Mueller Probe Nears Completion; Will Republicans Try to Bury It?

Donald Nixon

There’s a lot to unpack about special counsel Robert Mueller’s apparently soon-to-be-final report into potential collusion between President Trump’s campaign and/or obstruction of justice, so let’s jump right in, shall we?

As CNN reports:

Attorney General Bill Barr is preparing to announce as early as next week the completion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, with plans for Barr to submit to Congress soon after a summary of Mueller’s confidential report, according to people familiar with the plans.

The preparations are the clearest indication yet that Mueller is nearly done with his almost two-year investigation.

The precise timing of the announcement is subject to change.

The scope and contours of what Barr will send to Congress remain unclear. Also unclear is how long it will take Justice officials to prepare what will be submitted to lawmakers…

Under the special counsel regulations, Mueller must submit a “confidential” report to the attorney general at the conclusion of his work, but the rules don’t require it to be shared with Congress, or by extension, the public. And, as Barr has made clear, the Justice Department generally guards against publicizing “derogatory” information about uncharged individuals.

As a result, one of the most pressing questions Barr will face in the coming weeks is the extent to which Mueller’s findings should be disclosed to Congress. [Pols emphasis]

How would Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) oppose any efforts by Barr (or the White House, as adviser Kellyanne Conway indicated on Tuesday) to potentially bury the results of the Mueller investigation? If Gardner’s recent public comments are any indication…we really don’t know the answer to that question.

87% of Americans want a full public report of Mueller investigation — including 92% of Democrats and 80% of Republicans.

It’s important to note that the American public is not particularly divided about wanting to see the results of Mueller’s investigation, as FiveThirtyEight.com noted earlier this month:

It’s rare for Americans to agree on anything these days, particularly when it comes to a politically charged issue like special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. But a CNN poll released last Thursday found that a whopping 87 percent of Americans (including 92 percent of Democrats and 80 percent of Republicans) believe that once the Mueller investigation ends, there should be a full public report on the findings, whatever they may be.

The Washington Post found similar numbers in a separate poll this month.

So far, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has had President Trump’s back at every turn.

Last month a bipartisan Senate bill was proposed that would require Mueller’s team to submit a public report to Congress once the investigation has concluded. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who is reportedly in frequent communication with President Trump, has been lukewarm on this proposal from Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Gardner has generally given lip service to supporting the Mueller investigation, but has balked at standing behind any sort of pre-emptive legislation to protect the special counsel. As Colorado Public Radio reported in December regarding a proposal to protect Mueller legislatively, “Gardner accused the bill’s backers of ‘playing politics,'” which is a particularly stupid response given that Gardner is paid a full salary so that he can go to Washington D.C. and “play politics” on all sorts of issues. This is sort of like John Elway saying that there is too much “playing football” with the Denver Broncos.

If Mueller’s investigation is indeed nearing a conclusion, the American public has made it clear that they expect to be able to see the results for themselves. We’ll learn a lot about Gardner’s political future by how he responds to any public release of information (or lack thereof) once the investigation is finalized.

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Gardner’s Hail Mary: Please, Colorado, Start Liking Trump

(Not a great plan — promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has one dim path to retaining his seat in next year’s election: Hope like heck that President Trump becomes popular in Colorado.

Oh, there’s another way too: if Trump isn’t on the 2020 ballot, but let’s just call that impossible.

But who would deny that there’s a chance, even if it’s minuscule, that Trump’s fortunes could start to rise? It could happen.

And Gardner knows it.

That’s why he was on KNUS radio last week saying:

Gardner: “We’ve got to make sure we have an opportunity for the American people to get to like the president. And I think they like his policies. I think they do.”

People like Trump’s policies? On Healthcare? Taxes? Environment? Mostly not, actually.

But in some of the most depressing news in months, polls showed more people thought favorably of Trump after his State of the Union Address speech Feb. 5.

And 57 percent of independent voters who watched the speech had a very positive view of it—along with 87 percent of Republicans.

Speech watchers tilted conservative but still.

And what if Trump took the hint and started acting like someone more people could actually like?

Gardner’s not waiting for Trump to change. The Colorado Republican has already made it clear how much he likes the president.

Immediately after November’s election, Gardner said he’d “like to see the president come to Colorado.”

Then last month, Gardner endorsed Trump’s 2020 re-election bid.

Some political observers were so stunned by Gardner’s endorsement of Trump that they speculated Gardner might be setting himself up to drop out of the race for a “high dollar” private-sector job.

But if Gardner has shown Colorado one thing, it is that he’s as savvy as it gets when it comes to supporting personhood, I mean, when it comes to winning elections.

(more…)

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When Donald Calls Cory

Call me later, bro.

We noted last week that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) told at least one interviewer that he had personally talked to President Trump about the latter’s plan for an emergency declaration for border wall funding. Here is that exchange between Gardner and Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio:

WARNER: So how do you get the message to him perhaps that you don’t want him to declare a national emergency, as has been hinted, or raid other funds for this?

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

WARNER: Have you done that?

GARDNER: I have.

WARNER: Alright.

When, exactly, did Gardner have this conversation with President Trump? As a front page story in today’s Washington Post, Gardner has plenty of opportunities to chat up the big orange guy:

The chatterbox in chief has eschewed the traditional way that presidents communicate with members of Congress, calling lawmakers at all hours of the day without warning and sometimes with no real agenda. Congressional Republicans reciprocate in kind, increasingly dialing up the president directly to gauge his thinking after coming to terms with the fact that ultimately, no one speaks for Trump but Trump himself…

…Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — whom Trump has called while the Kentucky Republican was attending a Nationals baseball game — is among the most frequent of the president’s phone partners. But Trump also speaks often with Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), according to people familiar with the conversations. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner is apparently much closer to Trump than he would have Colorado voters believe. Given the fact that Coloradans generally are not very happy with Trump (or Gardner), this won’t make Gardner’s 2020 re-election campaign any less complicated.

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Gardner’s Totally Predictable Wall Waffle Underway

SATURDAY UPDATE: Mid-waffle update–KRDO 13 reports:

“I think the President is right to pursue additional border security dollars,” Gardner says, [Pols emphasis] “I think Congress ought to do their job and make this border security a reality.”

The declaration receiving a lot of criticism from Democrats and Republicans, including questions about its legality. The Republican Senator saying that before things move forward on the proposed wall, he wants to find out himself.”That’s what i’m looking at before anything further is just understanding the law, understanding the legal ramifications.”

He’ll be home in time for supper, folks.

—–

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

In an interview yesterday with Colorado Public Radio, Sen. Cory Gardner sure sounded like he was certain about his opinion of President Donald Trump’s plan to declare a national emergency in order to build his wall fence barrier whatever you want to call it:

When asked whether Trump should declare an emergency or use other federal funds to pay for the wall, Gardner said he had personally told Trump he opposed both steps. [Pols emphasis]

“I think Congress needs to do its job,” Gardner said.

Was anything lost in translation from the live interview to the news story, you might reasonably ask?

Ryan 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 —

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

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

Cory Gardner: I have.

Got that? Cory Gardner–not on board with the national emergency. As we pointed out. Yesterday.

Oh wait, you thought Sen. Gardner meant all that stuff, didn’t you? Sorry to disappoint you, but this is the same Cory Gardner less than 24 hours later! The only thing that’s changed is Trump has declared his emergency, and Gardner isn’t sitting next to Sen. Michael Bennet on Colorado Public Radio.

