The National Immigration Forum, a national advocacy group, gave Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) a “Courage to Lead Award” Thursday for his work on immigration legislation last year–not for the senator’s overall record on immigration issues.
The decision by the Forum, a national pro-immigrant group, to recognize Gardner surprised immigration experts, who say Gardner, who’s up for re-election next year, has mostly been a conservative hardliner on immigration.
“From a Republican perspective, that is certainly not an easy thing to do these days,” said Noorani, referring to Gardner’s role in pushing the 2018 legislation.
But the award was narrowly intended to recognize the senator’s work last year, and it should not be seen as praise for Gardner’s overall record on immigration, Noorani said.
The Forum’s decision to recognize Gardner, he said, was not based on an assessment of his immigration votes, statements, or any other actions during his career in the Senate, U.S. House, or the Colorado Legislature.
A wider review of Gardner’s record shows him to be consistently obstructing or blocking immigration reform, even, in the U.S. House, opposing the Dream Act itself and Obama’s DACA rules to protect Dreamers.
As a Colorado state representative, he went beyond the typical hard-line approach of the era, siding with extremists who favored withholding immunizations, other preventative care, and schooling for immigrant kids.
And he apparently still opposes a Colorado law, called ASSET, that grants in-state tuition for Dreamers, who would otherwise likely be priced out of college.
“But we can’t start putting in place in-state tuition, whether it’s other things that are being placed by the states, without actually addressing the root problem that will only continue more illegal immigration into this country,” Gardner told a conservative KNUS radio host in 2013. “And so, that’s why we’ve got to have a policy that actually works, and I believe it starts with border security.”
Pols readers might be interested in the post, below, by Kery Murakami, which appeared in the Colorado Times Recorder Friday.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R).
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has been talking up Colorado’s new reinsurance plan, which is expected to lower health insurance premiums for individuals next year by almost a fifth.
He’s also been taking credit for getting federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to approve the program, saying in a press release in July he weighed in “a number of times” to get permission.
But Gardner’s trumpeting of a program is causing eye-rolling by national healthcare experts.
That’s because Gardner was a major player in killing a similar provision of the Affordable Care Act that aimed to do the same thing as Colorado’s program, deriding it as taxpayer “bailouts” of insurance companies.
It was two weeks ago that Republican Members of Congress stormed a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the basement of the Capitol in order to highlight their protest that impeachment investigations were unjust because hearings were held behind closed doors (nevermind that Republican members of these particular House committees were always able to attend the hearings).
Two days later, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) co-sponsored a resolution in the Senate criticizing the House for a lack of openness on impeachment matters. “I hope people will read the resolution and that everyone supports a fair and transparent process,” said Gardner. This was more than Gardner had said previously about President Trump’s actions; Gardner infamously bombed in front of a group of reporters when asked whether it was appropriate for the President of the United States to ask a foreign government to interfere in American elections.
Today, Gardner and his fellow Republicans learned once more that following Trump’s lead will only get you hopelessly lost:
Via CNN (11/8/19)
President Trump now says that Democrats should NOT hold public impeachment hearings after he and Republicans spent weeks bemoaning the fact that hearings were being done outside the public view. “They shouldn’t be having public hearings,” said Trump on Friday. “This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt.”
None of this should be a surprise to anyone who has paid even a lick of attention to national news in the last couple of years. Republicans are continually sticking their necks out for a President who won’t even blink at doing something to contradict their every word. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chair, ran into a similar problem just a few days after supporting the GOP’s SCIF Storming when it became clear that officials involved with Trump’s Ukraine dealings were confirming every bit of the whistleblower’s fears.
House Democrats had already effectively neutered the Republican’s “lack of transparency” strategy by agreeing to make everything public (on-camera testimony in House committees will begin next week). That hadn’t stopped the GOP from continuing with their attacks on the legitimacy of the “process” for impeachment discussions, but Democrats don’t really need to undermine the Republican strategy when President Trump will do it for them.
The cover art for today’s Politico Magazinetop story, a photo collage of AP and Getty images by Zach Meyer, is turning heads–a depiction of President Donald Trump and key Republican lawmakers in the style of the Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci. On the left you’ll find Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who has embraced Trump in recent months despite the state he represents turning decidedly hostile toward the President (and the President’s party) in recent elections. The thinking here we assume is that despite Gardner’s steadfast support of Trump up to now, Gardner’s personal vulnerability could well make a turncoat of him before the end.
With that said, we will grant that this depiction is a little better imagewise for Gardner than the Politico Magazine headline he earned after his narrow win in 2014:
President Trump wanted Attorney General William P. Barr to hold a news conference declaring that the commander in chief had broken no laws during a phone call in which he pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate a political rival, though Barr ultimately declined to do so, people familiar with the matter said.
The request from Trump traveled from the president to other White House officials and eventually to the Justice Department. The president has mentioned Barr’s demurral to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished Barr would have held the news conference, Trump advisers say.
In recent weeks, the Justice Department has sought some distance from the White House, particularly on matters relating to the burgeoning controversy over Trump’s dealings on Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry they sparked…
…The request for the news conference came sometime around Sept. 25, when the administration released a rough transcript of the president’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Can you guess what President Trump is saying in his defense? If you selected “Fake News,” then you can move your piece ahead three spaces on the board.
► Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence who was listening in on the infamous July 25 call between President Trump and Ukraine’s President, is testifying behind closed doors today as part of the House impeachment investigation. The White House had attempted to block Williams from testifying despite a Congressional subpoena. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton was requested to testify today but is not expected to appear.
► Public impeachment hearings will begin next week in the House of Representatives, and nobody in Trumpland is looking forward to what happens next. As Politico notes, this week’s release of transcripts from recent closed-door testimonies have one thing in common: They’re all BRUTAL for President Trump.
