GOP ‘Young Gun’ Cory Gardner compelled to spin his Democrat past

Fourth District U.S. Congressional candidate Cory Gardner, a state senator from Yuma, is a rising Republican Party star, a flamboyant participant in the tea party protests this year who also has won the support of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which nominated him to its “young gun” candidate program this summer. As has long been known, Gardner was a registered Democrat in college, but the Fort Collins Coloradoan reported Tuesday night that, contrary to what Gardner has been telling supporters, he was also a Democrat after he graduated. More than that, he volunteered for Fort Collins politician and political science professor Susan Kirkpatrick when she was running to represent the 4th District in 1998 against conservative Republican incumbent Bob Schaffer.

Rep. Cory Gardner
Rep. Cory Gardner

Indeed, Gardner made the seconding speech at the Democratic 4th Congressional District assembly that nominated Kirkpatrick to run against Schaffer. The speech for Kirkpatrick, a strong environmentalist candidate and champion of diversity hiring policies and the separation of church and state, may have been Gardner’s first public political presentation.

In advance of the Coloradoan story, which was spurred by reporting underway by a “national political magazine,” Gardner posted online a “Statement Regarding Party Registration.” Nowhere, however, does it mention his work for Kirkpatrick, a fact dug up by the Coloradoan’s Bob Moore after Gardner’s Statement on Registration posted. The fudging by omission on Gardner’s part would seem to support the feeling reported in the Coloradoan story that Gardner feels the need to spin his past.

Gardner’s statement:

November 3, 2009

“I was raised in a family of conservative Eastern Plains Democrats. My granddad is a Democrat, my father is a Democrat. In high school, I registered as a Democrat, as well. In college, I realized that the values I was raised with and ideals that I believe in were aligned with conservative Republican values and ideals.

“While in college at CSU in 1996, I interned with a Republican State Representative, Russ George. When I attended law school, I joined the Federalist Society, a conservative student and national association, eventually becoming the president of its local chapter. Around the same time, I changed my party registration to accurately reflect my beliefs. I am proud to have traveled a journey similar to that of Ronald Reagan.”

The Coloradoan talked to Nancy Rumfelt, campaign manager for Tom Lucero, Gardner’s primary election opponent.

Rumfelt said she initially approached Gardner when considering whom to support in the race but felt from the brief conversation that he dodged her questions. She didn’t trust him. Rumfelt said the spinning statement offered by Gardner on the history of his party affiliations was more of the same.

“If you were a Democrat and did support someone for Congress, just be honest about it and don’t try to spin it,” Rumfelt told the Coloradoan. “Just trust the people.”

What did Gardner say at that Democratic Assembly in 1998? Is there a transcript? A video? Send guesses, memories, links, photos or, best yet, video to the tip address below or leave it in the comments!

Got a tip? Freelance story pitch? Send us an e-mail. Follow The Colorado Independent on Twitter.

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