If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated at how Cory Gardner shamelessly utilizes Bennet as a human shield, particularly in situations where the Republican position is going to look unsalvageably bad–a frequent profanity-laden topic among Democratic operatives–this could be the most maddening occurrence yet. Gardner is caught midway through a fully predictable 180-degree pivot back to supporting Trump, and he simply lied his way through what could have been a telling confrontation over the issue yesterday with his Democratic counterpart.

If you didn’t already know to never take anything Gardner says at face value, here is the lesson writ large.

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Trump to Declare Wall Emergency; Gardner Looks Silly (Again)

“Wall, wall, wall. Wall.”

As the Washington Post reports, President Trump is expected to sign compromise legislation preventing another government shutdown…but he’s also going to declare a “national emergency” so that he can siphon off more money for his big ol’ border wall:

President Trump is prepared to sign a massive spending and border security deal, while at the same time declaring a national emergency to get more money to build his border wall, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday.

McConnell made the announcement on the Senate floor, and told senators to prepare to vote shortly on the legislation that would stave off a government shutdown Friday at midnight.

“The president will sign the bill. We’ll be voting on it shortly,” McConnell said.

McConnell also said he’d told the president he would support the emergency declaration, which would allow the president to circumvent Congress and use the military to build his wall. McConnell has voiced opposition for weeks to the idea of Trump declaring a national emergency. [Pols emphasis]

This is a pretty abrupt change from McConnell, and as you’ll see in a moment, it appears to be a surprise to other Republicans like Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).  Earlier today, Gardner appeared with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) for an interview with Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio. This exact topic was the first item of discussion:

WARNER: Senator Gardner, let’s do a reality check here. Congress controls the purse strings for the most part. Is it realistic for the President to get the wall built without Congress?

GARDNER: Well, again, you’d have to check the legal authorities that might be there, but I don’t think he should do anything without Congress’ approval. It’s important for Congress to have the appropriate oversight. That’s why this deal is, I think, a compromise that he will sign. I believe he will. Nancy Pelosi said she would not allow one dollar to go to the barrier, barriers on the border. President Trump said he wanted $5.7 billion, and this is a reasonable path forward allowing the government to maintain itself in operation while also providing border security.

WARNER: So how do you get the message to him perhaps that you don’t want him to declare a national emergency, as has been hinted, or raid other funds for this?

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

WARNER: Have you done that?

GARDNER: I have.

WARNER: Alright.

Look who got stuck holding the bag.

D’oh!

Gardner hasn’t missed many opportunities to lavish praise on President Trump lately, perhaps in part because Colorado Republicans remain oddly enamored with the big orange guy (unfortunately for Gardner, the rest of Colorado disagrees with both Trump and his wall).

Just last month, Gardner became one of the first high-profile Republicans to officially endorse Trump’s re-election campaign, which earned him a Presidential Tweet. But when it comes down to policy issues, for everything from a border wall to North Korea, Trump has no problem stepping over Gardner.

Politically-speaking, this could soon get much worse for Gardner and friends. As CNN noted earlier this week, the “national emergency” approach has long terrified Congressional Republicans:

That’s because doing so could set off a chain of events on Capitol Hill that risks splitting the Republican conference, undercutting other parts of Trump’s agenda and likely opening the administration’s actions to legal challenges. It would also provide a clarifying moment that Republicans on the Hill have managed to avoid since Trump took office — casting an up or down vote on whether to build the full-scale wall Trump desires.

According to federal law, Congress can rescind a presidential emergency declaration by passing a joint resolution. In the likely event that such a bill would be vetoed by the President, Congress could then override it with a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House.

The danger to congressional Republicans isn’t having to overcome a presidential veto, but in having to vote on the resolution itself. Any such measure would be considered privileged — if, for example, the House passed it then the Senate would be required by law to vote on the measure within 18 days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be powerless to stop a floor vote.

Gardner says that he has told Trump directly that he disagrees with a “national emergency” declaration — which didn’t seem to make any difference to Trump. Gardner might soon have to cast a vote on this very issue, which will most certainly make a difference with Colorado voters in 2020.

Loyalty has its price. When it comes to Gardner and Trump, only one person appears to be making any payments.

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Poll: Colorado Republicans Are Completely Fucked

Rinse, repeat

The conservative polling outfit Magellan Strategies, which is based in Colorado, recently queried Colorado Republicans in an effort to “learn how Republican voters want to move forward.” What Magellan found is that Colorado Republicans are totally and completely hosed for at least the next couple of years.

As Ernest Luning writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, it’s not hyperbole to call these numbers disastrous for the GOP:

President Donald Trump remains wildly popular among Colorado Republican voters, and they overwhelmingly believe immigration is the most important issue facing them, a new survey conducted by a GOP polling firm finds.

And by a wide margin, Republicans in Colorado prefer uncompromising conservative candidates to moderates who are willing to work with Democrats to get thing done, according to the survey made available in advance to Colorado Politics…

…“It’s all Trump. They love Trump,” said pollster Ryan Winger, director of data analysis for the Louisville-based firm. “Call it partisan, call it tribal — they support the president.”

You can read the full polling memo from Magellan Strategies, but this is the problem in a nutshell for the GOP: Colorado Republicans love President Trump and a majority are only interested in supporting hard-right Republican candidates at every level of government. Unfortunately for Republicans, this is not at all what the vast majority of Coloradans would prefer. As Magellan pollster Ryan Winger tells Colorado Politics:

“Dislike of President Trump was a big reason why Republicans got swept out of the statewide offices in November. When Republicans say the problem is our guys weren’t enough like Trump, there’s a complete disconnect there between what they’re thinking and what other voters in Colorado are thinking.” [Pols emphasis]

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the more noteworthy numbers from Magellan’s latest poll:

Colorado Republicans give President Trump an astounding 90% approval rating — with 72% of respondents saying that they “strongly approve” of the President’s performance. It would be an understatement to say that these numbers are not supported by the rest of Colorado voters. Among all Coloradans, Trump’s approval rating is at about 39% (and as you may recall, Trump did not carry Colorado in 2016).

A different survey conducted by Magellan Strategies shortly after the 2018 election found that Colorado Unaffiliated voters were THREE TIMES more likely to vote against Republican candidates because of their dislike of Trump. As Magellan’s David Flaherty said at the time, those results “can only be described as extraordinary … because in the past 20 years, never has one political party been so overwhelmingly rejected at every level of representative government by the electorate.”

Among Colorado Republicans, immigration is far and away the single most important issue. Magellan found that 48% of Republican Primary voters and 40% of non-Primary voters prioritize immigration reform policies above any other subject. A full 88% of Republican respondents support the idea of a big ‘ol border wall. “Government spending” (11%) and “Transportation” (10%) were the next most popular issues. The rest of Colorado is much less interested in this topic; in 2018, Unaffiliated voters in Colorado listed “Healthcare” and “Education” as the foremost issues that drove them to the polls.

