clown car numbers as the 2016 GOP Senate field, but we’re getting closer with every week.

Two more Democrats entered the race for U.S. Senate on Tuesday — former U.S. Attorney John Walsh and former CO-7 candidate Dan Baer — which pushes the total number of officially-filed candidates into double digits for the first time. In early 2016, more than 13 Republican candidates were jockeying for the GOP nomination. Five names would eventually make it onto the ballot for the June 2016 Republican Primary (Darryl Glenn, Jack Graham, Robert Blaha, Jon Keyser, and Ryan Frazier), with Glenn ultimately emerging as the GOP nominee to run a no-hope General Election campaign against incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver).

A few more Democratic hopefuls may yet join the 2020 Senate field in the coming weeks — former House Majority Leader Alice Madden is expected to announce her campaign sometime soon — but the sheer number of Democratic hopefuls may actually be pushing this race closer to a tipping point. Unlike Colorado Republicans, who can still be choosing between a half-dozen candidates in a Primary Election, Democrats traditionally congeal behind one or two top contenders. As we’ve said before, the likely Democratic nominee in 2020 still isn’t in the race yet.

Here’s how we’d break down the field as of mid-April:

TIER 1Joe NeguseEd PerlmutterJohn Hickenlooper
The odds-on favorite for the 2020 Democratic nomination will likely come from one of these “big three.” None of the current candidates have the political gravitas — a combination of personality, policy ideas, and fundraising ability — that Neguse, Perlmutter or Hickenlooper can offer. It is unlikely that two of these potential candidates will run, let alone all three, so the first one in the pool will be the frontrunner.

TIER 2: Mike Johnston
Johnston holds this spot by virtue of his $1.8 million fundraising quarter. Johnston won’t rise further unless he can convince Democrats that he has a higher ceiling than his third-place finish in the 2018 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary would indicate.

TIER 3: Andrew Romanoff, Alice Madden, John Walsh
Each of these three candidates could eventually move up in the pecking order. Each could also be out of the race before the end of the year — none of them have a chance if any of the “Tier 1” candidates join the field.

TIER 4: Dan Baer
Baer showed decent fundraising chops during his brief run in CO-7, but he’s otherwise nowhere close to the candidates above him on this list.

TIER 5: Stephany Rose Spaulding, Trish Zornio, Lorena Garcia
Nobody on this list will impact the Democratic field one way or the other.

TIER NOPE: Derrick Blanton, Dustin Leitzel, Keith Pottratz, Diana Bray
Good luck picking any of these people out of a lineup.

 

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Cory Gardner’s Curiously Unremarkable Fundraising Numbers

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

As Justin Wingerter reports this afternoon for the Denver Post, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) announced fundraising numbers for the first quarter of 2019 that are curiously unremarkable:

Gardner raised $2 million in the first three months of 2019 and has more than $3.4 million on hand, his campaign said Thursday…

…“Senator Gardner’s strong fundraising quarter is another indicator of the wide range of support and confidence in the job he’s doing and the belief in his work to get things done for the state in a bipartisan manner,” said Casey Contres, the senator’s campaign manager.

“Strong fundraising,” “wide range of support,” “bipartisan,” blah, blah, blah…

These are things that your campaign spokesperson says after any fundraising period, but a $2 million quarter is milquetoast for the most endangered Republican incumbent Senator in 2020. Gardner raised $1.4 million in about a month when he first entered the race for U.S. Senate in Spring 2014. By comparison, incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-Boulderish) raised a little more than $2 million in the first quarter of 2014. That was 5 years ago.

Gardner is not just the most endangered Senate incumbent this cycle — he’s also coming off a two-year run as Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). The whole point of being Chair of the NRSC is to strengthen your fundraising connections; instead, Gardner barely outraised Democratic challenger Mike Johnston ($1.8 million).

Note that Gardner is the only Republican candidate for Senate in Colorado, while Johnston has a half-dozen Primary opponents. Candidates who don’t have to worry about a Primary normally do better in fundraising; Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly, for example, pulled down more than $4 million after announcing his Senate campaign on Feb. 14. Gardner’s fundraising quarter is also remarkably dull considering that he already has a number of big-name surrogates working on his behalf.

Gardner has strung together some terrible weeks into a pretty bad run, lowlighted by the Denver Post’s jaw-dropping UN-dorsement in March. In the midst of so many troubles, a $2 million fundraising quarter is…fine.

The problem for Gardner is that “fine” isn’t going to get him re-elected.

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Gardner Down on Herman Cain–But Not Because He’s a Lech!

Herman Cain.

CNN reports on the latest Donald Trump-engineered minefield for Republicans up for election in 2020 to navigate, the forthcoming nomination of two controversial figures to serve on the board of the Federal Reserve: conservative columnist Stephen Moore formerly of the Wall Street Journal, and more controversially Herman Cain, the 2012 presidential candidate whose campaign collapsed under the dual revelations of Cain’s gross incompetence and extensive womanizing.

The concern over Cain in particular has grown so great that it appears Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking the rare step of allowing Republican Senators to publicly grouse:

During Tuesday afternoon’s Senate Republican lunch, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advised senators concerned about Trump’s selection of former presidential candidate and pizza executive Herman Cain and conservative economic commentator Stephen Moore to share their views with the White House now, before Trump officially moves forward with the nominations, a source familiar with the remarks told CNN…

Aiming to avoid a public fight over the confirmation, some Republicans hope to persuade Trump to reconsider ahead of Cain’s official nomination.

