And with immigration back in the news, timing couldn't be worse for Gardner:Immigration reform is a key issue in Colorado elections, where 14 percent of the voting population is Hispanic and where 70 percent of voters overall support reform. Protests in favor of immigration reform, or of at least staying deportations, have become near-weekly fixtures of the state’s tight political races.
The issue’s particularly gnarly for Republican Congressman Cory Gardner. Like immigration reform itself, Gardner is navigating the limbo between House and Senate — he’s in a breakneck race against Democratic incumbent Senator Mark Udall, who voted for the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform package last year.
In early June, as immigration negotiations fell apart in the House, Gardner had a full house back in Greeley, Colo., where protesters flooded his office demanding that he call Speaker John Boehner and ask that they consider immigration reform on the House floor this year. The day before that protest, The United Farm Workers had announced that they spoke with Gardner and he had told them he wouldn’t pressure the speaker on the issue.
That first protest, which was followed by another of some 70 people, may have moved Gardner on the issue. By the last week of June he was telling protesters, “I will continue my efforts to convince Speaker Boehner and the rest of the House to bring immigration reform legislation to the floor.”
It’s difficult to know exactly what kind of immigration reform Gardner would get behind, as his votes are mostly on the “no” side of various measures. As has been pointed out in other areas of Gardner’s political history, he’s moved from being a state legislator representing rural, Republican Colorado to a Congressman representing a broader swath of rural, still largely Republican Colorado. Now that Gardner’s running to represent the entire state as senator, it appears he’s adopting a more moderate voice on key issues.
In April, politico and radio personality Ross Kaminsky attended a semi-private discussion session amongst high-level Republicans who were brainstorming how to, as Gardner has described it, put some chairs in that big GOP tent for both women and Latinos. Gardner is supposedly at the heart of these conversations and by Kaminsky’s report the Congressman appears to have a nuanced grasp of the way the nation’s broken immigration system might, for example, prevent a hardworking rural student from attending college, even if she is the brightest kid in her class.
However, when it comes to immigration, Gardner has a hard-right legislative history — detailed in the timeline below. It’s a position that so far seems fairly consistent for Gardner, as his current Congressional website touts border and benefit security at the top of his immigration reform to-do list.
“The solution to the problem … isn’t giving amnesty to the 12-20 million illegal immigrants in this country, or giving those people benefits that will only encourage more illegal immigration,” reads the section of Gardner’s official website devoted to immigration. “I will support legislation that ensures employers only hire people who are here legally and that guest workers are here temporarily.”
Yet, Gardner openly opposed the immigration standards put forward by Republican leadership this January which said essentially: border security must come first, employment verification must be updated and used, and even immigrants granted legal status should not be eligible for public benefits.
It’s possible Gardner opposed the Republican immigration standards because they would create a path to citizenship for immigrants brought into the country as children and a path to legal residency for many of those here already. As the New York Times reported in March, “[Gardner] has opposed the deportation stay for young people and objects to the Senate’s path to citizenship as amnesty.” - Colorado Independent, 7/8/14
The other issue that will hurt Gardner is birth control which Senator Mark Udall (D. CO) has taken the lead on this issue:This week, immigration has the spotlight, and Gardner’s party is pushing for deportations for Dream Act kids, falsely blaming President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy for the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border.
As Greg Sargent explained, this puts Gardner in a very awkward position once more.
In Colorado, the Latino vote can help decide statewide races, and Democrats there have been hitting Gardner for failing to say whether he supports citizenship for the 11 million here illegally. Gardner has responded by arguing that he supports legalization for those who serve in the military, which suggests he sees the issue as problematic for him. Dems have countered by noting that Gardner voted for a 2013 Steve King amendment that would have ended Obama’s ability to deprioritize deportation of the DREAMers.
Now the current crisis allows Dems to renew criticism of that vote – and jam him on it further. When Gardner voted for the King amendment, he wasn’t a statewide candidate, and the vote was largely a sop to the right. But now many Republicans are renewing the case for ending DACA as their preferred policy response to an active, ongoing crisis. - MSNBC, 7/9/14
And Udall has made birth control a key issue in his race against Gardner:The new bill, which Udall introduced Wednesday in Washington with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), is likely to take center stage in Udall’s campaign as he continues to court the votes of single women and unaffiliated Colorado voters who hold moderate positions on social issues.
The legislation is intended as a direct response to the Supreme Court’s June 30 Hobby Lobby decision, which gave some for-profit corporations the right to claim a religious exemption to the healthcare law’s requirement of contraception coverage. (Gardner praised the ruling as “the right decision … to protect religious liberty and the 1st Amendment.)
Drafted in consultation with the White House, the Murray-Udall bill would restore the legal guarantee that women can get contraceptive coverage through their employer-based insurance plans. Hobby Lobby had claimed religious objections to providing some forms of birth control under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton.
The Murray-Udall bill explicitly states that federal laws — including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — do not exempt employers from the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to cover birth control. (Churches and religious nonprofit groups may still claim an exemption under the Obama administration’s policies.)
“Women should never have to ask their bosses for a permission slip to access common forms of birth control or other critical services,” Udall said at Wednesday’s news conference. Udall said the bill would keep “women’s private health decisions out of corporate boardrooms, restoring Americans’ freedom to make personal healthcare decisions based on what’s best for women and their families, not according to their employer’s personal beliefs.” - Los Angeles Times, 7/9/14
Again, a lot is at stake and we can't allow an extremist like Gardner to duper voters. Click here to get involved and donate to Udall's campaign:Udall is facing a fierce challenge from U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, and the outcome could determine which party controls the Senate next year.
Women's rights have become a big issue in the race as Democrats are hoping single women will carry them to victory in November.
Already, Udall has aired commercials that are critical of Gardner's views on birth control and women's reproductive rights. - Denver Post, 7/8/14