A Brief Note on Senator-Elect Cory Gardner of Colorado

Just a brief note on an interesting aspect of Cory Gardner’s election Tuesday that I have not seen mentioned anywhere. In the fall of 2013, I spent a fair chunk of time in the rural outreaches of Eastern Colorado — the Eastern Plains, as the area is called — after several counties held a non-binding referendum on whether to secede from Colorado and create a brand new state. The state was to be called North Colorado, but I don’t believe the name was set in stone.

Anyway, I was compelled by this little secession movement, because unlike most of the whacko-birds who call for secession, most of these folks were eminently reasonable. They weren’t demanding the immediate imprisonment of Barack Obama, nor did they believe that Chemtrails were wafting down from on high to poison their cattle, or anything like that. They just simply did not feel that their interests were being adequately represented by the Colorado state government. Population trends in the state have consolidated power around urban zones like Denver and Boulder, and the governing priorities of these places do not align with places like Yuma County, which borders Nebraska, for obvious reasons.

Yes, many folks were upset about the Gun Control Legislation that had been ushered through by Governor John Hickenlooper (who narrowly eked out a re-election victory Tuesday) and were motivated in part by their perceived loss of Second Amendment Rights. They did not feel they had been fairly consulted on the legislation, which impacted them disproportionately relative to other parts of the state. (By the way, one often hears similar complaints leveled about Andrew Cuomo’s Gun Control Legislation from upstate and Western New York folks. “It was rammed through, we weren’t consulted,” etc.)

I personally think that many of these criticisms are fair. I don’t see why the government should, in general, criminalize conduct that otherwise would not have resulted in harm to anyone. I don’t think rural gun owners having their preferred weaponry generally hurts anyone to the extent that government intervention is warranted. Yeah, I’m not crazy about many aspects of gun culture, but I don’t think problems with gun culture ought to be (or can be) remedied by the blunt force of the state.

These folks’ concerns extended beyond just Gun Stuff. Many registered the very reasonable complaint that they did not feel local media provided enough weather coverage for their needs, and that’s a big deal, because agriculture is the top industry there by a longshot. How this deficiency in weather coverage was supposed to be rectified by creating a “51st State” was not entirely clear, but still, the grievance was legitimate.

So one of the things that annoyed proponents of the “51st State” proposal — which passed in several counties but not the most populous county in the area in question, Weld, where the city of Greeley is located — was that Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) had said jack squat about the issue. This cut deeply to people in the most rural of the rural areas that I visited, like Yuma and Wray. (These places are impossibly sparse. It was a really mind-bending experience for me to visit them, actually. Gives one a broader perspective on the incredibly variegated ways that folks live in America.)

Cory Gardner happens to be from Yuma. I spoke to people who knew him. They were very disappointed that he didn’t say anything about the “51st State” movement, which they suspected he privately supported, but was staying publicly neutral on for reasons of political expediency.

Anyway, I think that says a lot about Gardner. Here was a powerful federal elected official who happens to hail from this tiny little town, and could’ve advocated for their interests and maybe given a boost to the referendum. But he opted to stay quiet. This was around the time he was being courted for a Senate run by National GOP types.

Does it surprise you, then, that Cory Gardner also sold out his own Church in pursuit of the Senate seat? It shouldn’t.

I watched a pretty large number of debates for this election cycle, and Gardner’s were some of the most insufferable. Mark Udall, the relatively idiosyncratic Democrat Senator he ousted, actually made effort to sound like a regular human, whereas Gardner just tediously repeated talking points that the National Republican Senatorial Committee had beaten into him. Some of his lines were straight carbon copies of lines uttered by other similarly-situated GOP candidates. It was just embarrassing.

Cory Gardner forgot where he came from in pursuit of power. This is an old story. But here we are again. I don’t think Coloradans will be well-served by him as their Junior Senator.

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