Health law spurs Gardner to enter Senate race
Cory Gardner, the Yuma Republican who shook the state GOP last week when he announced his bid for the U.S. Senate, decided to challenge U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat, because of the problems Gardner and other Coloradans experienced with the Affordable Care Act.
Gardner, who served two terms in the House representing the 4th Congressional district in the northeastern corner of the state, said he began thinking of a run for the Senate in August when problems with the Affordable Care Act hit home.
His own health insurance policy was cancelled that month, putting him among 335,000 other Coloradans who saw their insurance policies cancelled because they didn’t qualify under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare by its detractors.
“Instead of acknowledging the problems with Obamacare, they called people who lost their health insurance liars,” Gardner said.
Gardner said he had opted out of the health coverage available to him as a federal elected official and purchased a policy for himself, his wife, Jaime, and their children.
He decided in February that he could make more headway against the new health care law by altering the makeup of the Democrat-run Senate than he could by continuing to hold “a safe seat in a safe majority” in the House.
With his announcement, two Republicans, Ken Buck and Amy Stephens, dropped their Senate bids. State Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, remains in the race.
If he captures the party’s nomination, Gardner would eventually face Udall, a supporter of the health-insurance law who earlier this year tangled with state regulators about how many Coloradans had seen their health insurance policies canceled.
Udall’s campaign manager, Adam Dunstone, said in a statement that Gardner’s voting record in the House “placed him in the top 10 most conservative members of the House,” a record that made Gardner more conservative than former Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, now a candidate for Colorado governor.
Gardner spoke Sunday in a telephone interview with The Sentinel after his Saturday announcement in Denver. Winter weather prevented him from traveling west and he said he it appeared another winter storm would prevent him from returning to Washington, D.C., today.
Gardner said he would present his “Four Corners” approach to dealing with the state’s issues: Environment, energy, economy and education.
He stressed responsible energy development in particular as being needed for the improvement of the West Slope economy and said that education should be left to local officials.
“We should be sure we don’t have Congress in the classroom,” Gardner said.