ICYMI: Gardner’s Brutal Weekend — Called Out for Caving, Failing to Deliver for Colorado
Politico: Cory Gardner’s Marijuana Problem
Denver, CO – Senator Cory Gardner earned a slate of brutal coverage over the long weekend — including scathing reviews for caving to Mitch McConnell in less than 24 hours, his blind allegiance to President Trump, and his failure to deliver for Colorado’s cannabis industry despite talking a big game.
In case you missed it, here’s Gardner’s abysmal weekend in the press:
Colorado Sun’s Mike Littwin: “The Gardner rebellion, as I like to call it, lasted less than a day…Gardner stuck his neck out, and when McConnell raised the figurative ax, it was game over.”
The Atlantic: “In the future museum of Never Trumpers turned Ever Trumpers, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado will have pride of place… In a sharp about-face, Gardner has backed Trump at every turn since endorsing the president for reelection last year.”
Politico: “But so far, [Gardner] hasn’t delivered any legislative wins for the state’s $1.7 billion, rapidly growing cannabis industry, where marijuana was legalized in 2012.”
Denver Post: “…Gardner has said in media interviews that he opposes efforts by congressional Democrats to help states adopt all-mail voting.”
Denver Post: Gardner has “ramped up criticisms of China in the past month, following the playbook of at least one Republican campaign committee… ‘Don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban — attack China.’”
Read full recaps of the coverage below:
- It is fair to assume that Cory Gardner — whose name rarely appears without the notation that his Senate seat is in serious jeopardy this November — is growing increasingly worried. And now, as the kids say, we have the receipts.
- The Gardner rebellion, as I like to call it, lasted less than a day.
- Gardner — hardly the rebellious type — is a good soldier who beams at a Donald Trump rally in Colorado Springs as Trump was saying Cory has backed him 100 percent.
- So when Gardner challenged McConnell, with whom he’s closer than you should be with anyone in these socially distancing times, I figured he must have had McConnell’s wink-wink approval and that Gardner would walk away with some kind of symbolic win. It wasn’t likely he could get much more than that.
- Turns out, I was wrong about the wink-wink. It seems there was no agreement. Gardner stuck his neck out, and when McConnell raised the figurative ax, it was game over. When Gardner agreed to let the recess go unchallenged, he got what Sen. John Thune, the GOP whip, called “some things down the road,” which is Susan Collins’ favorite, compromise wording.
- And now we are left to wonder what the reaction would have been if Gardner had actually taken the floor and had rallied a few Republicans with him. . . But it would definitely not have impressed Mitch McConnell or Donald Trump, and so, of course, it never happened. And Gardner just went home, too.
- In the future museum of Never Trumpers turned Ever Trumpers, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado will have pride of place. In 2016, Gardner called Donald Trump a “buffoon,” left the Republican National Convention after one day rather than watching him formally receive the party’s nomination, called for him to drop out of the race after the release of the Access Hollywood tape, and said he would write in Mike Pence’s name on his presidential ballot.
- In a sharp about-face, Gardner has backed Trump at every turn since endorsing the president for reelection last year.
- “He’s been with us 100 percent,” Trump said of Gardner at a February rally in Colorado Springs, at which Gardner lavished praise on the president.
- But that [ Gardner favorability rating among Republicans] increase is not nearly enough to compensate for Gardner’s abysmal favorability rating among undeclared voters, now the largest slice of the Colorado electorate. Among those voters, Gardner scored just a 29 percent favorable rating, compared with 62 percent unfavorable.
- So sticking with Trump may be the best available strategy for Gardner, even if it’s not sufficient to win in a general election in a state where Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by just less than five percentage points, and where Democrats won every statewide office in 2018. (Gardner’s office did not return requests for comment for this article.)
- GOP incumbents face a pragmatic choice, Ornstein told me: lose their base or risk losing swing voters. “They have all decided to double down on the base, and in Colorado that is an especially problematic choice, given the sizable number of suburban, college-educated voters repelled by Trump.”
- “If [Gardner] were going to pivot away from the president, he had to do it long ago.”
- But so far, the GOP’s most ardent promoter of cannabis in Congress hasn’t delivered any legislative wins for the state’s $1.7 billion, rapidly growing cannabis industry, where marijuana was legalized in 2012.
- The two major cannabis bills Gardner sponsors — one to increase access to banking and capital for the cannabis industry and one to codify federal protections for states that choose to legalize marijuana — have not advanced in the Senate at all, despite the banking bill passing the House with a bipartisan majority last fall. Gardner does not support any bill that would legalize cannabis nationwide.
- “At some point, I have to go to Cory Gardner and say, ‘Why should the industry continue to support you?’” said Marijuana Policy Project’s Don Murphy, a former Republican lawmaker in Maryland. “I know you’re trying, but you’re not getting anything.”
- Gardner’s campaign declined to make him available for an interview for this story…
- “At the end of the day,” said Andrew Short, a Democratic strategist in Colorado, “the industry needs to see results.”
- Gardner’s cannabis moment may have already passed, however.
- If McConnell thinks Gardner can’t be saved, advocates and staffers say, he may be less inclined to pass Gardner’s legislation.
- “If Mitch McConnell thought that he was super in play and could save Cory Gardner, things might be a little different. But I think that it’s just, you have someone who’s so underwater.”
- Colorado’s experience shows that vote by mail can be at least as secure as in-person voting while increasing turnout.
- Still, Republicans are fighting the expansion of all-mail elections across the country, while Democrats are in favor of it. The Republican National Committee and Trump’s re-election campaign have budgeted $20 million to fight Democrats’ changes to voting rules in battleground states.
- Nationwide, the majority of voters across the political spectrum are in favor of remote voting. An April poll from Reuters/Ipsos found that 79% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans supported giving all voters mail-in ballots in the 2020 general election.
- Despite that success, Gardner has said in media interviews that he opposes efforts by congressional Democrats to help states adopt all-mail voting because states should decide how to run their own elections.
- Colorado Republicans in Congress have ramped up criticisms of China in the past month, following the playbook of at least one Republican campaign committee.
- In April, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which works to elect and re-elect Republicans to the Senate, sent candidates a memo advising them to aggressively criticize China and suggest Democrats are soft on it.
- “Don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban — attack China,” states the memo, as reported by Politico.
- Sen. Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican up for re-election this year, is a frequent critic of China.