Rudy Giuliani was President Donald Trump’s enforcer, circumventing official channels and bewildering professional diplomats as he pressured Ukraine to target Trump’s political opponents.
Along the way, career foreign service officers became collateral damage — and questions of a Trump-authorized quid pro quo emerged, blowing up into a scandal that now imperils the Trump presidency.
Those are the unchallenged details revealed so far in five transcripts of depositions released this week as part of the House impeachment inquiry. And as Democrats prepare for public hearings next week, they are underscoring the common thread running through the witnesses’ accounts.
“I think you will see throughout the course of the testimony — not only their testimony but many others — the most important facts are largely not contested,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Wednesday.
Dana Milbank of The Washington Post wonders if the meticulous note-taking habits of diplomat Bill Taylor might be Trump’s equivalent of the “Nixon tapes.”
► There are still a number of races in Aurora waiting to be called, as the Aurora Sentinel reports — including the question of whether or not former Congressman Mike Coffman has been elected Mayor:
As of 5 p.m. Nov. 6 about 15,000 ballots remain un-tabulated, according to Arapahoe County clerk spokesperson Winna MacLaren. Counting will resume Thursday…
…Though pressed by reporters to claim victory Tuesday night, Coffman agreed that thousands of outstanding ballots could still sway the vote. The candidate currently in second-place in the race for Aurora mayor, Omar Montgomery, had not conceded as of Wednesday evening.
In the at-large contest, councilwoman Angela Lawson and challenger Curtis Gardner led the race for the two posts up for grabs. For Ward 4, incumbent Charlie Richardson was edging challenger Juan Marcano. In Ward 5, incumbent Rob Roth held a narrow lead over Allison Coombs, and in Ward 6, incumbent Francoise Bergan was comfortably ahead of Bryan Lindstrom.
This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii try to figure out how Republicans will defend President Trump now that more impeachment information is becoming public; consider what amounts to a bribe for Sen. Cory Gardner; and play another round of “Duke or Donald,” this time with guest contestant Geof Cahoon, a longtime labor union activist and MoveOn organizer.
► It’s Election Day today! Here are the latest ballot return figures analyzed by GOP polling outfit Magellan Strategies. For you last-minute voters, here’s a handy voting guide from The Denver Post. The Colorado National Guard will be assisting the Secretary of State’s office with cybersecurity matters.
For more of a national perspective, check out NPR’s Election Day guide. The biggest races are in Kentucky and Mississippi, where Democrats have a chance to win their respective battles for Governor in traditionally red states. The gubernatorial race in Kentucky could also be a significant moment for the issue of Medicaid work requirements.
► According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, President Trump’s approval ratings remain stagnant and he’s not looking good compared to potential Democratic rivals:
The new poll highlights the degree to which most of the country already has made a judgment about the president’s performance and their voting preferences next year. Among the 39 percent of registered voters who approve of Trump’s job performance, Trump is winning at least 95 percent support against each of five possible Democratic opponents. But among the 58 percent of voters who disapprove of Trump, he receives no more than 7 percent support.
Former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) run strongest against the president nationally, with Biden leading by 17 points (56 percent to 39 percent), Warren by 15 points (55 percent to 40 percent) and Sanders by 14 points (55 percent to 41 percent).
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), the other two Democrats tested against Trump, also lead the president among registered voters, with Buttigieg up by 52 percent to 41 percent, and Harris ahead by 51 percent to 42 percent.
This data is all wrong, argues President Trump, who says “I have the real polls.” As CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains:
Faced with a slew of national polls that show roughly half the country supports not only his impeachment but also his removal from office, President Donald Trump did what he always does: Just say stuff.
Regardless of whether Trump’s super-secret polls really do exist, there are other numbers that murky the picture for 2020. As Nate Cohn notes for the New York Times, Trump opponents still have that pesky Electoral College thing to worry about:
Despite low national approval ratings and the specter of impeachment, President Trump remains highly competitive in the battleground states likeliest to decide his re-election, according to a set of new surveys from The New York Times Upshot and Siena College.
Across the six closest states that went Republican in 2016, he trails Joe Biden by an average of two points among registered voters but stays within the margin of error.
Mr. Trump leads Elizabeth Warren by two points among registered voters, the same margin as his win over Hillary Clinton in these states three years ago.
The poll showed Bernie Sanders deadlocked with the president among registered voters, but trailing among likely voters.
As we wrote in this space in September, there’s a very obvious and straightforward reason for why Republicans don’t want to move away from the Electoral College and toward a popular vote system of choosing our Commander in Chief.
► House Democrats released a second round of transcripts from recent impeachment hearings; today’s batch includes testimony from US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and former US Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker.
On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee released transcripts from the testimony of former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and former State Department adviser Michael McKinley. CNN takes a look at some of the key lines in each transcript, as does The Washington Post. It appears that at least one section of McKinley’s testimony contradicts comments made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
BIG: Sondland made a Nov. 4 addendum to his testimony saying his memory had been “refreshed” and that he now remembers telling a Zelensky aide that “resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement.”https://t.co/hmjfEXWLJFpic.twitter.com/bMYru7USQX
UPDATE: While we wait to hear from Sen. Cory Gardner on the Paris Agreement, here’s a clip from a few years ago of Gardner positively going off at the Steamboat Institute over the liberal “war on coal.”
On Monday, the Trump administration notified the United Nations of its intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, effective Nov. 4, 2020. The nonbinding agreement, in which nearly every other country is a signatory, seeks to limit the global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels through voluntary carbon emissions reduction.
Democratic policymakers in Colorado reacted with harsh criticism of the decision. As of yet, no Congressional Republicans have responded.
Colorado Democrats are livid as one would expect, even though Donald Trump’s plan to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement has been known for years now–Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder:
As communities across our country experience dangerous wildfires, flooding, extreme weather events and costly impacts, we need bold leadership on climate.