Colorado Republicans have no interest in candidates looking to find a middle ground, with 61% of respondents saying they prefer “uncompromising, conservative candidates” to “moderate candidates.” This suggests that Republicans are stuck in the same endless loop of nominating the most right-wing candidate for a General Election drubbing, in part because they are sticking with conspiracy theories to explain their 2018 losses. This section of Luning’s Colorado Politics story should make every Republican cringe:

While the Republicans who responded to the poll had plenty of theories to explain their losses in November, the most common reason appeared to be widespread voting by new residents — from California and other bastions of liberalism — as well as a suspicion that immigrants in the country illegally and voting fraudulently are responsible for Democratic wins in Colorado.

“Every available set of information and facts out there tells you it doesn’t happen, and voter fraud is basically nonexistent,” Winger said. “The system of elections in Colorado is consistently ranked the best in the country. I don’t know how you dislodge that in people’s minds.”

He added that the notion that illegal immigrants are behind Republican losses at the ballot box dovetails with another assumption the pollsters heard from the Republican voters, that the media are somehow suppressing the real story.

“It’s this idea that because they love Trump, the only reason [he] and his agenda wouldn’t be popular is if a bunch of illegal people are voting, and the people aren’t hearing the truth about Trump and his policies. When they see a survey that says Trump is not popular, they just don’t believe it.”

Welp, there you have it. If ignorance is bliss, as the saying goes, then Colorado Republicans are happy, happy, happy.

For different reasons, Colorado Democrats should be equally thrilled.

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It’s Official: Gardner 2020 Campaign Kicks Off in DC With Leadership Luncheon

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gardner & McConnell NRSC election night 2018

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is officially running for re-election next year.

His 2020 campaign will “kick off” Feb. 27 with a Washington, D.C. luncheon hosted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), “benefiting the reelection campaign of Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO).”

This event invitation appears to put to rest speculation among political pundits that Gardner may have been thinking about stepping down in the face of discouraging poll numbers.

(more…)

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Bill Coming Due for Gardner on Healthcare #FAIL

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner (July 28, 2017)

Poll after poll has shown that healthcare was the most dominant political issue of the 2018 election cycle, in which Democrats took majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives and earned sweeping victories across the country — including here in Colorado. Republicans were well aware of this problem ahead of Election Day; they tried unsuccessfully to mitigate the impact last fall with a silly measure intended to show that the GOP really did care about pre-existing conditions.

The Republican healthcare problem is back in the news today with a report from the Washington Post about a recent conversation between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and top GOP donors:

Speaking privately to his donors, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy squarely blamed Republican losses in last year’s midterm elections on the GOP push to roll back health insurance protections for people with preexisting conditions — and in turn blamed his party’s right flank.

McCarthy’s comments, made in a Feb. 6 conference call from which The Washington Post obtained partial recordings, represent a vindication of Democratic efforts to elevate health care as an issue in last year’s campaign. And in singling out the House Freedom Caucus, the remarks threaten to rekindle internal resentments inside the House Republican Conference…

…Elsewhere on the call, McCarthy offered a selective account of the 2017 health-care battles on Capitol Hill, where Republicans in the House toiled for months to craft an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, narrowly passing a bill in May before watching the Senate abandon the effort three months later.

“When we couldn’t pass the repeal of Obamacare the first way through, an amendment came because the Freedom Caucus wouldn’t vote for” the original House bill, McCarthy said. “That amendment put [the] preexisting condition campaign against us, and so even people who are running for the very first time got attacked on that. And that was the defining issue and the most important issue in the race.”

McCarthy’s frank assessment of how Republicans bungled attempts at changing healthcare policy will be particularly relevant for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) as he approaches his re-election campaign. Gardner makes a lot of vacuous statements about healthcare policy as he tries to dance around the fact that he was a reliable vote for every Republican attempt at gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2017. He won’t be able to shimmy around these tough questions with his name on the ballot in 2020.

July 27, 2017

Mark Matthews (then of the Denver Post) foresaw this very scenario for Gardner after Sen. John McCain dramatically sank Republican efforts to dismantle healthcare protections for Americans in July 2017:

…[Gardner] wouldn’t take a concrete position on any of the GOP plans to undo the 2010 health care law — only to back every major Republican proposal last week to come up for a vote, from repeal-and-replace to repeal-and-delay.

On one level, it’s not surprising: Gardner ran for Senate in 2014 on a pledge to dismantle the ACA and, as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he’s close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that his GOP colleagues — most of whom want to unwind the ACA — get re-elected in 2018.

“I am committed to reforming our nation’s broken health care system, and I’ll continue to work to bring relief to Coloradans being hurt by the negative impacts of Obamacare,” Gardner said after the repeal effort collapsed early Friday.

But the way the fight played out — from his own wavering to the Senate’s rushed, overnight vote — leaves Gardner exposed back in Colorado, a swing state with an active conservative base but one where surveys have shown a greater desire to fix the ACA rather than repeal it.

It is, of course, deeply ironic that a politician who rose to prominence because of his opposition to the ACA will struggle to win another term in office…for the exact same reason.

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Cory Gardner Wants YOU To Like Donald Trump

(What more can we add? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

President Trump (left) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, said yesterday that he likes Trump and wants to give the American people “an opportunity” to get to like him too.

“I like the president, and we’ve got to make sure we have an opportunity for the American people to get to like the President,” Gardner told KNUS 710-AM’s Steffan Tubbs yesterday. “And I think they like his policies. I think they do.”

Gardner’s positive comments about Trump are mostly consistent with what Colorado’s junior senator has said since the midterms, not only endorsing Trump but also saying he’d “like to see the president come to Colorado.”

He’s also said, as he did on the radio yesterday, saying, “I’m going to agree with Donald Trump; I’m going to disagree with Donald Trump.”

Gardner predicted Trump will win in 2020, but it’s “going to be a tough fight.”

“I’m going to be about optimism,” said Gardner in a conversation about his plan to “take our record of accomplishment on the road” in his 2020 compaign.

Gardner has has had a bumpy attitude toward Trump over the years.

“I like the president, and we’ve got to make sure we have an opportunity for the American people to get to like the President. And I think they like his policies. I think they do.”

— Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

Gardner called Trump a “buffoon in 2015,” but he said in March of 2016 that he’d vote for the mogul after he was asked seven times in a row by the Wall Street Journal whether he’d do so. A few months later, after Trump’s infamous pussy-grabbing comment come to light, Gardner said flatly, “I will not vote for Donald Trump.”

Gardner now has a 90 percent lifetime pro-Trump voting record.

Prior to appearing on the show, KNUS’ Randy Corporon complained that. for years, Gardner had refused to appear on his KNUS show.

At the beginning of the interview, Tubbs promised to vote for Gardner.

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On Abortion, Gardner Can Run But He Can’t Hide

Cory Gardner, running from “Personhood” in 2014.

The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin and Michael Scherer put out an in-depth story yesterday that focuses on the changing politics of abortion with the U.S. Supreme Court shifting steadily rightward under President Donald Trump–a shift that could leave Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado dangerously exposed on the issue in 2020 after successfully talking his way out of trouble in 2014:

“We believe that the Kavanaugh vote is not going to be soon forgotten. It wasn’t just a moment in time,” said Brian Fallon, director of Demand Justice, which will launch a small digital ad campaign against Collins this week. The group also plans to hire field organizers in Maine and Colorado, swing states where Collins and Sen. Cory Gardner (R) are set to face voters in 2020…

Democrats plan to use the threat of court action to put Republicans in increasingly blue states on the defensive. Gardner, who voted for Kavanaugh and describes himself as “pro-life,” struggled with questions about abortion during his 2014 race, [Pols emphasis] when Democrats attacked him for having supported efforts to declare the fetus a person entitled to legal rights — a position that could outlaw abortion completely.

