By Katie Farnan
With little over 100 days until the presidential election, and with COVID-19 keeping people distant, elected officials understandably are not hosting many public forums. Sen. Cory Gardner is no exception.
But, prior to COVID-19, Gardner had been maintaining such distance from his constituents that political groups organized a statewide bus tour to provide Coloradans with a platform to ask the senator their questions.
A lot has happened since summer 2019, but Gardner’s appearances continue to be limited to closed-door meetings and fundraising parties. Even his virtual “town hall” calls robo-dial pre-selected people who then must have their questions screened in advance.
Therefore, Coloradans must use their own platforms to ask the questions that Gardner has yet to address. Here are a few of mine:
For the six years he’s been in office, Senator Gardner has said he supports DREAMers. However, despite many opportunities to lead on the issue from his influential position in the Senate, the House-passed HR-6, The Dream and Promise Act, languishes. Meanwhile, the White House is announcing draconian policies and executive orders designed to discourage and vilify immigrants living in or planning to come to the United States. In his six-year tenure in the senate, what concrete actions has Gardner taken to affirm that he actually supports immigrants?
The GOP has made clear through lawsuits, legislation and now a Supreme Court challenge by the Trump administration (one that will not be handed down until after the election) that they’ll continue efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Gardner has voted repeatedly to repeal the ACA without a replacement plan, even while the majority of Coloradans have said they want to save or improve the law. So, what exactly is Gardner’s plan for ensuring affordable health care access to Coloradans?
In his 2014 campaign ads, Gardner touted his support for over-the-counter contraceptives and reversed his position on personhood, attempting to paint himself as a supporter of reproductive freedom. But upon securing his Senate seat, Gardner has voted in extremist judges to lifetime appointments, most notably Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh’s dissent in the Louisiana abortion clinic case this month opens the door to future challenges to abortion access. How should people facing reproductive choices track Gardner’s reversal of his reversal on reproductive freedom?
Despite having won his election in 2014 by mail-in ballot, Gardner has opted not to challenge or censure Trump as he repeatedly lies about so-called voter fraud. HR-1, the For the People Act, was passed a year and a half ago and provides election protections that would address election integrity. Given the growing concerns over free and fair elections in the wake of 2016, why has Gardner not come out in support of HR-1?
Essential workers across the country — among the hardest hit by COVID — are demanding better protections like hazard pay, paid time off, expanded health care coverage, and investment in public services. The HEROES Act, passed in the House and now languishing in Senate purgatory along with HR-1 and HR-6, would provide such protections. But Gardner’s previous “yes” vote for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 helped land the country in the unstable position we’re in today. Can Gardner explain how his dedication to prioritizing the needs of corporations over our nation’s workers is improving workers’ lives and financial security?
Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence, his willful negligence of COVID-19, which has led to a surging U.S. death rate, his racist demonization of immigrants, his silence on Russia offering bounties to the Taliban for killing U.S. soldiers, his efforts to influence the election by unlawfully coordinating with foreign powers, are only a tiny sampling of the proof that Trump is unfit for the presidency. But where, specifically, is the line that Trump must cross in order for Gardner to withdraw his endorsement?
With no way of reaching the senator, it’s clear that Coloradans will continue to be sidelined in service to Gardner’s greater loyalty. In February of this year, President Trump introduced Gardner at a rally in Colorado Springs by saying, “There was no waver. (Senator Gardner)’s been with us. There was no waver with Cory and we appreciate that.” My final question for Gardner, 100 days out from the election: Still?
Katie Farnan is a librarian by education, full-time working mom of two, and a lead organizer with the grassroots group Indivisible Front Range Resistance. Twitter: @indivisiblefrr.