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“Gardner Will Be Asked to Answer for Trump” as Hickenlooper Enters the General Election with Strong Advantages

As Colorado’s Popular Former Governor Rolled to a Decisive Primary Win, It’s Clear Why “Republicans Did Not Want This Outcome”

Gardner, with Trump “100%,” Has Also Refused to Denounce the Republican QAnon Conspiracy Theorist Running for Congress in CO-3

Republican Senator Cory Gardner is staring down a “very steep” climb after popular former governor John Hickenlooper “easily” advanced to the general election last night with a “comfortable win.” Hickenlooper “begins the next phase of the Senate race with an edge over Gardner” after overcoming millions in outside spending, underscoring why “Republicans did not want this outcome” and reinforcing Hickenlooper’s deep support and resilience among voters. Colorado Democrats drove record primary turnout, far outpacing Republicans as Hickenlooper earned even more votes than Gardner did in his uncontested primary.

Senator Gardner will now be forced to “outrun an avalanche” of questions about his early endorsement and continued support for President Trump, and his record of doing “little to separate himself” from the president. 

Gardner started Day 1 of the general election with an epic disaster of an interview where he:

  • Refused to answersix times whether he supports the Trump administration’s attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act”
  • Would not say whether Trump has done anything to lose his endorsement
  • And dodged on whether he supports Trump’s controversial nominee to run the Bureau of Land Management, anti-public lands zealot William Perry Pendley

And it’s not just Trump: Gardner will also be sharing the Republican ticket with QAnon conspiracy theorist and CO-3 Republican nominee Lauren Boebert, who is expected to “give Gardner one more headache” in his uphill re-election campaign. 

“As Senator Gardner runs for re-election, he’ll have to answer for his unwavering endorsement and ‘100%’ support of Donald Trump and his refusal to denounce the Republican QAnon conspiracy theorist running for Congress on the same ticket as him,” said DSCC spokesperson Stewart Boss. “No matter how hard he tries to hide, Senator Gardner can’t escape the fact that he’s enabled the most divisive elements of his party or his own toxic record selling out Coloradans’ health care for his special interest allies and wealthy donors in Washington.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • Denver Post: “Hickenlooper begins the next phase of the Senate race with an edge over Gardner, a freshman senator from Yuma, due to the state’s recent Democratic tilt and the unpopularity of President Donald Trump here. On Monday, Trump reiterated his support for Gardner, whom he rallied with in Colorado Springs earlier this year.”
  • Colorado Sun’s Mike Littwin: “Gardner will be asked to answer for Trump — on COVID, on ‘white power’ retweets, on reported Russian bounties, on economic calamity, on Trump’s defense of Confederate statues as a nation marches in protests over George Floyd’s killing by police and amid cries against racial injustice, on voting by mail, on a list that changes — and yet grows — with each day. I know Gardner is great at avoiding questions, but he’s got to outrun an avalanche this time.”
  • Associated Press: “No Republican has won a statewide election in Colorado since 2014, when Gardner won by less than 2 percentage points in a strong year for Republicans. Hickenlooper was reelected as governor that year by a wider margin.”
  • Roll Call: “As one of two Republicans running for reelection in a state Hillary Clinton won in 2016, Gardner is one of the most vulnerable senators. Colorado has also been trending toward Democrats in recent years, making unseating Gardner a top priority as the party looks to win back the Senate.”
  • Reuters: “After his win, Hickenlooper made it clear in a video address to supporters that he would tie Gardner, who has been closely aligned with Republican President Donald Trump, directly to what he said were Trump’s failed policies. ‘I’ve never lost an election in this state and I don’t intend to lose this one,’ Hickenlooper said.”
  • Washington Post: “Gardner has been criticized by the League of Conservation Voters and other green groups for voting to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and to support President Trump’s rollback of Barack Obama-era rules curbing climate-warming pollution from power plants. On Tuesday evening, the political arm of the Environmental Defense Fund was already noting that Hickenlooper’s victory makes for a ‘stark contrast’ with Gardner’s ‘anti-environmental voting record.’”
  • HuffPost: “President Donald Trump’s approval rating in the state has been in the negatives ever since he took office. And Gardner has done little to separate himself from Trump. He chaired the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2018 midterm elections, helping to increase the GOP majority in the Senate and cementing himself as a party man. Gardner endorsed Trump’s reelection in early 2019.”
  • Colorado Public Radio: “Democratic State Rep. Bri Buentello, who represents Pueblo, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans but President Donald Trump won, thinks Hickenlooper has a great resume of creating jobs and a strong record on health care, public lands and water rights. ‘He’s also the man who’s won statewide elections twice because he knows Colorado is so much more than just Denver, Boulder and El Paso counties and he campaigns like it,’ Buentello said. ‘He’s immensely popular in a swing state with a healthy faction of independent voters; simply put, he’s the man to beat Cory Gardner.’”
  • New York Times’ Adam Nagourney: “Republicans did not want this outcome. To watch in the coming days: whether the national party walks away from Colorado and puts its resources into other states.”
  • @StuPolitics: “Hickenlooper’s comfortable win confirms the shape of Colorado’s 2020 Senate contest: Incumbent Cory Gardner is a heavy underdog for a second term.”
  • @LarrySabato: “Hickenlooper won his primary with a landslide against a substantive opponent… Few question he’s the favorite to win against freshmen Sen. Cory Gardner (R). Trump will fare rather badly in CO, and that makes Gardner’s climb very steep.”
  • @VicVela1: “If Hickenlooper won by 20 points, did he really have a rocky month? Did he really stumble over the finish line? Or is it just that he wins races in Colorado for a reason, despite his imperfections — that he’s more popular here than people give him credit for?”
  • @JoeStGeorge: “Hickenlooper’s win tonight should remind everyone political twitter is not real life.”

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