The problem, as Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado discovered shortly afterward, is that the “fight” is already public:

“No,” Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado quickly responded when asked if he would support Cain.

But, says Sen. Gardner, and this is a key point:

“It’s not about his past. [Pols emphasis] It’s about who I think should be on the board,” the senator explained. “So that’s that.”

Unfortunately “that’s that” isn’t a satisfactory explanation in the least for why Sen. Gardner would oppose Cain’s nomination, yet specifically exclude Cain’s “past” from his reasoning. But there is an explanation for Gardner being cagey: in October of 2016, after the tape of now-President Trump bragging about his ability as a television star to sexually assault women surfaced to bipartisan condemnation, Sen. Gardner called on Trump to pull out of the race, saying “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.” In January, Gardner endorsed Trump’s re-election in 2020, saying he “likes” the President and thinks Colorado should get the chance to like him too. Gardner has yet to offer an explanation for this, uh change of heart that would reassure women voters who took him at his word the first time.

But once Gardner let Trump off the hook he can’t really condemn Herman Cain, can he? Or anybody else.

It’s kind of a problem.

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The Colorado Springs Gazette is Very Silly

Last September, we took note in this space of a rather absurd editorial from the Colorado Springs Gazette which lambasted Colorado media outlets for not doing more to run with a story that very clearly was not a story unless you were a Republican political operative desperate for something to use to attack Democrat Jared Polis. The Springs Gazette editorial also took particular pains to bash 9News reporter/anchor Kyle Clark as a “liberal political activist” on account of the fact that Clark refused to report more on obviously-misleading claims against Polis; you’ll see why this is again relevant in a moment.

On Monday, the Gazette took another step toward firmly establishing itself as the Weekly World News of Colorado media outlets when it appropriated a landmark editorial from the Denver Post and applied it to State Sen. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs). About one month ago, the Post ran a stunning editorial retracting its 2014 endorsement of Republican Cory Gardner for U.S. Senate after Gardner’s indefensible flip-flop in support of President Trump’s “emergency declaration” for wall-building money. The Gazette took that idea from the Post and used it to form a poorly-worded retraction of its own endorsement of Lee last October. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The Gazette is apoplectic about Lee’s votes on a whole host of issues, from National Popular Vote legislation to Senate Bill 181, which it breathlessly proclaims will shuttle in the end of times in Colorado:

The measure threatens hundreds of thousands of good jobs and will almost certainly cause a long-term statewide recession.

“Almost certainly cause a long-term statewide recession.” That’s a bit much.

The Gazette also joins conservative Republicans who have completely lost their minds over a bill about sex education in Colorado:

Lee voted for a comprehensive statewide sex education bill that removes local control from decisions about sex education curricula. According to Lee, localities should hobble oil and gas production but have no say over their children’s education.

Um, yeah…that’s not what the sex ed bill does, but that was a neat segue!

The Gazette is predictably irritated about the passage of so-called “red flag” legislation, which generated this paragraph about how the newspaper can prove it is nevertheless not supportive of a recall election for Lee because another lawmaker read its editorial this one time:

One of our editorials against the bill reminded readers how District 11 voters recalled former Senate President John Morse for supporting unpopular gun laws. Lee responded by deliberately misrepresenting our editorial in a speech on the Senate floor. Though we have publicly — in writing — opposed recalls built on mere policy conflicts, Lee falsely accused us of “threatening” him with a recall. The written record shows we did no such thing. State Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, proved Lee’s misrepresentation by reading our editorial into the record.

The Gazette is here attempting to defend its March 19 editorial opposing the “red flag” legislation, which included this ominous language:

Today, Democratic Sen. Pete Lee represents District 11. The Gazette’s editorial board endorsed him, respecting his wisdom. We suspect he will use that wisdom to oppose Senate Bill 1177, avoiding a recall, [Pols emphasis] protecting his political future, and keeping District 11 a Democratic seat.

You really don’t need to read between the lines here.

In its un-endorsement of Lee on Monday, the Gazette also made sure to inexplicably attack media partner 9News once again. In discussing Lee’s initial support for House Bill 1030, the newspaper writes:

Democrat-friendly Channel 9 news anchor Kyle Clark texted confusion and surprise.

Even faux Democrat journalist Kyle Clark was baffled; that’s how you know it’s bad!

Let’s wrap this up and get to the Gazette’s conclusion, which is of course gramatically incorrect.

We cannot take it any more. The Gazette takes endorsements seriously, spending countless hours assessing the qualities of candidates, trying to make useful and informed recommendations. A large and growing body of evidence tells us we were wrong about Pete Lee.

“We cannot take it anymore.” One word, not two. The correct way to write this would be as follows:

We cannot take the Gazette editorial board seriously anymore. And neither should you.

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Does Cory Gardner Think “Windmills Cause Cancer” Too?

Sen. Cory Gardner (R), giving himself cancer in a 2014 campaign ad.

CNN reports on remarks from President Donald Trump at a Washington, D.C. fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee yesterday–in which Trump goes off on a tangent about the horrors of wind power that we have to think would make our allegedly pro-wind power Sen. Cory Gardner blush:

“Hillary wanted to put up wind,” said President Donald Trump at a fundraiser for Republicans in Washington Tuesday, kicking off an extended riff about the evils of windmills — wind turbines, more accurately — and the inadequacy of wind energy. It’s worth looking at in full since it’s clearly becoming part of his stump speech and feeds into his larger distrust of renewable energy and his mocking of climate change…

Among Trump’s false claims yesterday about wind turbines was the baseless assertion that “if you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75% in value.” Nobody knows where Trump got that figure, which is 10% higher than he gave in another setting–but it doesn’t matter because neither number has any basis in reality.

