Colorado voters rejected the Trump agenda in 2018 — and that means things don't look good for Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.
Trump loyalist Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has spent his past two years in office faithfully voting for the Trump agenda. But in the 2018 midterms, Coloradans overwhelmingly rejected the Trump-led Republican Party, voting for Democrats up and down the ballot.
Now the GOP is scared. According to the Denver Post, Republican insiders are reporting that Gardner is their biggest worry: "U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner's re-election prospects are grim unless the party can develop a new message that appeals to both the Trump loyalists and the independent voters who dislike the president."
Gardner, a far-right, hardline conservative up for re-election in 2020, is heading into the next election cycle as one of the nation's most vulnerable incumbents, and for good reason: His views and alignment with Trump put him at odds with a rapidly changing state.
In an analysis of 2020 Senate races, Roll Call lists Gardner as one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country.
As far back as January 2018, Vox published an article showing Gardner's low approval ratings in Colorado and noting the poll numbers should worry Republicans about his 2020 prospects.
Conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin noted women, college-educated, young and suburban voters are soundly rejecting the Trump agenda. In a column calling out Gardner, among other Republicans in trouble in 2020, Rubin writes, "Republicans cling to Trump and curry favor with the White House at their own risk. If they want to win independents' and moderates' voters support, they better stop acting like Trump lap dogs."
In 2018, Colorado voters put Democrats in control of both legislative chambers, flipping the state Senate from red to blue, and elected Democrat Jared Polis as the nation's first openly gay governor.
"The barn has been completely cleaned out," David Flaherty, a Colorado Republican pollster, told the Post. "We're trying to learn what motivated them. But you're kidding yourself if you say President Trump didn't have something to do with it."
Before the midterm election, Trump's approval rating in Colorado was a mere 44 percent. But among independents, is was substantially lower, with fewer than one in three approving of Trump.
An out-of-touch Gardner votes with Trump more than 91 percent of the time. On issues like health care and tax breaks skewed toward wealthy Wall Street executives, Gardner turned his back on Colorado and enthusiastically backed the Trump agenda.
Gardner supported Trump on the unpopular Republican health care plan, which would have had devastating effects for Colorado families. Gardner voted to increase health care premiums by 20 percent and cause 16 million people to lose access to health insurance.
When that bill failed, Gardner pushed the Republicans to try once more to rip health care away from millions of families. But he didn't want to do it because he thought it was good policy — he wanted to do it to make sure wealthy funders kept funneling campaign cash to Republicans.
"As more than 40 subdued Republican senators lunched on Chick-fil-A at a closed-door session last week, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado painted a dire picture for his colleagues," reported the New York Times in September 2017. "Campaign fund-raising was drying up, he said, because of widespread disappointment among donors over the inability of the Republican Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act or do much of anything else."
"'Donors are furious,' one person knowledgeable about the private meeting quoted Mr. Gardner as saying," according to the Times.
Gardner can always be counted on to put the needs of the wealthy over what is best for Coloradans or the country. His vote for the unpopular Republican tax scam provides even more evidence.
Gardner voted to add trillions to the national deficit in order to lavish Wall Street banks and wealthy businesses with billions of dollars of tax breaks. However, Republican promises of higher wages and larger paychecks for working families never seemed to materialize.
Colorado Republicans see why their party is in trouble. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) told the Denver Post that the GOP claims to be fiscally conservative, but has had no issue adding trillions to the debt.
Evidence shows Gardner can't be trusted as a fiscal conservative, and he can't be trusted to protect the health care of Coloradans. But he can be trusted to fight tooth and nail for the Trump agenda, even if it means leaving Colorado families out in the cold.
No wonder political insiders are already describing his re-election chances as "grim."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.