DENVER — Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Cory Gardner released a TV ad Monday, a simple spot filmed in Yuma, his home town on the eastern plains. The second-term Congressman, popular in his district but not well known statewide, is clearly looking to increase name recognition at this point in the campaign.
He lounges with his daughter in the back of a pickup on what looks like main street USA. He touts himself as a new-generation lawmaker ready to shake up politics for the benefit of the next generation.
He points out that Yuma is two hours from Denver. “In a place like this, you learn to get along.” He laments that Washington D.C. doesn’t work that way, leveraging months of low approval ratings for Congress among voters.
“I’ll be a senator who solves problems, instead of making them worse,” Gardner promises as the ad pans to shots of him chatting with constituents.
As some pundits have pointed out, it’s an odd take in a race against Democrat Mark Udall, a famously spry mountain-climbing 63 year old, who is arguably a more robust physical presence than is Gardner. It might also be a hard sell in general, pitching the Republican candidate in the race as the youth candidate. The Republican party here as around the nation has all but ceded the under-30 voting bloc, standing squarely on the wrong side of defining youth-voter issues like clean energy development, expanded gay rights, health insurance reform and full-range women’s reproductive health care.
Indeed, Udall’s campaign was quick to argue that Gardner’s track record in the House doesn’t necessarily support the main assertion in the ad — that Gardner is about “getting along” in Washington. Although vote-tracking sites tend to lump Gardner in the middle of the GOP on conservative ideology, the Udall camp points out that the National Journal rated Gardner the 10th-most-conservative member of the House. They point out that Gardner is part of the bloc of lawmakers that have derailed legislation repeatedly, leading pundits to refer to the House GOP as the “party of no,” which sees compromise as a bad thing and which has repeatedly threatened and succeeded to shut down the government, costing the economy and taxpayers billions of dollars.
But analysts have praised the ad for its positive and simple approach. The focus is clear, creating a specific association between Gardner and geniality, fatherhood, small towns and smaller government.