Instead, this Administration is choosing to abandon our commitments and abdicate our leadership position. https://t.co/2O2dv3NJzw
The question of Republican support for Trump’s pullout from the Paris Agreement is especially timely in Colorado, since vulnerable incumbent GOP Sen. Cory Gardner has switched message tracks in recent days from 2014’s “New Kind of Republican” championing renewable energy to “oil and gas defender” as Gardner works to shore up support on his weak right flank. Despite this updated conservative-friendly message on energy, Gardner still can’t afford to look like a complete throwback on an issue he’s paid significant lip service to over the years.
What will Gardner say when he’s cornered on the Paris Agreement?
Most likely as little as possible, followed by a quick-march to the nearest exit!
Facing online and on-air criticisms this week from environmental groups, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner is portraying himself as a steadfast defender of Colorado’s oil and gas industry in an era of unprecedented progressive attacks…
Gardner, a Yuma Republican, faces a tough re-election fight next year in an increasingly liberal Colorado. He has hinted in these early months of his re-election campaign that he will focus heavily on the threat of socialism and the Democratic Party’s leftward swing as he rallies his Republican base and makes his case to undecided voters.
“Renewable energy sources like wind and solar must be a part of our long-term energy outlook, but we shouldn’t be sacrificing traditional energy sources to fulfill the pipe dream that is the Green New Deal,” Gardner said in a statement. “The far left’s radical agenda to ban oil and gas would be a disaster for Colorado and eliminate over 80,000 jobs in our state alone.”
On the campaign trail for the U.S. Senate in 2014, one of now-Sen. Cory Gardner’s major objectives was to reduce his Democratic incumbent opponent Sen. Mark Udall’s overwhelming advantage with swingable voters who value environmental protection and the state’s longstanding policy emphasis on clean energy development. Gardner used words like “all of the above” to describe his energy agenda, but it was much more important for Gardner to prove he wasn’t a fossil-fuel throwback with swing voters crucial to what turned out to be a very narrow margin of victory for Gardner over Sen. Udall.
Thus “Windmill Cory,” another of so many of Gardner’s personas of convenience in his political career–which included as our readers know registering as a Democrat–was born.
In 2020, however, Gardner confronts a very different electoral dynamic. What Gardner is up to today with these rote attacks on “socialism” and stalwart defense of the oil and gas industry is much less optional than it might first appear, and that’s important to understanding why Gardner is counterintuitively running right in a state whose overall political trajectory since Gardner’s election to the Senate has been consistently left. Gardner is extraordinarily weak among base Republicans, as evidenced by hard poll numbers and a wealth of often-colorful talk radio anecdotes. Before Gardner can make any kind of play for the electorate that put Democrats overwhelmingly in charge of Colorado in the 2018 elections, Gardner is obliged to convince Republicans who are tepid at best in their support that he is worth fighting for.
The fact that Gardner is having to shore up his base on the right with red-meat ads like this one, instead of laying claim to the “post partisan” credentials that we believe increasingly will be the only way for Republicans to win statewide in Colorado as the state continues to demographically blue, is another sign of how fundamentally vulnerable Gardner is going into next year’s elections. Today’s radicalized, fact-averse, Trump-devoted Republican base in Colorado effectively prevents Gardner from attempting the political metamorphosis he barely pulled off in 2014. And without a reinvention on that magnitude or greater, Cory Gardner can’t win.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner joined fellow Republicans Wednesday in voting to maintain a Trump rule that encourages states to allow the sale of so-called “junk” health insurance that wouldn’t cover people with pre-existing conditions.
Even Gardner’s GOP Senate colleague, Susan Collins of Maine, who was the sole Republican to vote with Democrats Wednesday, has stated the Trump rule allows for the sale health insurance plans that “do not provide protections for enrollees who suffer from pre-existing conditions.”
A second apparent falsehood in Gardner’s statement explaining his vote Wednesday left already-head-scratching observers scratching their heads harder.
Newsweekreports on the fallout from yesterday’s big story covered in this space, fundraising by President Donald Trump on behalf of vulnerable Republican incumbent Senators including Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado ahead of their likely service as jurors in an impeachment trial against the President–a situation that gives rise to pretty straightforward corruption allegations:
Attorney Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, warned on Thursday that President Donald Trump appeared to be committing “felony bribery” by giving Republican senators fundraising cash ahead of an increasingly likely impeachment trial in the Senate.
The lawyer shared an article published by Politico on Thursday morning. Titled “Trump lures GOP senators on impeachment with cold cash,” the article outlined how the president is turning to his large network of donors to raise funds for a few senators facing difficult re-election campaigns in 2020. All of those senators have also signed a resolution condemning the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry…
“The senators can raise their own campaign cash. Any senator who accepts cash from @realDonaldTrump before the impeachment trial is guilty of accepting a bribe and should go to the slammer,” he tweeted. [Pols emphasis]
Folks, he’s talking about Cory Gardner–and not just with this latest fundraising appeal, but Gardner co-headlining the Trump campaign’s fall fundraising “retreat” and joining President Trump personally for a joint National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) fundraiser later this month. It’s a fair question that really only applies at a high-drama moment like impeachment, when the Senate has the power to remove a President: at what point does Gardner’s acceptance of Trump’s largesse stop being party loyalty and become something closer to bribery?
There’s the legal question, then there’s the optics. For the purposes of Gardner’s political survival, neither seem helpful.
The only obvious step forward is to actually consider the case against President Trump and to vote accordingly. As the editorial board of the Aurora Sentinel wrote on Wednesday:
Credible, compelling, consistent and growing allegations against Trump extorting Ukraine for his own political gain have reached a tipping point…
…Trump himself has now offered honest Republicans a way out of having to defend an indefensible, lying, untrustworthy and incompetent president. Trump has admitted his “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Democrats are documenting them and making the unequivocal case for impeachment. Gardner and others can now finally step out from under the pressure to appease Trump’s misguided base of supporters. But to do that, they must commit to representing the voters in their district, not the delusional, fear-driven scheme of Republican Party leaders.
