Political pundits, generally reading talking points from the GOP, have decided that the contest for the U.S. Senate in Colorado is now up for grabs. Congressman Cory Gardner has entered the Republican primary to challenge Democratic Senator Mark Udall. Ken Buck, who lost a race against Senator Bennett in 2010, dropped out and is running for Gardner’s seat in a back room switch-a-roo.
It may be too soon for Republicans to measure the drapes in Senator Udall’s office. The presence of Gardner on the ticket might motivate Colorado’s Latino population and women voters to show up at the polls. The reason is Gardner is now on record being opposed to immigration reform, even the watered down version of principles the House Republicans have adopted. He has an anti-women voting record as well.
The Republican Party has pulled out all the stops to take control of the Senate to insure that President Obama accomplishes nothing in the last two years of his term. If they hold the House, which they are likely too due to gerrymandering, and if they get control of the Senate, they can block all the president’s nominees to every position including the court.
National Republicans were afraid that the GOP Senate field in Colorado was too weak and extreme to defeat Mark Udall. They convinced themselves that Congressman Gardner can beat Senator Udall. So, they orchestrated a candidate swap, putting Gardner on the ballot for the Senate, and Buck on the ballot for Gardner’s seat. In Gardner’s gerrymandered district, even a neo-Nazi felon on death row could be elected if he ran as a Republican.
Ken Buck opposes immigration reform, but Gardner is in Congress and in a position to do something about it. He has joined other anti-immigrant Republicans like Rep. Steve King of Iowa, however, and taken a position against even the modest GOP immigration reform principles that Speaker Boehner released in January. Opposition from right-wing Republicans like Gardner is the reason the House will not take up immigration reform this year.
Gardner’s entry into the race could provide a spark to get Latino voters to the poll in this off year election given his blockage of immigration reform.
In addition, Cory Gardner regularly votes with the extreme GOP war-on-women block in Congress. He voted against the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, casting a symbolic vote for a failed watered-down Republican version instead. When that charade failed, he voted no on the Act itself.
Gardner voted to stop all funding for Planned Parenthood. He voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act. He has supported all restrictions on contraception. He has a perfect record voting against every jobs bill President Obama has put forth, and voted to cut every social program.
Cory Gardner is a better politician than Ken Buck in that he does not say stupid things like Buck did in the 2010 race when he said voters should elect him because he does not wear high heals.
Just because he uses less offensive rhetoric does not change his extreme voting record. His positions on issues are as extreme as Ken Buck, and he has a voting record to prove it.
Udall’s re-election was never a given for many reasons. Colorado is a red state that has gone blue twice in presidential elections. In 2012, voters gave Democrats control of the legislature, but that was a presidential year where turnout is larger. In off year elections, the turnout is whiter, older, and more Republican. The only hope Democrats have is that the turnout will resemble a presidential year not an off-year.
Gardner could help Democrats turn out Latinos and single, young women. Perhaps, the reports of Udall’s demise are premature. When Buck wins Gardner’s seat, he will likely join the likes of Steve King and Louie Gohmert and embarrass the national Republican Party regularly, thus helping Democrats in 2016.