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U.S. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado speaking at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry's 2018 Update from Capitol Hill at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

Like most Americans, Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has been struggling with technology as he learns how to work from home. In northeast Colorado, where he lives in the town of Yuma, the joke is there are more bars to drink at than you can get on your cell phone.

“Our 16-year-old daughter has been elevated to our chief technology officer in the Gardner household,” he said. “Every meeting I take, it seems like I have to download a new app.”

But unlike the rest of us, Gardner’s conversations and video calls are much more consequential. On the morning of April 16, he was speaking to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, along with other senators, about reopening the nation’s economy. 

YouTube video
Video by Cory Gardner, Special to The Colorado Sun. Editing by Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun.

Gardner has been regularly speaking with Trump through the crisis. He said the president recently called late at night to pick his brain about phasing Americans back into their normal lives.

Gardner is up for reelection in November and his seat is considered one of the most vulnerable for Republicans in 2020. His relationship with Trump is central to the campaign, and in recent months the pair have been closely aligned and supportive of each other.


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“I talk to him about what I’m hearing,” Gardner said of how his conversations with Trump go. “He’s asking, ‘How do you think we should reopen the economy, get out of where we’re at right now?’”

That same day, Gardner spoke to Gov. Jared Polis about a letter they were sending to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informing him of Colorado’s needs. He also spoke to banking leaders in the state about problems with the federal Paycheck Protection Program. And he found time to do TV interviews with stations in Colorado Springs and Grand Junction 

“Constant calls,” he said. “There are constant calls, scheduled and unscheduled.” 

Gardner has been working alone in a private office in a coworking space carved from the old Morris Elementary School, where he and his parents attended classes. It’s close enough to his house that he has still been able to make it back for lunch and, on this particular day, prepare some chili for dinner. 

He put on some special goggles his three kids bought to help keep him from crying when he cuts up onions, and in between calls helping direct the nation, got chopping.

This story is powered by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative. The ColoradoSun joined this historic collaboration with more than 20 other newsrooms across Colorado to better serve the public.

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Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....