From there, it only gets worse:

Trump: “And they say the noise causes cancer. You told me that one, OK.” (Then he made circles with his hands and a noise with his mouth.) “You know the thing makes so…”

It’s not clear who it was who told this to Trump, but there’s no evidence to back it up. There are frustrations with noise from wind turbines and those have led to reports of things like insomnia and dizziness among some people who live near wind turbines. Scientific studies have not identified any human health risk.

And if “noise causes cancer” isn’t enough for you, next came a statement that will come as a big surprise to thousands of Coloradans who work in the wind power industry:

Trump: “No, wind’s not so good and you have no idea how expensive it is to make those things. They’re all made in China and Germany, by the way, just in case you, we don’t make them here, essentially.” [Pols emphasis]

The wind industry has been on a tear. The fastest-growing occupation in the US in 2017 was wind turbine technician, although it’s still a small part of the economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 105,000 Americans are employed in the wind industry across all 50 states, according to the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group…

Here in Colorado, four production plants owned by Vestas Wind Systems employ some 3,500 people from Windsor to Pueblo. Not all wind turbines installed in the U.S. are made in the U.S., and parts from across the world go into turbines that are made here–but either way it’s absolute nonsense to claim that turbines don’t provide American jobs.

Of course, the fact that Donald Trump tells lies is not exactly breaking news. The Washington Post released an analysis Monday showing that Trump has made a practically inconceivable 9,451 false claims in the last 800 days. But in the particular case of savaging the wind power industry, there should be someone in the GOP willing to stand up and call Trump out: Cory Gardner of Colorado, who made such a big deal of his support for wind energy on the campaign trail in 2014. Gardner’s recent cozying up to Trump ahead of their mutual bid for re-election in 2020 has included no serious attempt at reconciling Trump’s immoderate words with Gardner’s allegedly more reasonable positions on a wide range of issues, including renewable energy.

With all of this in mind, it’s time to ask the question: does Cory Gardner think wind turbines–in particular the “noise they make”–cause cancer? And if the answer is no, and we assume it is, the next question is this: what would Trump have to lie about to lose Gardner’s support? Trump’s treatment of women wasn’t enough, the North Korean debacle wasn’t enough–not even the national emergency Gardner was certain he opposed before it was ordered.

There must be something Gardner cares about enough stand up to Trump, but this once again isn’t it.

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Cory Gardner on Ken Buck: “We need him. I need him. This country needs him.”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

At last weekend’s Colorado Republican Central Committee meeting, Senator Cory Gardner gave Congressman Ken Buck such a full-throated endorsement that his voice almost cracked.

Nominating Buck for Colorado Republican party Chair, Gardner praised his experience and his fundraising and organizing ability before concluding simply, “We need him. I need him. This country needs him.”

“It’s about our federal government. It’s about all of us. It’s about making sure we are prepared for redistricting and reapportionment. It’s about making sure we raise the money and the resources so we have the dollars to fight the fight. Ken Buck has been in the U.S. Attorney’s Office He’s been Attorney General [he hasn’t] He’s been a district attorney. He’s been in the US Congress. He knows what it takes to bring people together across the four corners of the state. From rural Colorado to urban Colorado and everywhere in between. Ken Buck knows how to organize a party. He knows how to bring the grassroots together. He knows how to bring the people who are going to fight for President Trump together. He knows how to win Colorado in 2020, he knows how to win Colorado in the Senate. He knows how to make sure Hillary Clinton- Guess What? Last Democrat to win Colorado- that’s what’s going to happen. Because Ken Buck’s a fighter. We need him. I need him. This country needs him. And I’m proud to second the nomination of Ken Buck to be our party chair.”

Coming from the highest profile Republican in the room, Gardner’s endorsement helped Buck secure his victory over Rep. Susan Beckman. Three days later, Buck made national news for comparing a lesbian mom to a Nazi to her face during a House Judiciary hearing on the Equality Act.

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Johnston Raises Big Bucks Against Gardner

Former Sen. Michael Johnston.

RealVail reports on the big fundraising numbers just reported by Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michael Johnston, one of a growing pack of contenders itching to take on vulnerable GOP incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner next year:

Vail native and now Denver resident Mike Johnston, who says he’s not accepting any donations from political action committees, set a new record for of $1.8 million for the first quarter of 2019 as he seeks the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020.

The Johnston campaign claims that total, which must be fully reported in detail to the Federal Election Commission by April 15, is “the most ever raised in Colorado by a non-incumbent in their initial quarter.”

That’s a head-turning pile of money any way you slice it, and a strong indicator of the excitement among Democrats looking to flip this seat back to blue in a state that looks politically conducive to doing just that in 2020. One caveat we’ll note in the particular case of Johnston, whose out-of-state financial support from the corporate education reform crowd in previous races has been good for a splashy initial showing but then leveled off as the campaign progressed.

That means we’ll be watching for both sustained financial support as well as signs of bonafide local momentum to underpin Johnston’s big initial fundraising haul. With that said, Johnston has set the bar very high for this marquee 2020 race–and it needs to be, in order to start winnowing down what’s become an unwieldy pack of candidates.

But the real takeaway is the big, earnest money out there to take on Cory Gardner.