Gardner countered that his support amounted to a “statement” signaling his opposition to abortion, and said he wanted to increase access to contraception.

As we wrote last week in the wake of a narrow SCOTUS decision temporarily staving off a crisis over a Louisiana abortion restriction law, reproductive choice is an issue with a long and difficult political history in Colorado. Although our state has a demonstrated pro-choice majority of voters who have rejected abortion ban constitutional amendments repeatedly in recent years, Colorado’s anti-abortion political activists are very powerful within the Republican coalition–placing Republican candidates in the undesirable position of having to satisfy strident litmus tests on abortion in the GOP primary process, then trying to moderate that position enough to win a general election.

Cory Gardner, who had risen in Eastern Plains GOP politics by vocally supporting the “Personhood” abortion ban amendments, found a simple solution to this apparently contradiction: lying. After declaring to an obliging reporter that he no longer supported the local “Personhood” measures he had backed for years, Gardner insisted for the rest of the campaign that his continued support for federal legislation with the same language as “Personhood” was not what it plainly looked like–and managed to convince the press that the real problem was his opponent was overplaying the issue, not Gardner being deceptive at all! The success of this audacious strategy was proven when the Denver Post called Democrats’ attacks on Gardner over abortion a “tired refrain,” and asserted that “Gardner’s election would pose no threat to abortion rights.”

Safe to say, few events in local politics have aged as poorly as that endorsement. For Gardner and Colorado Republicans in general, the success for Republicans nationally that has shifted the Supreme Court toward their desired goal of overturning Roe v. Wade now risks turning abortion from a safe issue with which to mobilize the Republican base into a disastrous liability–one that forces all the consequences of their unpopular position on abortion into the spotlight. The very real threat of a nationwide rollback of abortion rights destroys the reasoning behind the Post’s downplaying of the threat Gardner personally represents, as well as the complacency of local journalists who have long blithely insisted that abortion isn’t an issue worth their time.

After literally defying reality in 2014, a perfect storm is brewing for Gardner just in time to face the voters again.

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Got Thousands To Spare? Join Cory Gardner’s “Executive Board!”

In D.C. this evening–happening right now in fact–is a fundraiser to re-elect Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, with a head-turning, depending on your point of view perhaps head-scratching theme:

The federal government may be careening toward another shutdown at the end of the week, but for Sen. Gardner it’s business as usual! For $10,000 as a PAC or a cool $5,400 as a lowly individual, you too can join Cory Gardner’s “Executive Board”–or if that’s too rich for your blood, $2,700 will buy you a “Season Pass.” It’s explained further that “Executive Board and Season Pass Benefit Packages Available upon request.”

Now of course, contributions to a sitting U.S. Senator are most assuredly not meant to be a quid pro quo affair, and it should go without saying that Senators should avoid even the slightest appearance of a transactional benefit from a campaign contribution. And that might make you rightly wonder: what exactly is in the “benefit package” one gets for writing a big enough check to join Sen. Gardner’s “Executive Board?”

Perhaps we’re being too literal about this? Maybe–but without $5,400 to find out, you’ll never know for sure.

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Gardner Snarls At Women Who Cheered During Trump Speech

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner  thinks it was self-serving of Congresswomen to stand up and cheer during Trump’s State-of-the-Union speech Tuesday after the President said, “No one has benefited more from a thriving economy than women who have filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year.”

Asked by KDMT radio host Jimmy Sengenberger about the Democrats, led by white-garbed women, who were standing up and cheering, Gardner snarled that the lawmakers didn’t cheer for Hispanics or African Americans, but “they did cheer for themselves.”

GARDNER:  You know, when it comes to the cheer leading in the middle of the State of the Union, look, they didn’t applaud unemployment levels in African American populations. They didn’t applaud unemployment levels when it comes to [the] Hispanic population in the United States. They didn’t applaud the fact that we’re going to fight against socialism. But they did applaud themselves. And I think that’s pretty telling of what we saw at the State of the Union.

“That is a very strong point, I think,” responded Sengenberger.

Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking to know if he thinks Democratic women care more about themselves than they care about Hispanics and African Americans, and, if so, why?

And does Gardner think Republican lawmakers like him are less generally self-centered and more caring people than Democrats?

Gardner’s did not answer those questions left on his office voicemail.

Gardner criticized the cheering, but Trump was more gracious at the time, saying when the applause subsided, “That’s great. Really great. And congratulations. That’s great.”

(more…)

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Abortion Apocalypse Staved Off, No Thanks To Cory Gardner

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The New York Times reports on the high-drama ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday temporarily blocking a highly restrictive anti-abortion law in Louisiana from going into effect, and revealing in this 5-4 decision the grave danger abortion rights are presently in–despite a persistent unwillingness by reporters locally and nationally to acknowledge this reality:

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a Louisiana law that its opponents say could have left the state with only one doctor in a single clinic authorized to provide abortions.

The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four-member liberal wing to form a majority. That coalition underscored the pivotal position the chief justice has assumed after the departure last year of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who used to hold the crucial vote in many closely divided cases, including ones concerning abortion…

Meanwhile,

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh said they would have denied the stay. Only Justice Kavanaugh published a dissent, taking a middle position that acknowledged the key precedent and said he would have preferred more information on the precise effect of the law.

The Louisiana law in question is what’s known in the reproductive rights community as a TRAP law–“targeted restrictions on abortion providers,” meaning regulations intended to reduce the availability of abortions with no clinically proven benefit. This particular law is a requirement that physicians who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a local hospital, which is medically unnecessary and would only serve to severely reduce the number of eligible abortion providers.

The narrow and temporary blocking of this bill from taking effect is thanks to a swing vote from Chief Justice John Roberts, who once again took surprising action to avert what could have kicked off the long-awaited final assault on the Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing abortion rights throughout the United States. This apparently represents a swing from Roberts’ vote on a previous similar case, underscoring his self-appointed role as a moderator on a sharply divided court. With that said, the Court is still expected to hear this case in the fall, and numerous other state-level bills intended specifically to challenge Roe are in the judicial pipeline.

Despite this temporary win for pro-choice advocates, it’s clear that abortion rights are today in greater actual peril than at any point since the Roe decision in 1973. Especially if conservatives get another Justice before President Donald Trump leaves office but even with the Court as it sits today, the likelihood of Roe being thrown out is very high. Trump’s two appointed Justices, both of whom were confirmed with Sen. Cory Gardner’s support and one of which was stolen from Democrats in an unprecedented act of Senate treachery, showed in this trial balloon vote that they are ready to do it. Remember that next time anyone tells you that Gardner “would pose no threat to abortion rights.”

The moral of the story? Even here in Colorado where the voters have demonstrated their support for reproductive choice over and over at the polls, we’re only one election away from passing the same legislation that was blocked yesterday–legislation we see introduced in the Colorado legislature year after year. For reasons we’ve never really understood, local political reporters have been openly contemptuous about covering Republican anti-abortion bills in the Colorado General Assembly in recent years.

That complacency really, really needs to stop. “Token” GOP abortion bills in Colorado are not theater.

They are a warning.

