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Opinion Columns

Opinion: This time, Cory Gardner can’t run from his record

Donald Trump made his first visit to Colorado as president last week, and Sen. Cory Gardner was silent — yet again failing to stand up to his party.

Gardner was one of the first senators to endorse Trump’s reelection despite his deep unpopularity here in Colorado. And Trump quickly reciprocated — no surprise there, since Gardner votes with Trump over 90 percent of the time.

Morgan Carroll

But the two share more than a destructive political agenda and mutual admiration. Like Trump, Gardner has given into the big money special interests and Washington lobbyists who work overtime to get their agenda passed instead of what’s best for Colorado.

Our work going into 2020 is to make sure every voter knows how Gardner has failed to be an independent voice for our state.

Gardner promised one thing as a candidate and has done quite another in D.C. After an eleventh-hour entry into the 2014 Senate race, Gardner slipped into office with a slick marketing shtick backed up by millions of dollars in outside spending. He pretended to be something he’s not.

Now after his nearly a decade in Washington, Colorado voters will look beyond his smooth rhetoric to find a record that undermines our environment, threatens our health coverage and jeopardizes our very basic freedoms and way of life.

Posing with wind turbines for a campaign ad won’t erase a career of voting to dismantle protections for clean air and water.

Gardner has signed off on Trump’s disastrous environmental agenda — even voting to gut limits on methane emissions like those that Colorado has implemented successfully for years. He put an oil lobbyist in charge of managing our federal public lands and helped open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling while handing out a massive tax break to big corporations.

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Gardner has dropped the ball on our most urgent environmental issues. At a time when scientists are demanding bold action to address the climate crisis, Gardner begrudges partisanship of his own making and refuses to propose a path forward.

Every U.S. Senator from Colorado for the past half-century — Republican and Democrat — has sponsored wilderness legislation to protect our public lands. Everyone besides Gardner, who has so far refused to support the collaborative CORE Act.

He’s been on the wrong side of health care for Coloradans. Despite his empty assurances that no one should lose their health insurance, Gardner backed bills that would undermine the Medicaid expansion covering nearly 400,000 Coloradans and gut coverage protections for over 750,000 Coloradans with preexisting conditions. He backed up Trump as he pushed an agenda that would raise costs on families.

Those health care bills failed — no thanks to Gardner, who voted for every single one.

But now our access to health care is facing a new legal challenge, and Gardner won’t take action to stop a Trump-supported lawsuit to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act. That includes parents’ ability to keep children on their insurance until age 26 and limits for out-of-pocket costs.

Gardner’s health care deception extends to the uncompromising anti-choice laws his party is enacting across the country. Coloradans remember when Gardner tried to convince us that he wasn’t a threat to our reproductive freedom.

But now that Roe v. Wade is at risk, we won’t forget Gardner’s votes to pack the courts with Trump’s rigid judicial nominees who’ve enabled the latest effort to make abortion illegal.

Gardner is far from the “new kind of Republican” he promised us. Instead of standing up to his party, he’s only concerned with pleasing a dangerous and divisive president.

The Denver Post editorial board even rescinded their support after Gardner sanctioned Trump’s constitutionally dubious border wall emergency, writing that Gardner “has become precisely what we said in our endorsement he would not be: ‘a political time-server interested only in professional security.’”

One thing we can count on going into 2020: Cory Gardner will say whatever it takes to help his career. He’ll try to run away from his toxic record — but Colorado deserves a real champion for our state.

Morgan Carroll is chair of the Colorado Democratic Party

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