National GOP favorite Gardner decries national political influence

Cory Gardner, who has been part of the Republican National Congressional Committee’s Young Gun program for months and boasted on his website about the selection, told a talk radio show audience Thursday May 13 that Democrats were attempting to “nationalize” his fourth Congressional district run against Rep. Betsy Markey.

Speaking on KFKA’s Amy Oliver show, Gardner (AUDIO) pointed to donations from political action committees to support his assertion. He singled out Emily’s List and Act Blue. Emily’s List supports abortion rights by collecting money donated by individual Americans in support of pro-choice women candidates. Act Blue calls itself a mere “conduit” organization. It supplies internet tools that any Democratic candidate can use and donors select the candidates to whom they want to give. Gardner said these groups have “poured money in from across the country into the race.”

Gardner said 95 percent of the money for his campaign came from Colorado donors, a fact verified by campaign finance site Open Secrets. Markey has received roughly the same amount of money from Colorado voters but has raked in an additional $142,920 from out of state, making the Colorado percentage of her take roughly 79 percent.

Calling out the “national” quality of the race is an odd tack for Gardner to take in the race. Gardner first announced his candidacy in the Washington Quarterly and has been criticized for missing days as a member of the state legislature because he was attending fundraising and strategy meetings in DC.

Gardner campaign spokesman Mike Ciletti said both parties have tagged the district as competitive. “Definitely the Fourth is in play,” Ciletti told the Colorado Statesman. “Both sides have been targeted it in the country because it’s a seat that [Republican 2008 presidential candidate] John McCain won but that [Democrat] Betsy Markey also won [the same year].”

The fact that Colorado has been a swing state and the Fourth district traditionally Republican has drawn the focus of national strategists on both sides looking to notch key wins in 2010. It’s surely the main reason Gardner was first eyed by the national Young Gun program. The program provides training and financial support from national sources and advisers.

Gardner went on in the segment to attack Environmental Protection Agency standards in Northern Colorado and said he was running for office in part to fight EPA control over Colorado’s air quality. He said he would stand up for states’ rights.

It was another odd note to sound, as the oil spill disaster unfolds in the Gulf destroying billions of dollars in business and wracking up untold environmental damage without regard to state lines, soiling coastal regions and ruining businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and spurring politicians and business leaders on all sides of the political spectrum to call out for a federal response.

“If [the EPA] comes in again and try and boss us around and tell us what to do, I am going to stand up to them and that is why I am running for Congress,” Gardner said. “I want to go out there and fight the EPA and tell them ‘You know what? You are not going to boss the state around.’ We have the right. It is the 10th Amendment and we are going to stand up for it.”

[Photo: Markey and Gardner]

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