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Andrew Romanoff Is In–For Real This Time

Andrew Romanoff (D).

As the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports, after a brief stir in December when campaign filings tipped off his intentions, former Colorado Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff is making it official today: he’s running for the U.S. Senate in 2020.

“My campaign, like my career, is grounded in the people of Colorado,” Romanoff said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “I know firsthand what women and men of goodwill can achieve when united by a common purpose.”

The Ohio native, who once planned on a career in journalism, joins a growing list of Democrats vying to take on Gardner, pegged as one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans. Former state Sen. Mike Johnston announced at the end of January, and Lorena Garcia, Trish Zornio and Keith Pottratz have all launched campaigns.

Romanoff took a progressive stance on a variety of issues in his announcement, including Medicare for all, immigration reform and renewable energy. He specifically mentioned the Green New Deal to replace fossils fuels that’s being pushed by his former aide, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Boulder.

One of the architects of the 2004 takeover of the Colorado legislature that led to enduring dominance by Democrats in Colorado politics, there are few Democratic candidates on the bench in Colorado with the long experience both as a lawmaker and a candidate to match Romanoff. In 2010, Romanoff endeared himself to the Democratic grassroots in his unsuccessful primary challenge to now-Sen. Michael Bennet, and he retains relatively good name recognition within the party rank-and-file.

It’s an interesting point of trivia that Romanoff was one of the principal advocates for 2005’s Referendum C, a fiscal measure that allowed the state some desperately-needed relief from the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) to keep programs funded after the early-2000s recession. Fresh off his appointment to the Colorado House in the summer of 2005, one of Gardner’s first real campaigns was the failed attempt by hard-line Republicans to oppose the bipartisan Referendum C.

A long Democratic primary lies ahead, but Romanoff stands out among the current field of candidates.

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Will Gardner’s Endorsement Of Trump Muzzle His GOP Critics?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A longtime nonpartisan political analyst predicted Monday that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s endorsement of Trump has “shut the door” on any efforts to primary the first-term Republican prior to his expected re-election bid in 2020.

Sen. Gardner and Trump on Air Force One

In an appearance on Colorado Public Radio Monday, Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at the Cook Political Report, had this to say about Gardner’s endorsement of Trump:

“I think [Gardner], one: endorsed the inevitable, but two: he also sent a message to Trump supporters in the state that he was with the president because – as a lot of Republicans learned in 2018 – to be against the president is to pretty much earn yourself a primary opponent,” said Duffy. “So he shut that door.”

Since Gardner took office, he has faced livid attacks from base Republicans, who see him as mealy-mouthed and have floated the name of State Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) as a great choice to challenge Gardner in a primary. Earlier this year, GOP gadflys, like Marc Zarlengo, and others, called for someone to challenge Gardner.

But Gardner’s endorsement of Trump could indeed help stave off a primary challenge, said Steve Barlock, who led the Trump campaign in Denver.

“Cory had only only one way to protect himself, and that was to endorse Trump,” said Barlock, adding that the “Trump base” in Colorado was completely infuriated at Gardner’s path-breaking decision to support ending the partial government shutdown without funding a border wall.

Gardner needs to support Trump “100 percent” going forward, said Barlock.

“It will be, ‘Cory, did you do everything for Trump? We’re voting for you. If you didn’t do everything for Trump, you’re on your own, buddy,'” said Barlock.

KNUS 710-AM radio host Julie Hayden says Gardner’s endorsement of Trump isn’t very meaningful to Republicans who don’t trust Gardner, but this doesn’t mean a primary is likely or would be successful.

“Cory Gardner’s endorsement of Trump does not do a heck of a lot right now to impress the Republicans who have had concerns about Gardner,” said Hayden. “From my point of view, Cory Gardner seems to flip flop and endorse Trump when he thinks it’s good for him. So I don’t think people like me are swayed by [Gardner endorsing Trump].”

In fact, Gardner, who called Trump a “buffoon in 2015,” said in March of 2016 that he’d vote for the mogul after he was asked seven times in a row by the Wall Street Journal whether he’d do so. A few months later, after Trump’s infamous pussy-grabbing comment come to light, Gardner said flatly, “I will not vote for Donald Trump.”

“I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women,” Gardner said at the time, promising to vote for Mike Pence instead.

Gardner now has a 90 percent lifetime pro-Trump voting record, which has fallen to 50 percent pro-Trump during the current congressional session.

“People like me are going to be keeping a very close eye on what Cory Gardner says and does,” said Hayden, who’s a former reporter at Fox 31 Denver.

Hayden added that, while she likes other Republicans more than Gardner on the issues, the chances of anyone mounting a successful primary challenge against Gardner are extremely low, given his likely financial advantage.

Gardner followed his Trump endorsement last week with a rare visit to a Republican organizational meeting in Adams County, according to local GOP district captain Ben Nicholas, speaking to Hayden on KNUS Monday.

Gardner surprised Adams GOP attendees by “finally” appearing at the meeting, after six years of “avoiding us like the plague,” said Nicholas on air.

This could be another signal, in addition to his unexpected Trump endorsement, that Gardner is trying head off a conservative primary challenge before it starts frothing at the mouth in public.

Shortly after the November election, GOP pollster David Flaherty said Gardner could “very well” face a primary challenge, but it would have a “minuscule” chance of success.

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Cory Gardner Loves, Ignores Trump’s State of the Union

President Trump (left) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, considered one of if not the most vulnerable incumbent Republican U.S. Senator up for re-election in 2020, was effusive in his praise for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last night (see video above):

“I applaud the President’s call for compromise and cooperation tonight. It is time to leave partisan corners and work together on behalf of the American people to move our country forward,” Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said in a statement. “I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fix our broken immigration system, fund border security, invest in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure to reduce traffic in Colorado, and bolster our national security.”

Oddly, though, one of the biggest foreign policy announcements in Trump’s speech yesterday–one with direct relevance to Sen. Gardner as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee–went totally unmentioned by Gardner in his response. Trump is set to meet once again with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un at the end of this month:

“Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam,” he added…

Trump’s announcement Tuesday came just hours after news of a confidential United Nations report that found North Korea is moving its nuclear and ballistic weapons to hide them from potential US military strikes.

The North Korean nuclear and missile program remains intact and shows no change in Pyongyang’s behavior, the biannual report says. [Pols emphasis]

The continuing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program, despite Trump’s claims of progress and now the rewarding of the North Korean regime with a second face-to-face meeting with Kim Jong Un, was something Gardner personally expressed concern about in an opinion piece posted to FOX News yesterday:

Make no mistake about it: North Korea still remains a clear and present danger to the safety and security of the American people. So far, no concrete action toward CVID has taken place; decommissioning already destroyed or obsolete facilities does not count. Without concrete steps toward CVID, the only thing Kim Jong Un appears to be committed to is the regime-standard ploy of delay and non-compliance.

That assessment is entirely correct as we understand the situation. The question is, why didn’t Gardner say anything about Kim Jong Un being rewarded with another undeserved summit in his glowing sendup of Trump’s State of the Union address? After all, Gardner slammed President Obama for talks with lower level North Korean officials in the absence of “tough preconditions” that have in no way been met even now.

Bottom line: Sen. Cory Gardner is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia. His leadership role on relations with North Korea makes this omission more than a mere oversight. For whatever reason, Gardner is unwilling or unable to directly confront Trump over his decisions on North Korea–even as he admits to the problem in other forums.

