Cory Gardner won’t easily escape his record on personhood and abortion
Colorado Republicans gave Ken Buck his best shot ever at federal office by having him abandon his run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Mark Udall to seek the relatively safe 4th Congressional District House seat held by Rep. Cory Gardner.
Gardner at first refused the honor, but under persuasion from the party establishment, ambition overwhelmed security and he entered the Senate race.
Word at the time was that Buck was too closely associated with the tea party Republicans to win a statewide office, though he might hold on to the conservative 4th District seat.
There were no doubt other considerations as well, but electability rated high in the selection process to choose Gardner over Buck. Ideologically, they are indistinguishable, but Gardner is a rising star in the GOP right wing, while Buck’s image is tarnished by his loss to Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010.
According to a LifeNews.com report favorable to Gardner, “During his tenure, Gardner has voted 100 percent pro-life, casting 14 out of 14 times since he was elected to Congress. Gardner has voted to stop taxpayer funding of abortions, he’s repeatedly voted against Obamacare…he’s voted to de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business and to ban sex-selection abortions.”
And as for distancing himself from the tea party House radicals, Americans United for Change reports, “Colorado’s latest Senate candidate — the one recruited specifically to get the Tea Party off the ticket — actually votes with the Tea Party virtually every chance he gets.”
Gardner has compiled an 85 percent record for voting with the tea party faction, according to a study by Americans United for Change of issues supported by right-wing organizations.
“Cory Gardner’s incredibly strong loyalty to the Tea Party is hugely ironic given that he was recruited to run for Senate specifically to get his Tea Party colleague Ken Buck off the ticket,” said Americans United for Change President Brad Woodhouse. “What this scorecard shows is that while Gardner may have better control over what comes out of his mouth, his actual views are pretty hard to differentiate from Ken Buck’s or that of any other Tea Party poster child.”
As a “Tea Party poster child,” Gardner has been a tireless champion for bills to abolish or severely limit abortion rights, including in cases of rape and incest. For example, he co-sponsored Congressman Todd (Legitimate Rape) Akin’s bill to narrow the definition of rape, and he voted in favor of prohibiting abortion in cases of rape and incest.
During his campaign for office, Gardner bragged about circulating petitions in his church in support of the Personhood Amendment in 2008 and again in 2010. Its failure by roughly 70 to 30 percent both times sent a firm and clear message of where Colorado voters stand on this issue.
Despite this clear message from Colorado voters, Gardner co-sponsored for the past two years the “Life Begins at Conception Act.” This bill declares “life begins at conception” to be a “scientific fact” and gives a fertilized egg the legal status of a fully developed human being.
Facing an inevitable backlash for his ultra-conservative positions on abortion and personhood in a statewide race, Gardner now wants to walk his way back from the extreme positions he has supported throughout his political career.
Attempting to moderate his hard-line anti-abortion and pro-personhood principles from the very recent past, Gardner told the Denver Post, “I’ve learned to listen. I don’t get everything right the first time.”
While he still claims to be anti-abortion, Gardner now seeks to distance himself from pro-life extremists who want legislation that would result in restricting access not only to legal and safe abortions, but to common forms of birth control.
Not too surprisingly, the anti-abortion, pro-life, personhood-supporting, radical-right party faithful are screaming betrayal.
On the other hand, Democrats are not at all convinced Gardner’s sudden conversion to supporter. As a Udall ad claimed, “His beliefs haven’t changed, Just his ambitions.”
Before this election is over, Gardner might just wish he had followed his first impulse to resist ambition and serve his safe 4th District where his views are more widely shared than in the state as a whole.