This is the way out for Gardner and other Republicans of becoming complicit with a duplicitous president. The nation is about to see Trump’s malevolent scandal exposed, and all voters will see which Republicans have the temerity to spurn or defend it.
The nation and history are watching what happens next.
Clockwise from top left: Cory Gardner, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton.
History does not yet appear to motivate Republican members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation. Instead, they appear more concerned about the present and how they will be perceived by Trump in 2020. Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) are the co-chairs of Trump’s re-election campaign in Colorado; even if you could figure out a simple way to explain this to Lamborn, there’s little chance that he would bother to listen to the arguments. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley)? He moonlights as the Chairman of the State Republican Party (or vice-versa) and has been clear about his loyalty to Trump.
It seems clear that Colorado Republicans aren’t going to be moved by the present, but surely they can comprehend the impact impeachment proceedings may have on their own legacies. David Greenberg, a history professor at Rutgers University, examined this subject for The Washington Post:
Still, people return to this notion for a reason: It acknowledges the potentially high stakes of any political action — how a single vote or decision can loom large in someone’s legacy when the day of reckoning finally comes. It appeals to transcendent ideals that may be obscured by the fervor of the moment; sometimes these coalesce crisply over time, making right and wrong seem obvious and incontestable in retrospect. When, for example, a dying Sen. John McCain went to the well of the Senate to give his thumbs-down on the gutting of Obamacare, he knew this was an act he’d be remembered for…
…But the Watergate saga does tell us this much: Those loyalists who abandoned Nixon early, when it mattered — who stood up for principle over party, for integrity over professional advancement, before Nixon was politically doomed — are remembered and praised for their courage. [Pols emphasis]
And what of those who chose to stand with Nixon?
None of these men has been well remembered. All of their obituaries led with the fact that they defended Nixon. That decision became the headline of their entire lives. [Pols emphasis]
Wherever the impeachment inquiry leads, Tipton, Buck, Lamborn, and Gardner have shown no indication that they will do anything but march alongside Trump.
But there is never a wrong time to do the right thing.
► The House of Representatives is voting today on impeachment hearing procedures. As The Washington Post reports:
A divided House approved a resolution Thursday formally authorizing and articulating guidelines for the next phase of its impeachment inquiry, a move that signaled Democrats are on course to bring charges against President Trump later this year.
The 232-to-196 vote, which hewed closely to party lines, was expected to fuel the partisan fighting that has accompanied every stage of the impeachment probe and much of the Trump presidency. Nearly all Democrats backed the resolution, and House Republicans, who spent weeks clamoring for such a vote, opposed it…
…The House’s resolution clears the way for nationally televised hearings as Democrats look to make their case to the American people that Trump should be impeached.
Colorado Public Radio explains how each member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation has responded to impeachment investigations thus far; you can probably guess who lines up where.
As Joshua C. Huder writes for the New York Times, today’s vote puts the House on a path that will almost certainly end in Trump’s impeachment.
► Another witness, another round of damning testimony. As Politico reports:
President Donald Trump’s top Russia aide corroborated aspects of a key U.S. diplomat’s testimony connecting the president to a quid pro quo with Ukraine, according to people familiar with the aide’s testimony to House impeachment investigators.
Tim Morrison, the Europe and Russia chief for the National Security Council, was cited more than a dozen times in William Taylor’s opening statement to investigators last week. Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, said he was told that Trump sought to withhold military aid to Ukraine and refuse a White House meeting with the country’s president until it launched investigations into Trump’s political rivals…
…Morrison was set to resign his post imminently, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. He became the second current White House official to testify to impeachment investigators, two days after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine and Russia expert on the NSC, testified he believed Trump’s overtures to Ukraine undermined U.S. national security.
► Quid Pro Cory: Say it three times fast. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) can’t abandon President Trump because he needs the campaign cash that the Big Orange Guy can provide.
UPDATE: CNN’s Dana Bash speaks frankly about President Donald Trump’s financial power over Republican Senators today, and how it could be brought to bear against vulnerable incumbents like Sen. Cory Gardner:
Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.
Donald Trump’s “chaos presidency” has given Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado innumerable chances to put daylight between himself and a President deeply unpopular in a state they will both be up for re-election in next November. Since Gardner called for Trump to pull out of the race in October of 2016, saying he “cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women,” Gardner’s swift track back into line to support Trump unquestioningly after Trump’s unexpected victory has wreaked havoc on Gardner’s credibility with Colorado voters–contributing directly to Gardner’s weakness in every poll conducted over the past year.
A recurring question in response to this ongoing political masochism is simple: why is Gardner so determined to not just support Trump, but tirelessly work to rehabilitate Trump with Colorado voters who want nothing to do with Trump?
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. [Pols emphasis]
To our knowledge, no reporter has ever asked Gardner directly to explain his evolution from denouncing Trump as “someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women” to claiming that he “likes” Trump and wants you, the same voters he told Trump was a rapist in 2016, to “like” Trump too. The difficulty reporters have experienced getting even the most rudimentary answers from Gardner on the substance of the impeachment case against Trump makes it highly unlikely that Gardner will ever come clean on this arguably even greater and more emotionally visceral contradiction.
If Gardner won’t explain these contradictions himself, voters are left to figure out what’s going on themselves. And as Politico’sAlex Isenstadtreports, there is a straightforward explanation requiring little imagination, damning though it may be:
President Donald Trump is rewarding senators who have his back on impeachment — and sending a message to those who don’t to get on board. [Pols emphasis]
…On Wednesday, the Trump reelection campaign sent a fundraising appeal to its massive email list urging donors to provide a contribution that would be divided between the president and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis. Each of the senators are supporting the anti-impeachment resolution despite being endangered in 2020.