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Trump Pulls Rug From Under Gardner on Health Care

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

After the report on the investigation into the 2016 elections by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was given to the Justice Department, leading to a terse memo from Attorney General William Barr that has at least for the moment alleviated the immediate threat of impeachment of President Donald Trump over the still-unreleased report’s conclusions, Trump immediately started pushing hard on a fresh effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act–a program that has hung on tenaciously despite numerous attempts to repeal and a number of successful attempts to weaken President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.

Well, as CNN reports today, the President is abandoning this latest campaign as quickly as it began:

President Donald Trump on Monday night backed away from his push for a vote on an Obamacare replacement until after the 2020 elections, bowing to the political reality that major health care legislation cannot pass in the current Congress.

Trump’s statements come a week after his administration announced that it now agreed with a judge’s ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be scrapped. The opinion was a dramatic reversal from the administration’s previous stance that only portions of the act could not be defended…

“The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare. In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare. Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House. It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America,” Trump declared in a series of tweets. “Also, Republicans will always support Pre-Existing Conditions. The Republican Party will be known as the Party of Great HealtCare. Meantime, the USA is doing better than ever & is respected again!”

Between now and the 2020 elections, there is a more-than-zero chance that the Affordable Care Act will be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. In that event, it would be crucial for a replacement plan to be quickly passed into law to avoid the loss of health coverage for some 20 million Americans–including hundreds of thousands in Colorado–who depend on the ACA today. By punting the issue until after the election, any such disruption would be overwhelmingly blamed on Republicans who have been trying to tear the law down from its inception. Indeed, the vote by the GOP majority in Congress to zero out the tax penalty for not obtaining insurance is central to the latest legal challenge against the law, arguing that without the “mandate” the ACA isn’t functional.

If the ACA is upheld after this latest challenge, its severely compromised present state still threatens to collapse the whole system–damage done incrementally through both neglect and purposeful actions like zeroing out the mandate and cutting off key subsidies to insurance companies. Action needs to be taken in good faith to shore up the ACA now, not dismantling it by the legislative equivalent of throwing spitwads. Over two years into the Trump presidency, it’s simply not enough to blame the previous administration for these ongoing challenges. The voters stopped buying that in 2018 with clear results.

Next to Trump himself, the Republican perhaps most imperiled by this turn of events on health care in the whole nation is Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. A combination of timing and deliberate strategy has left Gardner much more exposed on this issue than other Republican Senators up for re-election in 2020. In 2010, Gardner’s campaign for Congress was basically a single-issue assault on the Affordable Care Act. In Congress, Gardner repeatedly leveled misleading attacks about “hundreds of thousands of Coloradans losing their coverage” even as the ACA drove the rate of uninsured in Colorado to historic lows.

And back in 2015, Cory Gardner promised that if “Obamacare” was overturned, Republicans would be ready:

The Republicans will have plan in place if the ruling is for the plaintiffs. Our plan will be ready to go. And this president then will have to decide whether he wants to stand with our plan to make sure that we have an answer for the American people, or if the wants to try to inflict pain on the American people. [Pols emphasis]

Today those words would apply perfectly, wouldn’t they? But Gardner can never use them. Over and over since Trump’s election in 2016, Gardner has expressed support for Republican replacements for the Affordable Care Act–replacements that either never got past the drafting stage or were voted down because of the “pain” they would “inflict” on the American people in the form of millions of Americans losing their coverage.

You know, the one thing Gardner said he didn’t want to happen. But he voted yes anyway.

Cory Gardner didn’t have to make opposing the ACA the centerpiece of his career in federal office. He didn’t have to lie about Coloradans losing their coverage in 2013. He didn’t have to promise a Republican replacement that would protect Coloradans as well as the ACA has, then vote for legislation that would actually strip Coloradans of their coverage the way Gardner falsely claimed the ACA had done. All of these were deliberate political choices made by a politician who calculated that he could win elections this way.

As of now, Gardner has nothing to show for it. Only hard questions he can’t answer truthfully.

And eight wasted years.

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Cory Gardner Applauds Ken Buck’s Call for Recalls

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Congressman Ken Buck gave a fiery campaign speech at the Colorado Republicans Central Committee meeting Saturday. Cheered on by U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, Buck hit all the usual red meat issues: guns, abortion, oil and gas, before delivering the coup de grace: a call for recalls.

Buck dared Democrats to “come and take” his guns, invoking Charlton Heston by saying they’d only get them from his “cold dead hands.” He claimed Democrats also want to “kill babies now after birth, while we want to stand up for life at every stage of life.”

Then he mentioned the failed anti-fracking ballot initiative Proposition 112, which Republicans have been claiming shows opposition to an oil and gas safety regulation bill moving through the state legislature.

“They want to shut down the oil & gas industry. We need to remind them [Democrats] that we won Proposition 112 and we need to teach them how to spell “RECALL.”

As he belted out his punchline, “we need to teach them how to spell “R-E-C-A-L-L,” the applause came not only from the audience, but from the three other Republicans who had just endorsed him for party chair: Regent Heidi Ganahl, District Attorney George Brauchler, and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner.

Buck’s speech did its job; the Colorado GOP Central Committee members elected him Chairman. Buck narrowly defeated State Representative Susan Beckman, who had broad support from her colleagues in the legislature, including House Minority Leader Patrick Neville who introduced her.

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Cory Gardner Hosting $500 Breakfast at Glenmoor Country Club this Friday

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Glenmoor Country Club

UPDATE: Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon, who is a member of the fundraiser’s host committee, responded to a request for comment. Commissioner Laydon also said he’s excited about the commitment Gardner has made to pursue infrastructure projects that are important to the residents of Douglas County. He continued,

“I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of him in terms of engaging all of his constituents in Colorado. My understanding of Cory is that he would like to engage with the public in Colorado and make sure that those voices are heard.”

