Facing a tough re-election in an increasingly blue state, Republican Colorado Senator Cory Gardner tweeted out a glowing, full-throated endorsement of his effectiveness at representing not just Republicans but also Democratic and independent voters. But the endorsement came not from a respected newspaper or independent expert, but from his own state party chairman.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), a Tea Party conservative and disgraced former federal prosecutor, is currently serving as state party chairman for the Colorado GOP. In an op-ed in the Colorado Sun on Sunday, he offered lavish praise to Gardner, Colorado’s sole remaining GOP statewide elected official. “In a time where nobody can get along, Sen. Gardner has managed to be one of the most bipartisan and effective senators Colorado has ever seen,” Buck wrote. He then claims that “fake environmental groups” are attacking Gardner (who owns a horrendous 10% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters — though that is more than triple Buck’s own score). Buck also notes that voters should not be mad that Gardner opposes free college because he filed an unsuccessful bill that would let the few employers who choose to contribute to employees’ student loan repayments do so in a tax-free account.
Gardner tweeted the story on Monday, quoting Buck’s claim that “Sen. Gardner has [sic] and will remain an effective voice for Republicans, Unaffiliateds and Democrats in Colorado.”
"Sen. Gardner has and will remain an effective voice for Republicans, Unaffiliateds and Democrats in Colorado." Read more from @cologop Chairman @BuckForColorado in the @ColoradoSun here: https://t.co/CedgBdlN7P
— Cory Gardner (@CoryGardner) June 17, 2019
In even the most charitable of interpretations, the leader of a statewide Republican Party being touted as an authority on bipartisanship is an odd choice. In the case of Cory Gardner, whose track record on bipartisanship is publicly available, it’s downright farcical.
Gardner has voted with President Donald Trump nearly 90 percent of the time, including efforts to repeal Obamacare, to cut taxes for the very rich, and to confirm Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Given that his state gave Trump just 43% of the vote in 2016 and his disapproval rating in Colorado has soared ever since, Gardner’s record is considerably out of step with his constituents. In fact, the FiveThirtyEight “Trump Plus-Minus” scale ranks him just behind Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) as the senator who votes in support of Trump, measured against Trump’s 2016 vote share in his state.
After refusing to endorse Trump in 2016, Gardner backed the president’s re-election this January.
Ken Buck unsuccessfully ran for the state’s other Senate seat in 2010. Over the course of that race, he said voters should back him over a female candidate because he does “not wear high heels,” said being gay is “a choice” and “like alcoholism,” and called climate science “the greatest hoax that has been perpetrated.”