“If we don’t post strong fundraising numbers,” the message warned, “we won’t be able to defend the President from this baseless Impeachment WITCH HUNT.”
Reaching out to Trump’s loyal fan base–more loyal to Trump than the Republican Party as a whole at this point–to fill Cory Gardner’s coffers is just another sign, along with Gardner headlining the Trump campaign’s recent fundraising “retreat” in New York and co-billed with Trump for another event next month, of the tie that binds Gardner to Trump more than perhaps anything else. With the Republican Party increasingly a cult of personality existing to prop up one individual, Gardner’s immediate political future is linked at the hip to the President’s.
Even if Trump has no realistic shot at winning Colorado, and we’re pretty sure he does not, Gardner’s already bleak prospects for re-election become a total impossibility without the support of the Republican base–and if Gardner jilts Trump now, the base jilts Gardner.
Gardner may yet have a conscience, but Trump’s money is flooding it like dopamine floods a drug addict’s brain. If there is a better explanation for a strategy that seems certain in the end to harm America’s Most Vulnerable Senator™ far more than it helps him, we’d like to hear it.
A new tracking poll shows both an increase in enthusiasm for voting among Coloradan Latinos and a distinct preference for presumed Democratic senate candidate John Hickenlooper over incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.
When Equis Research polled Colorado Latinos over the summer, it was clear Cory Gardner had a lot of work to do. As the Denver Post’s Nic Garcia reported at the time, “U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner is in big trouble with Latinos.”
However that poll from July also noted that fewer than half (48%) of Latino registered voters were “excited” to vote in 2020. According to the latest data released yesterday, that total has jumped to 55%, a significant increase in less than three months.
When asked about the U.S. Senate race, Latino Coloradans expressed a 3-1 preference for a generic Democrat over Gardner (68%-23%). The latest poll, which named Hickenlooper as Gardner’s likely opponent, returned essentially the same results (69%-23%).
The Colorado data also reflected increased support (6%) among Latinos for the Democratic party, along with a three point slide in President Trump’s favorability.
Breaking down the “excited to vote” data by partisan affiliation further exacerbates the challenge Colorado Republicans face in wooing the Latino votes. Here are the totals of “excited voters as divided into partisan categories: “Liberal 67% (+9), Moderate 51% (+12) Conservative 47% (-5).”
Senate Democrats today tried to pass a resolution opposing President Trump’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. As Jordain Carney explains for The Hill, Republicans weren’t having it:
The Senate on Wednesday rejected a Democratic effort to roll back a Trump administration rule that allows states to ignore parts of ObamaCare.
Senators voted 43-52 on the resolution, falling short of the simple majority needed to pass the chamber.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote for the resolution.
Democrats wanted to overturn a Trump administration rule that makes it easier for states to opt out of certain ObamaCare requirements and prioritize cheaper, less-inclusive plans than ones offered under ObamaCare.
Members of the party have termed the plans “junk insurance” because companies can refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) surprised no-one by voting against today’s resolution; Gardner has regularly backed efforts by the Trump administration to strangle the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Polls have consistently shown that Americans differ on their opinions about the ACA overall but generally support some of its key tenets, with protections for pre-existing conditions at the top of that list:
Gardner and Republicans are trying to convince Americans that they are not directly removing protections for pre-existing conditions by supporting efforts to rollback the ACA, but there is no question that they are making it possible for this very thing to happen. What Trump and his fellow Republicans are doing is making it easier for companies to sell short-term “junk” insurance plans that do not qualify for pre-existing protection coverages.
Here’s how Bloomberg Businessweek described this cause-and-effect relationship in a story about a Phoenix family that was handed a $250,000 bill for emergency care that they believed was covered by their health insurance:
The Diazes’ plan was nothing like the ones consumers have come to expect under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which bars insurers from capping coverage, canceling it retroactively, or turning away people with preexisting conditions. But the law includes an exemption for short-term plans that serve as a stopgap for people between jobs. The Trump administration, thwarted in its attempts to overturn the ACA, has widened that loophole by stretching the definition of “short-term” from three months to a year, with the option of renewing for as long as three years. [Pols emphasis]
Fewer than 100,000 people had such plans at the end of last year, according to state insurance regulators, but the Trump administration says that number will jump by 600,000 in 2019 as a result of the changes. Some brokers are taking advantage, selling plans so skimpy that they offer no meaningful coverage. And Health Insurance Innovations is at the center of the market. In interviews, lawsuits, and complaints to regulators, dozens of its customers say they were tricked into buying plans they didn’t realize were substandard until they were stuck with surprise bills. The company denies responsibility for any such incidents, saying it’s a technology platform that helps people find affordable policies through reputable agents.
Now, let’s go back to what Gardner said about today’s vote: “Washington Democrats tried to prevent choice and access in health care, because they think the American people aren’t smart enough to buy the health insurance that’s right for them.” It would be more accurate to say that Democrats believe that consumers should be shielded from companies trying to fool them into purchasing baloney insurance plans that don’t provide coverage for pre-existing conditions.
This is Gardner in full used-car salesman mode. If you’re dumb enough to believe what he says and to buy a car that turns out to be a lemon, well then that’s your fault. Everybody should have the opportunity to buy worthless healthcare policies.
(Got traction? Get answers – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Sen. Cory Gardner is in Washington, D.C. today, but at least two members of his staff are holding a public meeting here in Colorado.
State director Andy Merritt and Regional Director Steve Emmen are scheduled to give a legislative update over lunch from noon to 2:00 PM today at the Spring Valley Golf Course east of Castle Rock.