Asked if the senator’s lack of public appearances is a concern to him as a public official, Laydon replied,

I think that has been a concern shared by many and that I think Senator Gardner also shares. What’s really exciting for me is to see him really hear those voices and those concerns and to make a concerted effort to show up and to listen and I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of him.”

Sen. Cory Gardner returns to Colorado on Friday, but he’s bringing Washington with him. He’s hosting a fundraiser breakfast with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) at a country club in Cherry Hills Village.

Gardner, who is under fire from his constituents for not holding a public event since September of 2017, is spending his time on high-dollar donor events: he’s held at least four since the beginning of the year, all in Washington, DC.

A pair of powerhouse law firms hosted luncheons for him in January. In February all the members of the Senate GOP leadership, including Majority Whip Thune, joined Gardner for his “Campaign Kick-off.”

Just yesterday, the Gardner campaign invited DC’s high rollers to an undisclosed location to have margaritas…for $500.

(more…)

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Cory Gardner: “A Warrior For President Trump”

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

A fascinating story from the Colorado Sun’s John Frank today on the three candidates running to be the next chair of the Colorado Republican Party–a daunting position being vacated by outgoing chair Jeff Hays following the worst defeat for the GOP in this state since the Roosevelt era. One of the principal fault lines with the Republican Party remains loyalty to President Donald Trump, with the grassroots firmly backing the President versus a party elite who spurned Trump in 2016 and has spent the last two years trying to live that misjudgment down.

Today, you surely won’t find any candidates for GOP chair scumbagging the President:

“There is some element of anti-Trump in Colorado, but I think it is smaller than has been reflected in some of the surveys,” said state Rep. Susan Beckman of Littleton, one of the candidates seeking to lead the party.

“The reality is, in an off-year election like this, there is going to be a blue wave. … I don’t think it’s fair to blame Trump for what happened,” said U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the most prominent name in the race.

“I do not blame Trump,” said Sherrie Gibson, the current party vice chairwoman and candidate. But she added, “I do think there is an element of unaffiliateds who were certainly unhappy with the messaging tone and tenor coming out of the White House, so they voted accordingly.”

From there, the conversation turned to embattled Sen. Cory Gardner, who is set (barring anything unexpected) to share the top of the GOP ticket in Colorado with Trump in 2020. Gardner of course publicly broke with the President in October of 2016 after Trump’s rapey remarks from an Access Hollywood shoot some years before became public, but now says that he “likes” the President and says that Coloradans should have the opportunity to like Trump too! To wary Republicans who worry Gardner hasn’t got the chops to represent the state’s stridently conservative GOP base, Rep. Susan Beckman has this to say:

“I know that there are some that are frustrated at Sen. Gardner, and they should voice their concern, but he has become a warrior for President Trump,” [Pols emphasis] said Beckman, referencing Gardner’s recent endorsement of the president.

And there it is, folks–what the Republican base wants to hear, and every other voter in Colorado doesn’t. It distills the truth of why Gardner has been forced in recent months to close ranks with Trump even as the majority of the state’s voters punished Republicans as a proxy for Trump last November. Within the Republican ideological bubble, what looks like madness to the majority is a matter of survival. It’s the same snare that caught Rep. Mike Coffman last year, and in 2020 it looks increasingly like Gardner is next.

No shaking the Etch-a-Sketch now. He’s a “warrior for President Trump” to the bitter end.

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Gardner Still Wants to Kill “Command-And-Control” Obamacare, But Doesn’t Offer a Replacement Plan

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner doubled down yesterday on his longstanding opposition to Obamacare, saying the national health insurance law has “failed” without offering a concrete plan to replace it.

Gardner’s comments, delivered on KNUS 710-AM’s Steffan Tubbs show, came as the Trump Administration announced yesterday that it will not defend Obamacare in court.

“We need to have Republicans and [laughs] Democrats recognize that the Affordable Care Act failed,” said Gardner when asked by Tubbs what he thought the latest GOP effort to kill the Affordable Care Act.

As part of his evidence for this, Gardner cited the discredited figure that “hundreds of thousands of Coloradans had their insurance plans canceled” due to Obamacare.

In a fact check of a campaign ad citing those numbers, then 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman pointed out that “it’s true that millions of people with individual coverage got cancellation notices because their old plans didn’t meet the standards of Obamacare…. But getting one of these notices is not the same thing as losing insurance.”

Gardner is apparently trying to make people think all these people lost their insurance, which is not the case. In fact, renewals were offered to the vast majority of people whose policies were canceled, and new policies were offered to all.

Gardner cited actions that could be taken to replace Obamacare.

(more…)

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Singleton Will Buy a Tractor From Gardner After Gardner Loses

(An unkind cut – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

After The Denver Post declared this month that its 2014 endorsement of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) was a big mistake, former Post owner Dean Singleton got a call from Gardner himself.

“After the editorial ran, he called me, just to chat,” Singleton told the Colorado Times Recorder. “And I told him that I certainly couldn’t vote for him again, but when he goes back to Yuma in 2021 to sell tractors, I’d be happy to buy a tractor from him.” (Singleton owns ranches and buys tractors.)
“Cory is a gentleman,” Singleton continued. “He said, ‘I respectfully disagree.’ And I said, ‘That’s what democracy is all about. And I suspect the voters of Colorado may disagree with you when they cast their ballots in November of 2020.’
“I mean I don’t know that, and we don’t even know who will run against him. But if you are a U.S. Senator, and you put your hand on the Bible and you swear to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States, and when you fail that test, you ought not be a U.S. Senator.”

