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Carman: As impeachment trial looms, vulnerable Gardner is on increasingly thin ice

The debate continues in some quarters over whether Fraser, Colo., or International Falls, Minn., deserves to legitimately lay claim to the name “Icebox of the Nation.”

Sure, International Falls usually records a few lower temperatures in the winter, but year-round averages in Fraser are lower. 

So there. 

Diane Carman

But never mind that hoary dispute, the wacky folks in Fraser are resurrecting an old event to prove that at least the hardy Coloradans know how to have fun. 

After a 10-year hiatus, the beloved Refrigerator Drop is back. 

OK, I know this is totally goofy, but I love it. 

The Fraser River Valley Lions Club is sponsoring the drop, which involves an old refrigerator, which has been stripped of its compressor and refrigerants, being placed on the ice at the Lions Pond with cameras, a timing device and a rope connected to a clock to record exactly when the ice melts and the refrigerator crashes into the water. (The fire department will retrieve the refrigerator once it falls.)

For $5 a pop, contestants can guess the precise time that the refrigerator gets dunked. The winner will receive 50% of the proceeds with the rest benefiting the Mountain Family Center.

This is such a great concept, I think we need to expand it. Since it’s an election year, I have just the idea.

The Cory Gardner drop.

There are dozens of great causes that might benefit from proceeds from such a contest: Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, humanitarian aid to refugees caged at the border, funding to clean up the public lands and waterways damaged by the senator’s support for corporate polluters.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

His voting record of 89% alignment with Trump has produced a veritable plethora of victims and worthy causes. 

Meanwhile, his poll numbers and voter registration figures in the state suggest his campaign faces a real risk of plunging to new depths if he continues to exhibit his reckless fealty to the impeached president.

A poll released in October found Gardner’s unfavorables at 45% while only 34% of voters rated him favorably. In a contest with former Gov. John Hickenlooper, the poll found Gardner would lose in a landslide.

Voter registration numbers tell the other part of the story of his uphill battle. 

Current figures show 30% of voters are registered Democrats, 28% are Republicans and 40% are unaffiliated (who in Colorado have been overwhelmingly breaking Democratic in recent years).

The poll found only 31% of unaffiliated voters rated Gardner favorably and, if support for impeachment is any measure of sentiment in this race, 61% of unaffiliated voters last fall said they were all for it.

READ: Colorado hits a new milestone with unaffiliated voters and busts the myth about its even partisan split

Gardner hasn’t revealed how he will vote on the Senate impeachment trial.

So, here we are in the dead of winter wondering to what lengths the clever Republican will go to keep his job. Will he remain loyal to all things Trump and gamble on a tsunami of money from the president’s supporters to rescue his campaign? 

Or will he triangulate?

Think about it. He could join Republican colleagues Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney in signaling that they may vote to hear from witnesses, such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton, in a Senate trial on the articles of impeachment. 

It’s just the teeniest breach, after all, to say you’re openminded and willing to hear from witnesses and then obediently fall in line behind the Dark Knight, Mitch McConnell, and the rest of Trump’s foot soldiers by voting to acquit. 

The wily Republican loyalist could spin that either way, depending on the audience. 

It’s desperate, but it’s also vintage Gardner.

Conceivably (though absurdly unlikely) he could choose patriotism, returning to his principled stand from 2016 when he announced that he would write in Mike Pence’s name on his ballot because he could never vote for the likes of Donald Trump. 

Back then Trump was merely known as a creep and a pervert. Now the guy’s the third president in history to be impeached.

Alas, then Gardner would have to reverse his enthusiastic early endorsement of Trump for reelection a year ago. That might upset the Republican donors, though.

As I said, not likely.

But there’s heavy pressure on Gardner to deliver in his reelection race, so it’s a safe bet he’ll find some way to put daylight between himself and the deeply unpopular president.

Vote for censure maybe? Blame it all on Rudy Giuliani?

Call in sick? 

Just like with the Refrigerator Drop, we can see cracks forming in the foundation of Gardner’s obsequious position on Trump. It’s a matter of time.

As winter turns to spring, one of the country’s most vulnerable Republicans is sure to find a way to sound like he’s really, really not a toady – despite his telltale voting record.

My money’s on 3:16 p.m. April 6 for the refrigerator to sink into the Lions Pond in Fraser. 

The Gardner drop? I’m betting it will happen even sooner.

Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant.

Rising Sun