Spring Valley Golf Club is located in the town of Elizabeth, which is currently the only place in Colorado still embroiled in political recalls. It’s also the only recall effort in the state that managed to collect enough signatures to put the question to the ballot.
Last Thursday, officials determined that recall proponents turned in enough valid signatures to move ahead with recall votes for the Mayor and all six town trustees.
Back in April, Gardner applauded Congressman Ken Buck’s rallying cry to Colorado Republicans that they would teach Democrats to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.
The Elizabeth Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the event, which is free and anyone can RSVP. As of 10:00 AM, the luncheon is taking place as scheduled.
The invitation doesn’t list specific topics, but there is one question Gardner’s office has consistently refused to answer over the past three weeks: Is it appropriate for the president to ask a foreign government to investigate his political opponent? And while the senator still hasn’t answered that specific question, Gardner’s office did find time to release a statement decrying the House’s impeachment inquiry as a “political circus,” a term his fellow Republicans have used recently to describe Colorado recalls. 9News’ Steve Staeger noted this in a recent broadcast.
Considering that his office is holding a public meeting in the one town in Colorado still involved in such a circus, it might be a good time to ask his office to clarify his position.
This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii ponder attempts by Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck to distance the GOP from their recall failures; discuss GOP troubles with continuing to defend President Trump; break down another harsh editorial calling on Sen. Cory Gardner to resign from office; and consider where to start building a wall in Colorado. Later in the show, Ian plays “Duke or Donald” with guest contestant Fawn Bolack, co-founder of “Keep Abortion Safe.”
There are currently eight Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate in Colorado…or nine if you count both versions of Andrew Romanoff.
The current iteration of Romanoff more closely resembles the 2010 Senate challenger version (“2010 Andrew”) than the 2014 congressional candidate in CO-6 (“2014 Andrew”) but just like the rest of us, Romanoff doesn’t get to be selective about his personal and professional history.
If you’ve been following the Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate — particularly since former Gov. John Hickenlooper joined the race in August — you know that Romanoff has been positioning himself as the “anti-establishment” candidate who is proud to not have the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which has endorsed Hickenlooper. This is a predictable tactic, to some extent, because all candidates try hard to reimagine any weakness as a strength. But Romanoff took this stance a little too far during a candidate forum hosted by the Denver Democrats over the weekend. As Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post reported via Twitter:
If you really, truly believe that Romanoff would have turned down the support of the DSCC had it been offered, then you can stop reading right here; we’ll let you get back to importing gold bars from Nigeria and plotting out how to spend your winnings from the Canadian lottery. Quite simply, Romanoff’s anti-establishment rhetoric doesn’t withstand the test of history.
One of the major storylines in Colorado politics in late 2008/early 2009 involved speculation about who then-Gov. Bill Ritter might appoint to fill the remainder of Ken Salazar’s U.S. Senate term (Salazar gave up his Senate seat after President-elect Barack Obama tapped him to serve as Secretary of the Interior). Ritter infamously selected Michael Bennet as Salazar’s replacement, a decision that shocked pretty much everyone, including us (“What the Hell?!?” was our headline on January 2, 2009).
January 2, 2009
Here’s what we wrote at the time:
Ritter could have gone with a popular Mayor who enjoys tremendous name ID throughout the Front Range (Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper). He could have chosen an incumbent congressman with a big warchest who could seamlessly move into the office (Rep. Ed Perlmutter). He could have chosen a popular former Speaker of the House whose selection wouldn’t have caused a domino effect of jockeying to fill his seat (Andrew Romanoff). Ritter could have chosen a lot of people who had strong name ID and weren’t just known as “Denver people,” but he didn’t.
Romanoff had a strong argument for Salazar’s seat, and he was right to be upset about being passed over for Bennet — who was then serving as the superintendent of Denver Public Schools. Romanoff should have launched a Senate campaign of his own soon thereafter, but he inexplicably waited until August to get a campaign off the ground, giving Bennet plenty of time to consolidate Democratic support and financial contributions; Bennet would eventually defeat Romanoff by more than 8 points in the 2010 Primary.
Romanoff’s 2020 Senate campaign contains a lot of the same themes as his Primary bid 10 years earlier, which would be fine if 2014 never happened. In late 2013, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which is the Democratic House equivalent of the DSCC, publicly backed Romanoff’s bid for Congress in CO-6 against Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. The heavy hand of the DCCC helped clear the Democratic field for Romanoff and went on to spend nearly $2 million to boost Romanoff’s candidacy; the DCCC planned to spend at least $1.4 million more for Romanoff until weak polling numbers in early October convinced them to redistribute those funds to other races around the country.
Romanoff is positioning himself as the “anti-establishment” candidate in 2020, but he was the epitome of an establishment choice for Congress in 2014. It’s not at all believable for Romanoff to say that he would not have accepted the DSCC’s backing in 2020 had it been offered.
Support Romanoff for U.S. Senate if you think he is the better candidate — just don’t stand behind him because you think he’s the “anti-establishment” option.
Back in March the Denver Postrescinded their endorsement of Sen. Cory Gardner, after Gardner voted to defend President Donald Trump’s highly controversial declaration of a national emergency to obtain the needed funding for construction of a wall on the southern U.S. border despite congressional refusal to fund the project–not to mention Gardner’s own longstanding stated opposition to both building a wall and declaring a national emergency to override Congress’ power of the purse.