Singleton is no longer on the Denver Post’s editorial board, as he was in 2014 when the newspaper endorsed Gardner.

But prior to writing the mea culpa editorial on Gardner, Denver Post Editorial Page Editor Megan Schrader reached out to Singleton for his thoughts on the senator.

“The concern that Megan has had, and I share, is that he just simply has not, and shows no evidence that he ever will, distance himself from the president,” said Singleton. “And The Post has opposed many many things the president has done. And I think the final straw was that The Post believed, and I concur, that his vote against the resolution of disapproval, was a major vote against the separation of powers between the Congress and the president.”

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No Seriously, Where Is Cory Gardner This Recess?

We joked earlier today about a photo sent out by Sen. Cory Gardner’s social media accounts featuring Gardner behind the controls of a commercial aircraft, which as it turns out was a simulator at the United Airlines pilot training facility in the Stapleton neighborhood of Denver taken yesterday. So far as we know, that’s the only word that’s leaked out about Sen. Gardner’s whereabouts during the March congressional recess. ShareBlue’s Emily Singer reported earlier this week:

This week is a district work period for members of Congress — better known as a recess week, when lawmakers head home to meet with constituents and get a feel for what the voters who sent them to Capitol Hill want to see them work on in the nation’s capital.

Yet three vulnerable Republican senators up for re-election in 2020, who just voted to ignore the Constitution and uphold Trump’s fake national emergency, have no public events listed for constituents to attend, according to a review of senators’ official websites, campaign websites and social media accounts…

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), arguably the most vulnerable Republican incumbent senator facing re-election in 2020, also has no public events listed on his websites nor social media accounts. [Pols emphasis] Gardner was rebuked by his hometown newspaper, which revoked its endorsement of the senator after Gardner’s vote to uphold the fake emergency.

Sen. Gardner’s lack of accessibility by his constituents back home in Colorado is a long-running matter of record, with his last public town hall event apparently having occurred all the way back in November of 2017 in Pueblo. Gardner’s 2017 round of town halls were generally considered to be a public relations disaster, after angry constituents vocally rejected unsatisfying answers that did little to improve Gardner’s dented image.

But when you don’t do them at all, and everybody knows you’re in town…that’s worse.

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Caption This Photo: Today You’re Flying With Cory!

Courtesy the Airline Pilots Association, to whom Sen. Cory Gardner paid a visit yesterday during the ongoing congressional recess! The public in Colorado hasn’t seen hide nor hair of our junior Senator in quite some time, and as of now no public events are on the calendar–but as you can see, Sen. Gardner is having a ball behind closed doors.

Keep those seatbelts fastened, though, 2020 is looking increasingly turbulent.

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Trump’s Sunday Twitter Bender Renews Health Concerns

President Trump spends a lot of time on Twitter, as we all know. But Trump’s Sunday Twitter bender, which included an astounding 29 Tweets and Re-Tweets on a dizzying array of subjects, was a bit concerning for a number of reasons.

As conservative political analyst Bill Kristol asked on Sunday:


While White House adviser Kellyanne Conway continues to defend President Trump at every turn, her husband, George Conway, doesn’t share that confidence. From CNN:

This weekend, as Trump was lobbing his own Twitter invective in all directions, George Conway responded with screengrabs showing the medical definitions of narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

“*All* Americans should be thinking seriously *now* about Trump’s mental condition and psychological state, including and especially the media, Congress—and the Vice President and Cabinet,” he wrote.

On Sunday, he stated simply: “His condition is getting worse.”

Before you try to argue against that point, make sure you have an explanation for…whatever this means:

CNN’s Chris Cillizza lists out the smorgasbord of topics that caught Trump’s fancy on St. Patrick’s Day and tries to find the proper perspective to understand these rants:

Twitter — I’ve long argued — is where the truest form of Trump comes out. It’s his Twitter feed — not official White House statements or signing ceremonies — where we find out what is on Trump’s mind and what he really thinks about his presidency and the world.

When you think of it that way, what we witnessed on Sunday is somewhere between concerning and absolutely terrifying. The most powerful man in the country — and maybe the world — spent his day touting unproven conspiracy theories about stolen elections, suggesting collusion between Democrats and comedians, attacking a military hero and Republican senator, and trying to program his favorite cable network’s broadcasts. And he did all of this while failing to send even a single tweet about the tragic mass shooting in New Zealand.

As conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin writes for the Washington Post, there’s no hope in sight that Republicans — like Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — might actually push back a little:

There is no moral or intellectual reason that will persuade them. There is no respectful conversation to be had with people who argue in bad faith. The only solution is to defeat Trump and his party so thoroughly that Trumpism is permanently discredited. A party that continues to defend this president is simply beyond redemption.

We’ll leave you with this note from political scientist Brian Klaas:

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Wunderkind To Weak Loser: Cory Gardner’s Worst Week

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Last week’s vote by the U.S. Senate to terminate President Donald Trump’s border wall national emergency, in which Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado ended weeks of self-generated confusion over his shifting stands on the issue and voted to protect the President, provoked a backlash against Gardner locally that feels much different and more profound than previous such episodes. Kicked off by the Denver Post’s retraction of their controversial 2014 endorsement of Gardner’s election Thursday, Gardner’s last few days of earned media have been easily some of the most brutal of his career.