It’s just another example of Gardner trying to appease both Trump and reality, and failing.

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Nomination Of Former Oil Industry Lawyer Is “Fantastic News For Colorado,” Says Gardner

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

Reactions diverged wildly today to Trump’s nomination of Colorado native and former oil industry lobbyist David Bernhardt for Secretary of Interior, with a leader of a Denver-based environmental group calling Bernhardt an “affront to America’s parks and public lands” and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner saying his appointment is “fantastic news for Colorado.”

“I’ve known David Bernhardt for many years and have worked closely with him over the last two years to advance Colorado priorities,” Gardner, a Republican, said in a statement. “As a native Coloradan from the Western Slope, David knows how important public lands are to our state and has a keen understanding of the issues Coloradans face every day. From moving the Bureau of Land Management to the West to promoting conservation programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Coloradans will be lucky to have David lead our Interior Department. I look forward to supporting him throughout the confirmation process.”

During his tenure at Denver law firm  Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Bernhardt served as a lawyer for oil and gas companies, which is one reason Jennifer Rokala, Director of the Center for Western Priorities, said Bernhardt shouldn’t be confirmed.

“David Bernhardt’s nomination is an affront to America’s parks and public lands,” said Rokala in a statement. “As an oil and gas lobbyist, Bernhardt pushed to open vast swaths of public lands for drilling and mining. As deputy secretary, he was behind some of the worst policy decisions of Secretary Zinke’s sad tenure, including stripping protections for imperiled wildlife. Bernhardt even used the government shutdown to approve drilling permits for companies linked to his former clients.”

Rokala’s statement directed reporters to a list of actions Bernhardt is undertaking at the request of oil and gas companies that he’s allegedly represented in some way and represent conflicts of interest.

“As senators consider Bernhardt’s nomination, it’s crucial they remember that the ongoing investigations into Ryan Zinke’s conduct intersect with policies that David Bernhardt has helped enact. Otherwise, we’ll see another Interior secretary fall into the same ethical abyss that ended Ryan Zinke’s political career. If a walking conflict of interest like David Bernhardt gets confirmed, oversight and true transparency will be more important than ever.”

Bernhardt is currently deputy Secretary of Interior, and would replace Ryan Zinke, who was praised by Colorado Republicans not long before he resigned under pressure and amid ethics investigations.

ColoradoPolitics reported today:

He met Zinke when he volunteered to help with the Trump transition team, then helped prepare Zinke for his confirmation hearings as Interior secretary.

Both of Colorado’s U.S. senators — Republican Cory Gardner and Democrat Michael Bennet — voted to confirm Bernhardt as deputy Interior secretary in July 2017, but most of Bennet’s Democratic colleagues opposed the nominee, as did several environmental groups. The confirmation vote was 53-43

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Gardner Supports EPA Decision Not To Regulate Toxic Chemicals In Colorado Drinking Water

(Drink up! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Trump administration is refusing to regulate two toxic chemicals known to contaminate the drinking water of many Americans, including tens of thousands of families near Colorado Springs.

The decision by Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has angered many Republicans in Congress, but not Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner.

This is despite the fact that studies have shown that nearly 80,000 people living near Peterson Air Force Base, just southeast of Colorado Springs, are exposed to dangerously high levels of contamination and have been for years.

[Gardner] told POLITICO he expected there would be a federal role in regulating the chemicals, but he wanted to see the results of a health study included in the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

“I think it’s very important that we get as much information as we can and then act appropriately,” he said.

The study Sen. Gardner is referring to won’t begin until August of this year and will take five to seven years to complete. Funded by the Department of Defense and conducted by the Health & Human Services’ Agency For Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the national study of eight sites near U. S. military bases may or may not include the Peterson AFB site.

The chemicals known collectively as PFAS have been largely phased out of industrial use in the United States, but are still found in the fire retardant foam used to fight petroleum-based fires.

Numerous studies linked these chemicals to kidney cancer, liver damage, increased risk of thyroid disease, decreased fertility and other health threats.

Last summer the Trump administration attempted to block its own Department of Health and Human Services from releasing an 852-page “toxicological profile” summarizing the “adverse health effects information for these toxic substances.”

In December 2018 the Colorado School of Mines released a study of people living near of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. Research showed levels of a particular PFAS toxic compound, PFHxS, at ten times the national average.

This followed a 2017 health assessment by the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) that found higher rates of cancer among the Peterson AFB communities of Fountain and Security-Widefield.

(more…)

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In Blaming Democrats For The Government Shutdown, Gardner Misled Reporters About A Previous U.S. Senate Vote

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

During the recent government shutdown, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) blamed Democrats for the impasse, and essentially called them hypocrites, because they’d voted last year for a $25 billion bipartisan compromise that included funds for a border wall.

And therefore, Gardner said repeatedly, Democrats should have no problem approving over $5 billion for a wall this time around.

For example, Gardner told FOX News’ “Fox and Friends” in December:

“Months ago [U.S. Senate Democrats] supported $25 billion in border security funding. Now they support less than a fifth of that. This is a massive cut in border security that the Democrats are now proposing…” “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say, ‘Just a few months ago, you agreed to $25 billion in border security; why are you trying to cut border security now?’ And I hope they will agree, ‘Yes, let’s get this done.'”

But in saying this, Gardner repeatedly misled reporters, because the $25 billion bipartisan border-security deal, approved in February of last year in a 54-45 U.S. Senate vote, also included a 12-year path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants.

It’s glaring manipulation for Gardner to leave this out, given how important a path to citizenship has been for Democrats and Dreamers.

In January, toward the end of the recent shutdown, Trump offered Democrats a border-security deal that included some relief for young undocumented immigrants facing deportation.

But the deal offered by Trump had no path to citizenship for Dreamers, instead offering three years of protection from deportation for fewer immigrants than the February, 2017, package that was supported by U.S. Senate Democrats.

In fact, Trump’s offer toward the end of the shutdown didn’t do much for young immigrants, who are barred from deportation anyway pending court decisions.

But Gardner continued to be relentless, on multiple media platforms, in insisting that Democrats had once supported the Trump deal that was on the table.

In mid-January, Gardner said on KVOR’s Jeff Crank Show (at 1 min 30 sec):

“Just a few months ago, we had $25 billion worth of border security that both Democrats and Republicans voted for.”

Again, in this interview and others, he didn’t mention that the deal included a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

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Mike Johnston Enters Race for U.S. Senate

Mike Johnston (center)

As had been expected, former State Senator and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston has joined the 2020 race for U.S. Senate.

The Denver Post had the official announcement this morning:

The 44-year-old father of three joins a growing list of Democrats competing for the chance to challenge Gardner in what is expected to be one of the most high profile and contentious Senate races in the country in 2020. Gardner, a first-term senator, is the only Republican to win a Senate, gubernatorial or presidential race in Colorado since 2008.

Johnston is not the first Democrat to enter the field for 2020, though his is the first name with any real chance of winning the Democratic nomination (sorry, Lorena Garcia, Trish Zornio, and Keith Pottratz). Plenty of other Democrats are also looking to squeeze into the 2020 clown car, including former House Speakers Andrew Romanoff and Crisanta Duran. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper is also regularly mentioned as a potential candidate, though it seems much more likely that Hick will stick to his Presidential aspirations in 2020.

