The gentleman pictured above is Corey Gardner (R, CO-4). He is my congressman and will likely be running to unseat Senator Mark Udall (D, CO). At their nominating convention in Boulder, Colorado Republicans gave Gardner 73% of their support which was well past the 30% needed to qualify for the primary ballot. Colorado's primaries are the last Tuesday in June.
Gardner is learning that running for state office is a totally different animal. Representative Gardner could have remained in Colorado's 4th Congressional District and very likely been re-elected for several terms given it is very favorable for a Republican candidate. For those not familiar with the district, it covers the eastern part of the state whose politics are more in line with Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas and ends in the southern and eastern suburbs of the Denver metro area encompassing a majority of Douglas, Arapahoe, and Adams Counties. The district went for Romney 59-39 in 2012 and re-elected Gardner by almost the same result of 59-37.
Cook Voter Partisan Index (VPI) rates it Republican plus 12 (R+12) meaning that a generic Republican candidate has a 12 point advantage over a generic Democratic candidate.
It is understandable why Gardner decided to forego an easy re-election and try his hand at cracking the Senate in 2014. Combined with it being an off-presidential election and Gardner having a recognizable name in Colorado politics, it is understandable why he felt the need to jump into the race against the incumbent Mark Udall.
Then there is also this.
At the Martin Luther King Day Marade, I saw a few people holding signs stating "Ken Buck For Congress" due to Senator Mark Udall (D, CO) was speaking and participating in that event.
Yes... THAT Ken Buck.
As you recall from 2010, Buck tried to unseat Senator Michael Bennett (D, CO) by riding the Tea Party wave that gripped both the Republican Party and our national politics that cycle. Buck lost because of... well... a lot of things. Buck during the campaign called for the privatization of the Veterans Administration, but later retracted that comment in the way that Republicans do. He supported keeping "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in place and equated homosexuality with alcoholism during an October 2010 appearance on Meet The Press. Dr. Sarah Burgamy, a Denver area psychologist, along with One Colorado supporters rebuked those comments with things called facts.
But the one that likely sunk his campaign was this video from an outdoor question and answer session in August 2010.
In addition to the US Senate election on the Colorado ballot in 2010, the state featured a ballot initiative that would define a person as one at the point of their biological development. Amendment 62 was rejected 71-29. Senator Michael Bennett won his election bid but only with a plurality, 48-46.
In 2008, a personhood amendment appeared on the ballot in Colorado as well. When personhood appeared on the ballot in 2008, referred to then as Amendment 48, would define a person as one from the moment of fertilization between a sperm and an egg. It too was rejected convincingly, 73-27. Tying into the elected office results, the top federal office for Colorado in 2008 was the presidential election. Along with Denver being the site of the Democratic National Convention and Colorado being touted as a swing state in that cycle, Obama easily carried the state by nearly 9 points over Senator John McCain. In that same election Mark Udall defeated Bob Schaffer 53-42.
It would not shock me if such a proposal does appear in 2014. Mother Jones reported in July 2013 that the Colorado Personhood Coalition was leading a push to put this on the upcoming ballot.
Polling in a Udall vs. Buck matchup showed that the incumbent was most likely going to win. In part it was because of Buck's extreme positions do not sit well with Colorado voters.
In order to make the race to their liking, Colorado Republicans decided to bump Gardner into the senate race and let Buck run for Congress in CO-4.
Udall vs. Gardner is a more favorable matchup for Republicans because it does not come with the baggage that Buck brings with him and it also expands the map for Republicans in their efforts to claim the US Senate. Along with North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, Montana, and Alaska, Colorado was immediately included in Senate races to watch in 2014. As observed in How Barack Obama Won, the book states that Colorado's Republican Party is a mess along with demographics working against the party. Colorado might be a swing state in elections but it is trending for the Democrats.
Gardner may close the gap in key areas of the state, but like Buck he has his own baggage.
For starters, I mentioned the personhood ballot initiatives. Gardner, while representing his district, was in favor of defining a person as such. Now that he is running statewide, he has reversed that position.
If you recall in 2013, 6 counties in Colorado placed on the ballot an initiative calling for the formation of a new state tentatively named Northern Colorado. It was in response to the Colorado legislature being in Democratic control and implementing their policies. One of those policies was new background checks for firearms which resulted in the highly publicized recall election of two State Senators. Voters in that portion of the state felt that their specific needs were not being addressed so they felt that they needed to form a new state.
For starters, let's call it what it really is:
The Colorado legislature would have to approve of it first which Governor John Hickenlooper stated that he won't. Then the Congress would have to approve of it which... well... have you seen Congress lately? Unless it involves naming a post office or a federal building, it ain't going anywhere.
And then there is this guy:
I believe he said something along these lines in 2004:
It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: "E pluribus unum," out of many, one.
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.
Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America.
There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.
We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states.
And then something along those lines in his 2012 victory speech.
I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.
Where was Rep. Corey Gardner on this very topic?
Then there were the events of October 2013.
The nearly 2-1/2 weeks of the government shutdown when once again Republicans decided to hold another one of their ObamaCare repeal votes against funding the federal government. President Obama called their bluff and the Republicans voted to shutdown the government. Representatives Gardner, Coffman, Tipton, and Lamborn can try to spin it that Obama and the Democrats who shutdown the government. The people are not buying it.
Our economy lost $24 billion due to the government shutdown. Colorado has several national parks in this state such as Rocky Mountain National Park. Workers at the Denver mint along with civilian employees at Buckley AFB in Aurora & Cheyenne Mountain were furloughed. The Air Force Academy along with the other service academies faced their academic and training schedules being interrupted if the shutdown had gone on any further. A prolonged shutdown would have impacted Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients.
Instead of standing with their constituents in Colorado and the American people, they chose to side with Senator Ted Cruz (R,
If Corey Gardner is the savior of the Colorado Republican Party, then they are in a lot more trouble than what Chuck Todd described in 2009.
Gardner is taking on a totally different animal in running statewide. This move might not only end his career, but also turn the Colorado Republican Party into more of a laughing stock than it already is.