The Hill:

“Gardner has been too busy walking a political tight rope to be a leader. He has become precisely what we said in our endorsement he would not be: ‘a political time-server interested only in professional security,’” the editorial board wrote. “Trump’s declaration is an abuse of his power, a direct overturning of Congress’ deliberate decision to pass a federal budget without funding for a wall.”

“Put simply this is a constitutional crisis and one of Colorado’s two senators has failed the test,” the paper added. “We no longer know what principles guide the senator and regret giving him our support in a close race against Mark Udall.”

Gardner is one of the Democrats’ top targets heading into the 2020 election cycle, as they hope to capitalize on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s victory in The Centennial State in 2016. Though the Colorado Republican often touts his bipartisanship, Gardner votes with Trump over 90 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Roll Call’s Emily Kopp:

In its 2014 endorsement, The Denver Post lauded Gardner as an energetic moderate, citing what the paper described as his “restraint” toward military spending. The editorial board cheered the Yuma Republican, saying the Senate “needs fresh leadership, energy and ideas, and Cory Gardner can help provide them in the U.S. Senate.”

The most recent editorial states that optimism is no longer warranted.

Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce:

“This is a bogus emergency that takes executive over-reach to an extreme not seen even under President Barack Obama,” the op-ed stated. “Trump’s declaration is an abuse of his power, a direct overturning of Congress’ deliberate decision to pass a federal budget without funding for a wall.”

The Post said it was “surprised by Gardner’s vote” and called it “inconsistent with every stance he has taken on Trump’s presidency.”

There’s been much debate since 2014 about the role of the Denver Post’s endorsement in Gardner’s narrow victory over incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, by far the most substantial victory Colorado Republicans have enjoyed in well over a decade of mostly consecutive electoral defeats in this state. Udall was well-loved by the Democratic base in Colorado and respected by his Senate colleagues, and his defeat by Gardner was a bitter pill that has left lingering resentment to this day–not least toward the Denver Post for their dismissive endorsement of Gardner.

In particular, as Westword’s Chase Woodruff astutely observed this weekend, was the arrogant manner in which the Post’s editorial board brushed off legitimate concerns about Gardner’s record:

(more…)

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Gardner Said Twice He Was Against Trump’s National Emergency. What Happened?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

In his short explanation of why he voted with Trump for a national emergency to build a border wall, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner did not explain why he told at least two Colorado media outlets that he opposed the national emergency.

The two statements are unequivocal, starting with his March 13 statement to KOA radio’s Marty Lenz, one minute into the interview:

“I think declaring a national emergency is not the right idea,” said Gardner on air. “I think Congress needs to do it’s job. There may be some dollars that are available for reprogramming. I’m not sure what they would be, and that would be a matter of a lot of debate because Congress holds the purse strings.”

The next day, Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner Thursday got a similar response from Gardner.

Warner: How do you get the message to him that you don’t want him to perhaps declare a national emergency, as has been hinted? Or, raid other funds for this. How does —

Gardner: Well, it’s pretty simple. I’d tell him that in person, that I think Congress needs to do its job.

Warner: Have you done, that? And do you —

Gardner: I have.


Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking to know why he previously held such a firm view on the national-emergency issue–and what made him do an about face on it.

After the interviews, Gardner issued a statement saying he was still undecided on the national emergency.

“I’m currently reviewing the authorities the Administration is using to declare a national emergency,” stated Gardner.

But he did not explain what he was thinking before and why.

His statement on Wednesday hints that he now believes there is in fact a national emergency on the southern border, and so maybe this affected his thinking:

“Between October and February, border patrol apprehensions were up nearly 100 percent and since 2012, border patrol methamphetamine seizures are up 280 percent,” Gardner said in his statement.

The New York Times has pointed out that it’s apprehensions of families that have increased over time, pointing to a humanitarian crisis. Overall apprehensions are down historically, and ports of entry, not the wider border, is the gateway for most drugs entering America from Mexico.

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Denver Post Retracts Endorsement of Cory Gardner

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

In October of 2014, the Denver Post delivered its much-anticipated endorsement in the red-hot U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and his Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner. The Post’s endorsement of Gardner in this race was delivered more or less on the assurance that Gardner would not represent a threat to the paper’s generally progressive editorial viewpoint, in particular abortion rights after Gardner had invested enormous time and effort living down his stridently anti-abortion record. After Gardner’s narrow win over Udall by less than two percentage points, many Democrats in Colorado took their frustration out on the Post by cancelling their subscriptions–contributing to the paper’s long and steady decline in circulation.

Today, in the wake of Gardner’s brazen about-face on support for President Donald Trump’s controversial national emergency declaration to obtain funds for a border wall without congressional approval, the Denver Post is taking the highly unusual if not unprecedented step of publicly repudiating their own 2014 endorsement of Gardner’s election. Even if you haven’t visited the Denver Post since October 14, 2014, stop what you’re doing and read this now:

We endorsed Sen. Cory Gardner in 2014 because we believed he’d be a statesman. We knew he’d be a conservative voice in Congress, to be certain, but we thought his voice would bring “fresh leadership, energy and ideas.”

We see now that was a mistake – consider this our resolution of disapproval…

Gardner was a never-Trumper in the primary who in recent months endorsed the president’s re-election campaign even as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues to unveil the worst of this administrations web of lies and deceit. Tuesday’s vote was the last straw.

