The Denver Post, Colorado’s paper of record, endorsed Republican Congressman Cory Gardner on Friday in his race to unseat incumbent U.S. Democratic Senator Mark Udall.
The paper’s editorial board wrote that the nation’s detested Congress needs fresh leadership and argued that the 40-year-old politico from Yuma has made a mark in every position he has won as he has climbed the ladder from congressional staffer to state lawmaker to U.S. House member.
The Post said Washington gridlock had to be broken and that sending Gardner to the Senate could tip the balance of the higher chamber toward the Republicans, which would mean Republicans would almost assuredly control both chambers of Congress.
[blockquote][T]hat doesn’t mean [the Senate] will simply butt heads with President Obama as the Republican House has done. As The Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib recently pointed out, “A look back shows that eras of evenly divided power — Congress fully controlled by one party, the presidency by the other — have turned out to be among the most productive” because both sides temper their policies.[/blockquote]
Gardner, however, has not compiled the record of a lawmaker who tempers his views on policy. He has been an ambitious up-and-comer and among the most reliable party-line voters in the era of the Tea Party-controlled House. He has joined the hardline members of his caucus in championing anti-abortion personhood, fighting against gay rights, trumpeting climate change denialism, fear-mongering on Obamacare and embracing Paul Ryan’s trickle-down economic plans that aim to accelerate the policies that have slashed support for the middle class and heaped tax breaks on corporations and the wealthy for three-and-a-half decades, resulting in the worst economic inequality among the U.S. population in a century.
The Post writes that most of those Gardner positions are less relevant than they have been made out to be in the election-year campaign environment.
[blockquote]If Gardner had been a cultural warrior throughout his career, we would hesitate to support him, because we strongly disagree with him on same-sex marriage and abortion rights. But in fact he has emphasized economic and energy issues…
For that matter, his past views on same-sex marriage are becoming irrelevant now that the Supreme Court has let appeals court rulings stand and marriage equality appears unstoppable. And contrary to Udall’s tedious refrain, Gardner’s election would pose no threat to abortion rights[/blockquote]
“In their irritation with the campaigns, voters should not lose sight of the fact that a great deal is at stake,” concludes the Post. “A dysfunctional Congress calls for action when voters have an attractive option to the gridlocked status quo.”
The endorsement comes three days after political editor Chuck Plunkett and reporter Lynn Bartels took pains at a candidate debate hosted by the Post to try and wring answers from Gardner to questions on his support for personhood, questions he has dodged for months. They failed, just as reporters across the state have failed. The endorsement also runs counter to a decades-long view of the paper among the public as moderate-to-left-leaning in its political coverage.