Johnston wheezed to a third-place finish in last June’s Primary for Governor, so the big question for him is whether or not he’s already reached his political ceiling as a statewide politician. Johnston looks like a fine General Election candidate on paper, but can he make it to November? This is, after all, the same guy who pulled out of the caucus/assembly process altogether in 2018 after it became clear that he didn’t have a strong base of support among the Democratic base. As Corey Hutchins of the Colorado Independent wrote in April 2018:

Since March 6, Johnston has been showing up and giving speeches at county assemblies, but he hasn’t caught fire with the delegates to the extent that Kennedy and Polis have.

Johnston has long been packaged as an up-and-comer who takes a different approach to electoral politics; his 2018 campaign, however, managed to be both vanilla (“Frontier Fairness“!) and gimmicky at the same time. If his 2020 Senate kickoff is any indication, Johnston is still “turkey and Swiss on wheat.” From today’s Denver Post:

“I think one of the things that gives me a real advantage is people are looking for someone who represents Colorado,” Johnston told The Denver Post in announcing his run. “I’m a fluent Spanish speaker, and I’ve had a diverse set of experiences and jobs in all parts of Colorado.”

“He Speaks Spanish and He Likes Colorado” probably won’t end up on a yard sign anytime soon.

Nevertheless, Johnston could still be a formidable candidate because he has demonstrated an ability to raise serious money from donors all across the country. One of the main reasons that then-Rep. Cory Gardner was able to waltz into the 2014 Republican nomination for U.S. Senate was the complete inability of GOP candidates to raise significant funds for a viable campaign (See: Stephens, Amy).

Early money and a head start on other candidates are very real advantages for Johnston. Of course, Johnston had these same advantages in the 2018 gubernatorial race, and it only got him about 24% of the Democratic vote.

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Cory Gardner Endorses Trump in 2020

Sen. Cory Gardner (right) departs Air Force One behind President Trump in 2018.

In the fall of 2016, back when it was still inconceivable to most people that Donald J. Trump might actually end up as the President of the United States, it wasn’t hard to find a Republican seeking distance between themselves and the Republican nominee for President. Media outlets often referred to these Republican politicians as “Never Trumpers.”

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was one of these “Never Trumpers.” Gardner called for Trump to drop out of the race for President following the release of the infamous “Access Hollywood.” Not only did Gardner pull his support of Trump — he didn’t even vote for him. Gardner has repeatedly said that he wrote in the name “Mike Pence” on his 2016 ballot rather than vote for Trump.

Naturally, Gardner has now formally endorsed President Trump for re-election in 2020.

As IJR.com reports, Gardner is completely onboard with a second term:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), another Republican senator who vocally opposed Trump in 2016, told IJR that he’s endorsing the president now because it’s the “right thing to do for Colorado.”

“Look, there are things here — look, I’ve made it very clear that where I agree with the president, we will agree or where I disagree, we will disagree,” Gardner told IJR. “But I’m going to fight like hell for Colorado, and we’ve done some good things for Colorado.

“I know what Kamala Harris and I know what Bernie Sanders will do to Colorado, and that’s why I’ll be supporting the president,” Gardner added.

Gardner called for Trump to step aside in 2016 and said the only way Republicans would defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton “is with a new nominee that reflects the values of our country and our party.”

“I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.”

— Sen. Cory Gardner, Oct. 8, 2016

 

Supporting the President in 2020 is “the right thing to do for Colorado.”

— Sen. Cory Gardner, Jan. 30, 2019

As we discussed on Tuesday, a new poll from Keating Research shows just how out-of-tune Trump and Gardner have become with Colorado voters; both politicians own an approval rating of just 39%. Gardner’s poll numbers in Colorado have been in the toilet since 2016, and even his base is leaving him; conservative columnists see right through Gardner’s attempts at appearing to be “bipartisan.”

When Gardner was shown departing Air Force One right behind President Trump in August 2018, he gave up any pretense of separation with Trump. Formally endorsing Trump’s re-election now is a bit odd, however, considering that we don’t yet know the results of the Mueller Investigation and Americans are still angry about the government shutdown. Gardner will now be expected to stand alongside Trump whenever the President campaigns in Colorado, which is a hell of an albatross for any politician.

Perhaps Gardner feels that he needs to make a public endorsement in order to stave off any potential primary opponents, because this move certainly won’t help him with a general electorate in Colorado.

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Gardner: ‘Most Dangerous Thing’ To Come From 2016 Election Is The ‘Normalization Of Socialism’ By Sen. Sanders

(This is a joke, right? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

President Trump (left) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

In remarks made on local conservative talk radio last week, Colorado’s Republican Sen. Cory Gardner said he thinks “the most dangerous thing to come out of the 2016 election” was the “normalization of socialism by Bernie Sanders.”

Here’s Gardner’s full quote from Thursday’s Ross Kaminsky Show on KHOW radio with guest host Krista Kafer:

GARDNER: “Well, look, I mean, you’ve got an incredible thing happening in Venezuela right now, where the United States recognized the sort of opposition leader in Venezuela, trying to take down Maduro. And remember what President Trump had said to the United Nations over a year ago: he said Venezuela isn’t a failed example of socialism, it is an example of what socialism does to a country. And I think the most dangerous thing to come out of the 2016 election was this normalization of socialism by Bernie Sanders. And that’s what we ought to be focusing on as well, here: defeating those who want to espouse and bring socialism here to the people of the United States, people who are talking about 80% tax increases, people who say they’d rather be – something like – morally correct than factually right – or something like that. [chuckles] I mean, this is talk of a radical left that I don’t think represents the people of Colorado or this country.”

It’s a bold statement considering the tumult that followed the 2016 election.

For example, there’s the news that a hostile foreign power attempted to interfere in our elections, the nation’s growing partisan divide, and the rising tide of white nationalism that led to a deadly rally in Charlottesville, to name a few.

But bashing Democratic Socialism is in vogue for the GOP amid the rise in popularity of politicians like Sanders and New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who’s dominated headlines on conservative media platforms lately.

Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking to know if the senator thinks Russian meddling or Trump or anything else is actually more dangerous than the normalization of socialism.

Gardner also bashed the increasingly popular Democratic “Medicare for all” healthcare policy, condemning it as an example of “why socialism is so dangerous.”

GARDNER: “…going back to what you said earlier, too, just about Medicare – Medicaid For All. I have talked to hospitals. If we go to a single payer system like this, they will cut services. I was just in Grand Junction, talking to their hospitals. They will lose services and healthcare programs if they move to this kind of a program – Medicaid — Medicare For All, I mean.  They just – they can’t make it work. And that’s why socialism is so dangerous, is it hurts the very people that they’re saying they’re trying to help.”

Like much of the GOP, Gardner has struggled when it comes pushing a clear health care policy, shunning Democratic proposals while failing to put forth one of his own. He’s been harshly criticized for repeatedly attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act without having a system to take its place.

Polling has consistently shown widespread support for a Medicare for all-type policy. A Reuters-Ipsos poll from October showed 70 percent support for the policy nationwide, including 52 percent support from Republican voters.