It’s not a perfect retraction–the Post called Gardner’s innumerable votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act “defensible,” which in the context of Gardner’s years-long caterwauling about Coloradans “losing their coverage” is simply ridiculous. There’s also an attempt to defend the paper’s endorsement last year of Rep. Mike Coffman, which tells us they’re still capable of being fooled in the exact same manner that Gardner fooled them in 2014. In the end the voters of CD-6 saw through Coffman’s deceptions where the Post didn’t.

But where Gardner is concerned, if there was any doubt that the shine has come off Colorado’s most ambitious and highest-ranking remaining Republican elected official, this un-endorsement puts it to rest. Gardner isn’t just vulnerable on paper in a state trending away from Gardner’s party. Gardner’s game is personally up.

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Gardner Votes To Let Saudis Keep Bombing Yemen

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports:

Colorado’s U.S. senators split Wednesday over whether to end America’s involvement in Yemen’s civil war.

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Denver Democrat considering running for president in 2020, voted in favor of a resolution ending assistance to Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican, voted against the resolution, which passed the Senate 54-46…

After Democrats took control this year, the House passed a similar measure in February, with only one Colorado member, Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, opposed to the resolution. Two other Colorado Republicans, Reps. Scott Tipton of Cortez and Ken Buck of Windsor, joined all four Colorado Democrats in support of that resolution.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

First of all, it’s universally expected that President Donald Trump will veto this resolution once it reaches his desk, and based on the vote in the Senate there aren’t enough votes to overturn that veto. But two factors combine to make this a morally questionable position for Sen. Cory Gardner to take–the growing condemnation of civilian casualties in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen’s ongoing civil war, and anger over the role of the Saudi crown prince and government in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year inside a Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Like so many other hot-button issues Gardner has tried to have it both ways on relations with Saudi Arabia, claiming support for an investigation into Khashoggi’s death but unwilling to back up that concern with criticism of Saudi Arabia that might jeopardize relations with our “key ally”–let alone votes that might actually motivate the Saudis to be more forthcoming, like voting to end support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

It looks like once again the action to match Sen. Gardner’s lip service will have to wait for another day.

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Let’s Talk About the U.S. Senate Race!

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is among the most endangered Republican incumbents in the country. We know this because hardly a week goes by without some news outlet mentioning his vulnerability in 2020. While the 2020 election is still 607 days away (as of today), we’re less than a year out from the party caucuses in Colorado, which means the clock is ticking as potential candidates jockey for position in 2019.

Gardner officially kicked off his Senate re-election campaign last month with a high-dollar fundraiser in Washington D.C., but he has yet to announce any sort of campaign launch in Colorado. We’re still not convinced that Gardner will ultimately be on the ballot in November 2020; sharing a slate with Donald Trump is going to be rough for any Republican, particularly in a state like Colorado where Democrats ran roughshod over Republicans in 2018.

Gardner is not the kind of politician who joins a fight he isn’t confident about winning, and his polling numbers have been in the toilet for several years now. His increasingly-close embrace of Trump – Gardner was one of the first big Republican names to endorse Trump’s re-election — won’t help him in a state carried by Hillary Clintonin 2016. His strange waffling on Trump’s “emergency declaration” for border wall money suggests that he’s also worried about a potential Republican Primary.

But enough speculation about Gardner for now. He’s still the incumbent and he says he’s running for re-election, so let’s focus instead on the Democratic side of the aisle, where the likely 2020 nominee isn’t even a candidate yet…

 

(more…)

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Gardner’s National Emergency Waffle Getting Painful To Watch

As the standoff over a pending vote in the U.S. Senate to disapprove of President Donald Trump’s dubious declaration of a national emergency to appropriate by fiat the billions he needs to fund construction of a wall on the southern U.S. border drags on, our friends at WaPo’s The Fix take stock of the seven U.S. Senators still calling themselves “undecided”–and topping the list of the most vulnerable fence-sitters is, no surprise here, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado:

According to Rand Paul (Ky.) — one of four GOP senators on record supporting the Democrats’ resolution to overturn President Trump’s national emergency declaration — as many as 10 Republicans could buck the White House and vote with Democrats next week.

The president is reportedly upping the pressure on Republicans. On Wednesday afternoon, he tweeted: “Senate Republicans are not voting on constitutionality or precedent, they are voting on desperately needed Border Security & the Wall. Our Country is being invaded with Drugs, Human Traffickers, & Criminals of all shapes and sizes. That’s what this vote is all about. STAY UNITED!”

…Of all the possible Republican defectors, Gardner has the most to lose. [Pols emphasis] He is up for reelection in 2020 in a purple state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 by 5 points. Taking the president’s side on this could jeopardize his already tenuous reelection prospects, but voting against the president will invite the wrath of Trump’s core supporters who make up a large share of the loyal GOP voting constituencies.

As we’ve analyzed in this space in detail, this political quandary helps explain why Gardner waffled on his prior seemingly clear opposition to Trump declaring a national emergency for the border wall as soon as Trump went through with the order. We’re not sure whether Gardner simply thought Trump wouldn’t pull the proverbial trigger, or was prepared to move himself into the “unsure” camp as the lesser of two political evils once Trump did despite his prior statements. Since Trump’s declaration, Gardner has stalled for time while waiting for other Senators to make his position a moot point.

But it’s not working out that way. Instead, Gardner’s indecision is standing out more by the day–and the fact that Gardner has already waffled, which The Fix missed but local journalists have been diligently reporting, only makes it worse.

We’ve said it before: Cory Gardner isn’t as politically skilled as his carefully-crafted reputation suggests. Sometimes, more often than gets reported in fact, he’s really as weak and disorganized as he looks–and this is one of those times.

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