This week, Sen. Cory Gardner will find himself somewhere that feels familiar: sharing a stage with someone named Trump, a place he’s tried to be at every opportunity for the last several years and will find himself again in 2020.
Sen. Gardner was one of the first senators in the country to endorse President Donald Trump for re-election.
He has voted with Trump 99 percent of the time, siding with Trump on his most disastrous policies — from voting repeatedly to gut the Affordable Care Act and threaten coverage for the nearly 800,000 Coloradans with pre-existing conditions, to standing behind Trump’s fake national emergency to build his useless wall.
Sen. Gardner championed a tax bill that awards the top one percent over 80 percent of the bill’s benefits, while blowing a $1.5 trillion hole in the deficit over the next 10 years. And as conservative state legislatures pursued their plans to challenge Roe v. Wade up to the Supreme Court, Sen. Gardner abandoned Coloradans by all but endorsing these efforts, saying it should be “up to the states,” while lending his support to more and more anti-choice judges.
Instead of checking the power of a reckless president, Sen. Gardner has been collecting checks from Trump’s wealthiest allies, like the DeVos family and the Koch brothers.
Sen. Gardner got elected in the first place by promising Coloradans he was a “different kind of Republican” who could get things done. He hasn’t kept his word. Instead, he has teamed up with Trump to create new problems on everything from immigration to health care.
Their record of making our country less safe, less stable and more fearful for our future will be on full display for Colorado voters as conservatives spend this weekend plotting the next salvo in their efforts to take health care away from Coloradans and stoke fear among our immigrant communities.
Unlike Sen. Gardner, I have spent my life running at the hardest problems and I know we can deliver solutions to them because I have done it throughout my career, both inside and outside of government, by pulling people together to deliver big, progressive results.
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We delivered on immigration in the state Senate, opening college doors to undocumented students who were previously denied in-state tuition by passing the ASSET law to change that. Coloradans want a U.S. Senate that can deliver those opportunities to immigrants nationwide and create a path to citizenship. We need an immigration system that puts kids in college, not cages, and leads our hard-working neighbors to jobs, not jail.
We delivered on education at the schools where I worked — first as a principal in a juvenile prison, and then in a struggling school that served recent immigrant families, where we helped ensure that 100 percent of seniors who graduated earned admission to college.
I have supported efforts to make sure education can be lifelong by backing everything from full-day kindergarten and access to preschool, to proposing debt-free training or education for those who serve their country through public service for two years.
Contrast that to Cory Gardner, who backed Betsy DeVos’ nomination to be Secretary of Education, which has created new problems for schools and students by eroding civil rights and weakening protections for our public schools.
We delivered on gun safety in the state Senate following the Aurora theater shooting, taking on the NRA to pass universal background checks and implement a high-capacity magazine ban. But Sen. Gardner has voted against every meaningful gun bill that crossed his desk, while accepting millions from the NRA over his political career.
We delivered on climate, ensuring that Colorado was a leader in combating the climate crisis by pushing to increase the state’s renewable energy standards. And we need a U.S. Senate that takes bold action to address this crisis, not a senator who continues to stand behind a president who ignores basic science.
We delivered on health care in the state Senate, voting to expand Medicaid in Colorado. And now, we need a U.S. senator that will make sure our neighbors with cancer or children with asthma have access to health care, not Sen. Gardner, who has voted again and again to rip those protections away.
These are the stakes in this election and we are ready to unseat Sen. Gardner for all those reasons. I’m running to take on our hardest problems like health care and the climate crisis and immigration, and I will actually represent our state in the process, unlike Sen. Gardner.
Sen. Gardner has stood with President Trump, and will stand with a Trump on stage this weekend. Make no mistake, voters will have the chance to judge them together in November 2020 as well.
Mike Johnston is a former teacher, principal and state senator who is now a candidate for U.S. Senate. Johnston was raised in Eagle County and lives in northeast Denver with his wife, Courtney, a deputy district attorney, and their three children.