Although a bit jarring, Gardner’s assertion about the dangers of socialism following the 2016 election isn’t new. In fact, his comments on the radio last week appear to be recycled directly from his speech at the 2018 Western Conservative Summit in Denver:

GARDNER: “The most dangerous thing to happen in America in the 2016 Presidential election was Bernie Sanders normalization of socialism. Bernie normalized socialism for a broad set of the electorate, mainly young voters.”

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Keating/OnSight Poll: Trump Sucks, The Wall Sucks, Gardner Sucks

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

A new poll from Keating Research of Colorado voters shows about what you’d expect the January after a wave Democratic election with nothing in the interim to boost Republican fortunes–continued low favorability for both President Donald Trump and Colorado’s highest-ranking Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, and little appetite for the Republican agenda generally:

Colorado voters remain unimpressed with Donald Trump, with majorities blaming him for the government shutdown and opposing plans to spend $5.6 billion for a wall on the southern border with Mexico, according to results of the latest Keating Research-OnSight Public Affairs poll released today.

In a survey of 500 active Colorado voters, Trump was viewed unfavorably by 60% of respondents. Trump’s low favorability with Colorado voters — 39 percent — is identical to that of Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. Both Trump and Gardner are up for re-election in 2020.

Both Trump and Gardner clock in a favorability that spells big problems for either of them here in 2020. In Trump’s case, locked-in unfavorability is much higher than Gardner’s 43%, but still underwater–and with Trump likely at the top of the ticket with Gardner in 2020, it’s collateral damage Gardner is likely to suffer. 58% of respondents oppose the construction of Trump’s wall, and 53% blame Trump for the recently-ended shutdown.

“Having seen Republicans in Colorado washed away at all levels by the midterm blue wave, Senator Gardner has been frantically trying to move to the middle. But it’s likely too little too late given the advantages Democrats will have in Colorado in a presidential election year and the Trump anchor around his legs,” said Curtis Hubbard of OnSight Public Affairs.

Difficult to argue with that assessment. Here are your toplines and crosstabs.

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Another Gold Star for Cory Gardner!

Cory Gardner is the best at attendance.

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is the politician equivalent of a toddler in potty training. Sure, he still craps in his pants, but as long as he tries to make it to a toilet first, then confetti falls from the sky in celebration.

Can we raise the bar a little here?

Earlier this month, the editorial board of The Denver Post gave Gardner a great big huzzah because…wait for it…he publicly called on his colleagues to end the federal government shutdown. Of course, this accomplished absolutely nothing, and Gardner spent the next week telling right-wing audiences that he was actually firmly behind President Trump’s border wall shakedown.

On Wednesday, Gardner revealed that he was ready to cast his vote to re-open the government without funding for Trump’s great big border wall. From The Denver Post:

Gardner’s spokesman told us Wednesday he intends to vote for a clean funding bill that would open the government with no increased border-security funding attached.

It’s the right thing to do…

Yes, it is the right thing to do. But Gardner’s declaration is also meaningless because it was announced only after it became clear that Senate legislation to end the shutdown had no chance of passage anyway.

Gardner’s spokesman said Wednesday night that the senator has long opposed shutdowns, including the 2013 shutdown. He said Gardner will also vote for the second measure to open the government.

Neat.

Gardner likes to say that he is opposed to government shutdowns, as though this is somehow meaningful in preventing or ending legislative stalemates. Saying that you are opposed to a shutdown is like an anti-vaxxer saying that they are opposed to the measles. Nobody is “pro-measles,” but not everybody is going to vaccinate their children to prevent the spread of measles. The important question isn’t, “Do you support measles?,” but, “What are you going to do to prevent the spread of measles?”

If you asked every U.S. Senator if they thought that Congress should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open, every single one of them would agree. Every. Single. One. Everybody thinks we should end the government shutdown, but Republicans still aren’t willing to put pressure on their President to make it stop.

Cory Gardner is not just some rogue Senator

This is the same basic strategy Gardner employed in 2013 when he regularly claimed that he never voted to support a shutdown. Of course, nobody voted in favor of a shutdown — nobody voted against it, either — because that’s not how a shutdown works. Gardner’s words then were as pointless as saying, I never agreed to be allergic to peanuts! 

How does Gardner keep getting away with this? Let’s go back to today’s Post editorial once more:

This shutdown has gone on far too long, and there’s no one to blame but Trump. We hope he comes to his senses and agrees to open the government and then consider an immigration reform package that includes money for border security.

President Trump owns this shutdown — as he said he would — and Americans overwhelmingly agree that Trump and Republicans deserve most of the blame here. But TRUMP IS NOT THE ONLY ONE TO BLAME. As Politico reports:

The Senate will take its first votes in more than a month on reopening government. [Pols emphasis] But both a clean spending bill and President Donald Trump’s proposal appear on course to fail.

Though a short-term spending bill giving the president no new border funding bill passed the Senate with no dissent in December, it’s poised to fail on the Senate floor on Thursday. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the Nos. 3 and 4 GOP leaders, both said Wednesday that the “continuing resolution” cannot pass the Senate.

The House of Representatives has voted numerous times this month in favor of legislation to end the shutdown and re-open various branches of government. Today the Senate is holding its first vote in more than a month on the shutdown, and Republicans don’t have enough support from their own caucus to get anything passed that would end the shutdown. Gardner was recently named a Deputy Whip for Senate Republicans — it’s part of his job to get other Republican Senators to fall in line, and he’s failing at it. So why are we talking about how Gardner plans to vote on a bill that is already dead?

When Gardner says stuff like, “I think we should pass a continuing resolution,” he’s really talking about an imaginary bill that already has the approval of President Trump. He might as well just say, “I think we should fix all of America’s problems.”

What we actually need to know from Gardner and other Senate Republicans is simple: Can you get your colleagues to support overriding a veto of a continuing resolution with no border wall funding? Everything else is irrelevant.

If Cory Gardner can “whip” his Republican colleagues into supporting legislation to end the shutdown and hold firm against President Trump’s veto threats, then we’ll be the first ones in line to pat him on the back. But you don’t get a gold star just for showing up.

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New Ad Calls On Gardner To End Shutdown

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado’s morning news watchers got a dose of politics with their coffee earlier today. A new ad campaign launched today is calling Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) to account for his role in the now month-long government shutdown.

Noting the unprecedented length of the shutdown, the ad lists several serious consequences, including 800,000 workers going with paychecks, food safety inspection stoppages, and increasing risks to air travel.

The ad also accuses Gardner of “siding with party leaders who refuse to even allow a vote to reopen the government.” It asks Coloradans to call Gardner and tell the senator to “demand and end to the shutdown.”

Over two weeks ago Gardner said he would vote to end the shutdown without funding for the border wall. That statement that runs contrary to the ad’s message, but since then he hasn’t repeated that position nor taken any public steps to end the shutdown. He was, however, appointed deputy whip by Senate leadership.

Majority Forward, a national nonprofit linked to the Democrats’ Senate Majority political action committee, is running the reportedly six-figure ad buy on cable and broadcast channels in the Denver media market.

“Sen. Gardner is not interested in demonstrating independence. This shutdown has impacted Colorado and Gardner refuses to demand a vote to reopen the government. He refuses real action while the repercussions of a closed government set in and have economic consequences for frustrated Coloradans across the state.”

— J.B. Poersch, President, Majority Forward

The campaign is also targeting five other states with Republican senators up for re-election in 2020 – Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Maine and North Carolina.

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