This weekend, the Boulder Daily Cameraone-upped the Post by calling for Gardner to resign from office:
Only a few times in history has the United States faced an internal threat as profound as the one posed by the lawless President Trump, and all Americans who want to preserve the nation’s institutions are obliged to act. In Colorado, this means they should insist that Trump enabler Sen. Cory Gardner vacate his office immediately. [Pols emphasis]
Gardner is one of Trump’s most valuable assets in Washington. Back home in his increasingly blue home state he is subject to escalating criticism of his record as he revs up his 2020 reelection bid. But Gardner’s unworthiness for public service goes beyond political disappointments. His dismal record on the environment, health care, guns and other issues does render him a poor fit for Colorado, and were his faults limited to such matters a trouncing at the polls next year would be satisfactory enough. But this is about a betrayal of public trust. Gardner’s disgraceful behavior in office makes him complicit in the corruption that’s polluting the channels of government, the dishonesty that’s destroying national institutions, the criminality that’s mocking the rule of law, and the perfidy that’s neutralizing the Constitution. Gardner swore that he would “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” but the Constitution is under attack, and far from defending the nation’s founding charter Gardner has aligned himself with its enemies. Coloradans should do what is in their legal power to shorten his term to whatever extent possible.
Strong words. There is of course no process for recalling federal lawmakers, so there’s no way to “shorten” Gardner’s term prior to the November 2020 elections where a second term can be denied him. It’s also extremely unlikely that Gardner would resign early and allow Democratic Gov. Jared Polis to appoint his replacement.
But there is one somewhat more plausible scenario this scathing editorial calls to mind–what if Cory Gardner were to simply decide not to run again? In a state that has moved steadily leftward since Gardner’s election to the U.S. Senate in 2014, and where Gardner is polling even worse than Trump with tepid support from the Republican base, Gardner is considered the most vulnerable incumbent GOP Senator up for re-election in 2020. He’s down by double digits against his most likely opponent in polls. Gardner’s recent disastrous handling of questions about Trump and the impeachment inquiry punched a giant hole in his indefatigably smooth reputation.
The most likely scenario remains that Gardner will not resign or decline to run for re-election, will fight to the bitter end, and at this point it looks like he will stand fast with Trump going into their joint rendezvous with destiny next November. This is about what the numbers and now the Daily Camera’s editorial board say Cory Gardner should do, not what he’s going to do.
A week after the spectacular failure of the last of the recall campaigns from Colorado Republicans, launched against several individual Democratic legislators and Gov. Jared Polis over the summer, the Denver Post’sAlex Burnesscircled back with Republican leaders for a post-mortem look at what went wrong–Republicans who were willing to return his calls, that is, because evidently many were not.
It’s not easy to capture to full magnitude of the failure for Colorado Republicans without resorting to language that seems hyperbolic, but objectively is not an exaggeration of any kind. After the 2018 elections resulted in an historic bloodbath for the Colorado GOP–destroying their gubernatorial candidate, wiping out the GOP’s hold on the attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer’s office ,and losing their only remaining legislative majority–Republicans in this state faced a hard choice: to learn the lessons dwindling moderates in their midst were begging them to learn and fundamentally change course, or embrace a future where all the elections look like 2018.
As we now know, Colorado Republicans chose the latter.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R).
This infamous clip of now-state GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck promising to make Democrats “learn how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L,” cheered on by the state’s highest ranking Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, has become a major embarrassment for the party leadership now that the recalls have failed. The recalls did not fail narrowly, but failed calamitously with juicy attendant details like the conservative operative class in the state glomming on to the cash flow and “gifts” of thousands of dollars to individuals after the campaign had already failed. Any way you look at what happened–from building donor confidence to mobilizing the base to credibility with the media–this summer was another unprecedented disaster for Colorado Republicans on par with their electoral defeats last November.
So we can’t claim to be surprised to see, as the Post’s Alex Burness reports today, Colorado Republicans making absurd excuses to deflect responsibility. Defeat, as they say, is an orphan:
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the Colorado GOP chair, told The Denver Post on Friday that the recall failures don’t fall on him in any way. [Pols emphasis]
“I didn’t cast any net,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in the grassroots … who went after legislators. I didn’t direct any recall effort.”
When he was elected to lead the state party on the fourth ballot in March, Buck promised to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” Now, though, he claims he did not endorse the concept of mass recalls in Colorado.
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).
Buck’s cowardly denial of any responsibility for recalls he ran for the chair of the state party promising to support is an indicator of just how thoroughly weak and disorganized Republicans are as the last days of October 2019 come to a close. Practically from the moment Democrats visited historic destruction on Republicans in last November’s elections, Republicans had threatened retaliation via recalls. House Minority Leader Patrick Nevilleopenly threatened his Democratic colleagues with recalls during this year’s legislative session. Republican operatives criss-crossed the state spreading the gospel of recalls as a way to “reweight the electorate,” and score victories that are now out of reach in general elections.
History will likely record that the attempted recall of Rep. Tom Sullivan, a freshman Democrat whose advocacy for gun safety is rooted in his son’s tragic murder in the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting, is the moment where the GOP’s recall strategy went off the rails for good. Ironically, this is the recall attempt that Colorado Republicans are most obliged to take ownership of, since it was initiated by Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown personally. Attempts to recast Brown’s action as “personal” after the Sullivan recall was clearly doing more harm than good simply have no credibility.
Cole Wist, a Republican who lost his house seat to Sullivan in 2018 — and who publicly bashed the Sullivan recall effort — said there is an important distinction to be made between staying out of recalls and actively condemning them.
“I didn’t see one elected Republican speak out against it,” he said. “The state party needs to own this failure.[Pols emphasis] They stirred the pot, and when they could see that the strategy wasn’t going to work, they didn’t speak up. They retreated and disappeared while rank-and-file members of the party floundered and were exploited by political consultants.”
When exactly high-ranking Republicans belatedly realized that the recalls were going to fail is irrelevant. The fact is that top Republicans kept up appearances of support for the recalls very late in the game, such as when Sen. Cory Gardner told recall organizers in Pueblo at the end of August that “I’ve never said I was against recalls” about sixty seconds after telling Senate President Leroy Garcia “I’m kind of sorry that this is happening.” For rank-and-file Republicans, any emotional (not to mention financial) investment made in these recalls has been a tremendously demoralizing experience.
