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Gardner, Daines “At Real Risk Of Losing Their Seats,” Attempt to Save Political Careers By Greenwashing Records [New York Times]

Senators Steve Daines and Cory Gardner have repeatedly failed to stand up for public lands but are now trying to greenwash their records ahead of tough elections where both “are at real risk of losing their seats in November.”

The political ploy by Mitch McConnell – desperate to save his majority – will not erase Daines and Gardner’s long records of voting to gut clean air and water protections and selling out public lands. They’ve voted to cut funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and supported appointees who’ve overseen the largest rollback of protected public lands in U.S. history and dismantled major policies to fight climate change

Republican operatives have been increasingly concerned about Democrats’ rising chances in Colorado and Montana, where the vulnerable incumbents have been consistently outraised by their strong Democratic challengers, Montana Governor Steve Bullock and former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

New York Times: Senate Moves Toward Preserving Public Lands, and Political Careers

By Carl Hulse

June 8, 2020

Key Points:

  • The two incumbents are at real risk of losing their seats in November — and possibly taking the Senate majority with them — so Republicans are hoping to give them a boost with a major legislative win in the coming days. Doing so has required an about-face by the president and the grudging cooperation of some Republicans who have long opposed the measure on principle, believing it adds too much to the soaring deficit.
  • Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is eager to hold on to his position as majority leader after November’s elections, has gotten behind the bill, which would fully and permanently fund the $900 million annual account for acquiring and improving public lands, despite the reservations of his Republican colleagues. He is always careful to credit the two Western senators for the measure that he describes in glowing terms.
  • It is a mark of how determined Mr. McConnell is to see the measure through that he is willing to advance a bill that splits Senate Republicans — the kind of intramural division that he is usually keen to avoid. But both Mr. Gardner and Mr. Daines are in very difficult races in a tough year.
  • Mr. Daines is facing a popular Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, and Mr. Gardner is likely to face John Hickenlooper, a well-liked former governor.
  • Sometimes the efforts can backfire. When Mr. Trump proudly tweeted in April that he was sending Colorado 100 ventilators at Mr. Gardner’s request, both were castigated for short-circuiting the supply chain and allowing 400 of the 500 machines that had been secured by the state to be diverted. When Mr. Gardner threatened to block a Memorial Day recess to keep the Senate in session to take up pandemic legislation, he was hammered as weak-kneed when he relented. He was quick to note, though, that he did so only after securing Mr. McConnell’s assurance that he would get a vote on the lands bill.
  • Democrats argue that Mr. McConnell has commandeered a top priority of theirs to benefit his endangered members, using the Senate floor — which they say he has otherwise transformed into a legislative graveyard — for political advantage. But they scoff at the notion that the lands bill will rescue embattled Republican senators.

Read the full report here.

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