Our View: John Hickenlooper for US Senate

In a recent interview with the Vail Daily’s editorial board, John Hickenlooper said something that should resonate with anyone who’s tired of partisan gridlock in Washington.

“It sounds crazy, but I want to go back and be part of the group of people that actually addresses the dysfunction and the lack of a willingness to listen,” he said. “We’ve got to take the time to listen to the other side and then begin framing discussions so that you can get to an alignment of self-interest and actually begin to solve some of these problems like universal health care, like climate change. There’s been no progress in four years on any of these issues, except in the wrong direction.”

That willingness to listen to find solutions to the big problems facing our state and our country is exactly the reason we’re endorsing Hickenlooper for the United States Senate. After eight years as the mayor of Denver and eight more as our state’s governor, Coloradans know who Hickenlooper is and what he’s all about. He’s still the same quirky guy who started a successful small business in a forgotten part of downtown Denver and who got into politics as an outsider because he truly believed he could bring people together to make their lives better.

He’s the mayor who helped revitalize our capital city and the governor who oversaw an economy emerging from the Great Recession that became the envy of other states around the country. During his eight years in office, the unemployment rate fell from 8.8% to 3.2% and Colorado was ranked as the nation’s No. 1 economy for three straight years, starting in 2017.    

In the midst of a global pandemic, with time running out to prevent the worst effects of global climate change, Hickenlooper is exactly the kind of steady leader that Coloradans need in the Senate to cut through the partisan noise.

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He’ll fight to deliver relief for those who are out of work and are struggling to pay the bills and who can’t afford the cost of health care in the midst of a pandemic.

Put simply, Hickenlooper will be the senator that Cory Gardner promised to be — the guy who’ll break from his party and be an independent voice when it’s the right thing to do for his constituents.

That track record has put Hickenlooper at odds with the far-left wing of his own party, at times, but it’s also led to bipartisan compromise on issues such as fracking regulations and lowering health care costs.

While Gardner continually touts that he’s one of the most bipartisan senators in Washington, his record shows he’s voted with President Trump 89% of the time, according to Nate Silver’s nonpartisan FiveThirtyEight website

And when Gardner says he authored legislation “to guarantee coverage to people with pre-existing conditions — no matter what happens to Obamacare,” the record shows he’s repeatedly voted to get rid of those protections while supporting President Trump’s lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. It has also been exposed that his 117-word “Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act” was a sham of a bill simply meant to give him political cover that falls far short of what’s necessary to back up his guarantee, according to a raft of independent fact-checkers.

“That’s the worst lie,” Hickenlooper said. “In Colorado, we’ve got 2.4 million people with pre-existing medical conditions and that number is only going to grow once the COVID-19 numbers come in. That’s going to be a pre-existing condition. Almost certainly. And suddenly these folks aren’t going to have the protections they used to have. And there’s no legitimate replacement anywhere near. It hasn’t been negotiated and thought through in any sense. It’s all just about politics.”

It’s hard to argue that point. And Gardner’s campaign didn’t even try to refute it, turning down repeated requests for an interview with the Vail Daily. That’s not shocking, considering Gardner has earned a reputation for not bothering to hold town halls to hear from his constituents, instead opting for private events with hand-picked guests.

It’s the kind of political gamesmanship that’s made average citizens distrust Washington politicians, and it’s exactly what we don’t need right here, right now, at this critical moment for our nation.

Gardner wants you to believe what’s said about Hickenlooper all those attack ads that are being funded by dark-money groups. His strategy depends on painting Hickenlooper as a corrupt, career politician who took Coloradans for a ride. But the truth is that Hickenlooper has owned his ethics infractions for reporting errors that included his failure to disclose things such as free meals and travel — and he paid his $2,750 fine.

Gardner also wants you believe that he’s a champion of public lands, but the truth is that he  hasn’t gotten behind the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act that passed the House last fall, despite its broad bipartisan support.

The act would preserve roughly 100,000 acres of wilderness, recreation and conservation areas in the White River National Forest along the Continental Divide and would also designate the land around Camp Hale near Leadville as a first National Historic Landscape.

Camp Hale, of course, is sacred ground to Eagle County residents, given that some of the 10th Mountain Division troops who trained there came back from World War II to found America’s great ski resorts, including Vail.

The CORE Act has the support of every county it directly impacts. But instead of living up to his bipartisan pledge, Gardner and his campaign instead commissioned a phony ad, titled “Both Parties,” that gives the impression that his environmental work has the support of both Republicans and Democrats.

In fact, both speakers in the ad are Republicans, and the woman who is cited as an environmental advocate founded a group six months ago that has no history of environmental work. 

If you’re tired of the fake ads, the fake bills, the empty promises and zero-sum politics, then the choice is clear: Vote for John Hickenlooper.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd and Advertising Director Holli Snyder.

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