Politico: Gardner In “Tight Spot”– Side With Trump & Anti-Environmental Pick For BLM or Colorado’s Public Lands
“If you want to be a conservation champion, you’ve got to be bold and courageous and can’t just do one token bill and call yourself a conservationist”
Denver, CO – A new Politico deep-dive highlights the “tight spot” Senator Cory Gardner is in as he remains silent on President Trump’s anti-conservation pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), William Perry Pendley.
For nearly a year, Gardner has repeatedly refused to take a stance on Pendley, who has proposed selling off public lands, opposed public lands and wildlife protections, and has a long history of xenophobia and climate science denial. Gardner has touted the BLM’s move to Grand Junction on the campaign trail, but even The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has come out against Trump’s pick to head the agency.
Read highlights below or full article HERE.
By Kelsey Tamborrino and Anthony Adragna | July 17, 2020
- President Donald Trump has put a trio of western Republicans facing tough reelections in a tight spot with his controversial nominee for the Bureau of Land Management — potentially dimming Republicans’ chances of keeping control of the Senate.
- By nominating William Perry Pendley to be director of the agency, Trump has forced three vulnerable GOP incumbents — Sens. Steve Daines of Montana, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona — to either defy the White House and oppose Pendley, or support him and risk throwing away any political benefit they got from passing the Great American Outdoors Act, H.R. 1957 (116), by installing someone to oversee the nation’s public lands who spent decades advocating to sell them off.
- Democrats, who are unified in their opposition to Pendley’s nomination, are eagerly pointing out Republicans’ predicament.
- “Everything they gain from being part of the Great American Outdoors Act, all of that goodwill will go out the window if they support this nominee,” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told POLITICO.
- “In any western state that has substantial public land, this is a resonant issue that can make a difference,” [Heinrich] said, adding, “I think it would be very wise for any senator — from the West in particular — to really think hard about whether they can support this nominee.”
- Pendley, who became deputy director for policy and programs at BLM last year under a secretarial order, has been among the most controversial appointees at Interior since he has in the past called for selling off federal lands, referred to undocumented immigrants as cancer and dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement as based on “a lie.” Pendley also leads the department as it completes its controversial reorganization that moved its headquarters to Grand Junction, Colo., a push led by Gardner.
- Gardner, Daines and McSally all sit on the Energy Committee, which will consider Pendley’s nomination. Their votes will be decisive on the panel, which has 11 Republicans and nine Democrats. Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has not scheduled a hearing to date but promised a “thorough but fair process” for Pendley.
- Recent polls have shown Gardner trailing former Gov. John Hickenlooper and McSally lagging behind Democratic candidate and former astronaut Mark Kelly. The contest between Daines and Gov. Steve Bullock appears neck-and-neck with recent polls finding the race within a couple of percentage points.
- Gardner told a Colorado radio station he would have “some very tough questions” for Pendley at his confirmation hearing, but has remained noncommittal on whether he would support the nomination.
- “Cory Gardner will champion the [Great American Outdoors Act] that he, along with many other people, helped pass and he won’t say a word against someone like William Perry Pendley, who by almost every indication doesn’t really believe in public lands,” Hickenlooper told POLITICO.
- Pendley’s selection means Gardner must either vote against the person who led BLM’s relocation to Colorado — another frequently cited accomplishment in his reelection pitch — or threaten to undo whatever support he earned through passage of the conservation package.
- Earlier this week, the editorial board of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel — the newspaper in the Colorado city that is home to BLM’s new headquarters and which previously indicated it would support Pendley as BLM head — changed course and opposed his nomination, citing his views on the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Pendley “is the last person who should be criticizing other movements given the incredible pass he’s received thus far over what many consider disqualifying positions on public lands policy,” the board wrote.
- But making the nomination so close to the election struck some observers as a strategic mistake, though they welcome the scrutiny it will place on the nominee.
- “If you want to be a conservation champion, you’ve got to be bold and courageous and can’t just do one token bill and call yourself a conservationist,” Murphy said. “It doesn’t work that way.”