And above all, while Democrats have been organizing like it’s an election year to oppose the recalls, the GOP spun its wheels throughout this whole critical off-year when they should have been preparing for the 2020 general election. When all is said and done this could be the most damning of the many indictments against Rep. Ken Buck’s absentee leadership of the party while still trying to serve in Congress, and with the greatest long-term impact. Here we are a year after the 2018 Democratic wave, and Colorado Republicans have totally squandered the backlash they hoped to foment as Democrats carried out the agenda they promised voters. There are many mistakes to point out, but there are no excuses. This was the strategy Republicans chose.
Cory Gardner, Ken Buck, House Minority Leader Pat Neville, the Colorado GOP as an organization.
For Colorado Republicans who really want this nightmare to end, the housecleaning starts there.
On Thursday, Graham introduced his ridiculous resolution in the Senate, criticizing House Democrats for the same impeachment proceedings that he helped conduct in 1999. As Dana Milbank writes for The Washington Post:
Twenty years ago, as a Clinton impeachment manager, Graham said a president’s failure to comply with subpoenas was impeachable because it “took the power from Congress.” Now the Trump administration is ignoring subpoenas wholesale — and Graham is attacking the lawmakers who issued them. [Pols emphasis]
In his Thursday news conference, Graham couldn’t quite bring himself to exonerate Trump: “I don’t want to comment on substance,” he said. “I’m not here to tell you that Donald Trump has done nothing wrong.” He merely raged against procedures, arguing, “The process in the House today, I think, is a danger to the future of the presidency.”
ABC News’s Terry Moran reminded him that during Watergate, lawmakers took depositions behind closed doors before there was an impeachment resolution, just as the House is doing now.
♦ Pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, all but handing the region to Russia:
Senator Cory Gardner is going down with the ship.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has plenty of reasons to bail on his support of President Trump. The list grows longer every week. Yet Gardner remains unflinchingly loyal to a President who would toss him under the bus without a second thought should it benefit him in even the smallest of ways.
How much more Trump can Gardner swallow without finally heaving? On Wednesday, CNN’s Chris Cillizzapondered this question for Republicans in general:
It’s worth remembering that fact at this moment as congressional Republicans find themselves confronted with a cavalcade of troubling news stories about President Donald Trump and his conduct in office. Because while elected GOP officials have almost totally capitulated to Trump’s hostile takeover of their party, there is always a point at which you simply cannot look even quasi-objectively at the actions of this president and conclude that standing behind him remains the right (or even defensible) thing to do…
…The vast majority of congressional Republicans continue to stand behind Trump — due in no small part to their fear that stepping out on a limb to say he needs to go (or even that the impeachment inquiry is the right thing to do) will lead to the President singling them out and ending their political careers.
Remember, however: Everyone — everyone — has a breaking point. And it’s hard to see how at least some congressional Republicans aren’t very near theirs after this week.
Of course, Gardner isn’t the only Colorado Republican to have cast his lot with Trump. Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) are co-chairs of Trump’s re-election campaign in Colorado. State Republican Party Chairman/Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has been a reliable Trumpian who supported House Republicans storming the gates of a secure hearing room in protest of impeachment investigations.
But Tipton, Lamborn, and Buck all represent fairly conservative districts in which blind support for Trump is politically more beneficial than harmful. By any statewide measure, this is not equally true for Gardner, and even conservative Colorado voices agree:
Look, @SenCoryGardner, obviously you can’t make the Trump base happy. They’re crazy. Your only shot is to appeal to independents and sane Republicans by taking an early lead in calling for Trump’s removal. https://t.co/LJa1hQI0cy
This sort of advice made a lot of sense a long time ago, but it’s too late for Gardner to change course now; he’s cast too many terrible votes and shamelessly defended Trump too often to suddenly pretend to have gained a conscience. Gardner has shown, repeatedly, that he is willing to commit political suicide in order to remain in good standing with Trump. The only way out for Gardner is to hope beyond hope that Trump is somehow vindicated in the next 12 months and can limp his way to re-election in 2020. Any Trump turnaround probably won’t be enough to get Gardner re-elected as well, but Colorado’s Senator would undoubtedly try to cash in on his Trump loyalty with some sort of cabinet-level position.
Gardner has had numerous chances to take a meaningful stand in opposition to Trump. He has let each of them pass without challenge. There’s no reason to believe this going to change now.
Senate Republicans are moving to denounce the House’s impeachment inquiry, with Sen. Lindsey Graham set to introduce a resolution on Thursday condemning the Democrat-led effort.
The South Carolina Republican, a close ally of President Donald Trump, has attacked Democrats for their handling of the impeachment process. His resolution — backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — criticizes the House for its “closed-door, illegitimate impeachment inquiry,” according to a press release…
The Graham resolution could put pressure on Republicans who have appeared open to considering the evidence in the House impeachment inquiry. But even Republicans who have declined to offer predictions on how the inquiry might end have attacked Democrats for how they’ve handled impeachment.
Sen. Cory Gardner is technically one of the Senate Republicans who has claimed to support “a serious investigation” of the allegations against President Donald Trump, while hewing to the contradictory party line of slamming House Democrats for actually carrying out such an investigation. At the same time, Gardner’s continued close association with Trump including headlining major Trump fundraising events belie Gardner’s pretense of impartiality to the point of ridiculousness. It’s therefore all but a foregone conclusion that Gardner will join with Lindsey Graham and diehard Senate Trump apologists in voting to condemn the House impeachment inquiry.
The question then becomes how many Senate Republicans refuse to pre-emptively step on their responsibility as potential jurors in an impeachment trial by condemning the entirely legal process that will put the case before them. The more Republicans who demonstrate bravery in this vote, the worse Gardner will look in the probable event he fails to do so.
And if he proves us wrong? Well, that will be newsworthy.