Noble: Time to prune the Gardner
Election Day 2020 is still approximately a year and a half away. But in the marathon sport of American political campaigns, the race is already well underway. Soon the “Survivor”-sized field of Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination will experience its initial winnowing prior to the June debates.
Overshadowed by the presidential primary blood sport are the crucial races for the United States Senate, especially in Colorado.
Cory Gardner narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Mark Udall in 2014 by 2 percentage points. Since then, the political winds in Colorado have shifted, and not in the Republican’s favor. According to the website 270 To Win, the Colorado senate race is a toss-up.
But is it really?
It seems highly unlikely that the GOP will be able to hold on to the Colorado Senate seat after the Democratic contender for governor, Jared Polis, bested his Republican opponent by a double-digit margin.
Seemingly oblivious to Colorado’s new political climate, Gardner has done little to appeal to centrist voters, casting votes with Trump 90 percent of the time. After refusing to support Trump in 2016, Gardner eagerly endorsed Trump’s 2020 bid. This may have been an effort to stave off a primary challenger. Not supporting Trump in 2016 seemed principled, but supporting him in 2020 is Machiavellian.
Furthermore, according to Morning Consult’s first quarter 2019 Senator approval ratings, Gardner’s are dismal for re-election prospects. His approval and disapproval numbers are locked in a dead heat — at 35 percent each. However, almost as many respondents said they have never heard of him. Well, that’s awkward after four years in office.
Even more awkward, The Denver Post editorial board, in a stunning reversal, called its 2014 endorsement of Gardner a “mistake.”
While not as crowded as the Democratic presidential primary field, more than a few Democratic candidates have announced their candidacy to take on Gardner and claim his Senate seat for their own.
In 2018 polling unaffiliated Coloradans (about a third of the electorate) prioritized energy and the environment, health care, and education in their vote for governor. This provides a strong indication of what voters will also prioritize in Senate candidates.
Instead of a Senator that votes with Trump, how about a Senator who votes with Colorado? Mike Johnston’s efforts in the Colorado State Assembly included bipartisan bills to spur economic development in rural communities and invest and increase funds to support education.
Johnston’s efforts also included measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions and move Colorado to more sustainable power. Earlier this year Johnston released his own New Green Deal, which includes moving our country to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.
On the issue of a woman’s right to control her own body and make her own medical decisions, the choice could not be starker. Johnston is pro-choice and has a 100 percent approval rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America. Gardner consistently voted against funding family planning services and specifically against funding Planned Parenthood. Furthermore, Gardner supported a personhood amendment that would have banned many forms of contraception and all abortions. Come to think about it, Gardner is sounding more and more like an Alabama politician.
Colorado is a beacon of humane, compassionate governance. Our Democratic-controlled state assembly passed laws that will lower health care costs, provide full-day kindergarten to all Colorado children, prohibit gay-conversion “therapy” and provide a mechanism to temporarily remove guns from people who might hurt themselves or others.
In 2020 we can take good governance national. We can start by removing a Trump enabler such as Gardner and replacing him with Johnston. Johnston has a voting record that better aligns with Colorado priorities. Moreover, our new president will need a Congress ready to work on the real challenges that confront our country such as healthcare, inequality, and climate change. In 2020 let the healing begin, and let’s make Mike Johnston a part of that process.
Claire Noble can be found online at clairenoble.org and “Claire Noble Writer” on Facebook.