Cory Gardner’s Run Shows GOP Expects a Promising Year

Top-tier candidates continue to jump in, as Obamacare weighs down Democrats.

Cory Gardner (R-CO) (R) celebrates after he luckily drew number one during an office selection lottery for new House members November 19, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Alex Roarty
Add to Briefcase
Alex Roarty
Feb. 26, 2014, 3:35 p.m.

Sur­prise de­cisions by a slew of top-tier Re­pub­lic­an chal­lengers to enter this year’s Sen­ate race show that the GOP really does be­lieve Obama­care’s dis­astrous im­ple­ment­a­tion will de­liv­er a sweep­ing set of vic­tor­ies in Novem­ber.

The best and most re­cent ex­ample came Wed­nes­day, when The Den­ver Post re­por­ted that Rep. Cory Gard­ner of Col­or­ado will chal­lenge Demo­crat­ic Sen. Mark Ud­all. The move shocked Wash­ing­ton’s polit­ic­al es­tab­lish­ment: Not only was the two-term con­gress­man risk­ing what looked like a bright fu­ture in the House, but he had an­nounced last year that he wouldn’t run for Sen­ate. At the time, Ud­all looked nearly im­possible to de­feat in blue-trend­ing Col­or­ado.

But that was be­fore Obama­care’s web­site mal­func­tioned and people lost their health in­sur­ance, a polit­ic­al boon­doggle that has dragged on Demo­crats’ poll num­bers every­where. Now, Gard­ner clearly sees a path to vic­tory that wasn’t there be­fore Obama­care’s troubles — one wide enough to risk his polit­ic­al fu­ture on. And he’s not the only Re­pub­lic­an to make that cal­cu­la­tion.

Former Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed Gillespie also un­ex­pec­tedly launched a cam­paign earli­er this year, tak­ing on Demo­crat­ic Sen. Mark Warner of Vir­gin­ia. The pop­u­lar in­cum­bent had drawn little op­pos­i­tion be­fore Gillespie’s en­trance, but Gillespie said the Af­ford­able Care Act gave him a chance at vic­tory. And though he might ul­ti­mately pass on a cam­paign, Scott Brown’s po­ten­tial run against Demo­crat­ic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hamp­shire has been en­cour­aged by sink­ing Demo­crat­ic ap­prov­al num­bers.

But it’s one thing to ar­gue, as Re­pub­lic­ans have for months, that they’re poised to win big be­cause an un­pop­u­lar is­sue is drag­ging down the op­pon­ent. It’s an­oth­er thing en­tirely for cred­ible Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates to bank an en­tire can­did­acy on it.

“Over the last few months as we’ve watched Obama­care and the pres­id­ent de­cline and a com­men­sur­ate de­cline in Ud­all’s num­bers, there’s been al­most a, ‘Darnit, why don’t we have a stronger can­did­ate get in this race?’ ” said Dick Wadhams, a long­time GOP con­sult­ant in Col­or­ado. “There was not a clear-cut chal­lenger out there with the stature to raise money and ar­tic­u­late is­sues.”

“Well, we’ve got that today,” he ad­ded. “Cory unites the party, and ap­peals to all those crit­ic­al swing voters. He’s just a game-changer.”

GOP hopes were boos­ted fur­ther when the party’s 2010 Sen­ate nom­in­ee, Ken Buck, an­nounced he would end his cam­paign against Ud­all and run for Gard­ner’s old con­gres­sion­al seat, ac­cord­ing to the Gree­ley Tribune. His exit will help the GOP avoid a messy primary. State Sen. Owen Hill and state Rep. Amy Steph­ens re­main in the primary, but GOP in­siders in Col­or­ado ex­pect Steph­ens — the nom­in­al choice of the es­tab­lish­ment who has struggled to raise money — will bow out of the race soon.

The GOP needs to win back a net of six seats to take con­trol of the Sen­ate ma­jor­ity. Gard­ner’s en­trance rep­res­ents, to date, the high-wa­ter mark in the Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans’ at­tempt to ex­pand the 2014 map bey­ond the core group of sev­en red states de­fen­ded by Demo­crats (Alaska, Montana, West Vir­gin­ia, South Dakota, Louisi­ana, Arkan­sas, and North Car­o­lina). Along with the emer­gence of Re­pub­lic­an Terri Lynn Land in Michigan, the party has three cred­ible can­did­ates run­ning in blue states con­trolled by Demo­crats — and four if Brown runs in New Hamp­shire.

The GOP isn’t the fa­vor­ite to win any of the blue-state cam­paigns, at least not yet. But their can­did­ates will put Demo­crats on the de­fens­ive.

What We're Following See More »
LOTS TO DISCUSS
European Commission President to Visit White House
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

With President Trump back from a trip in which he seemed to undermine European alliances while cozying up to Vladimir Putin, the White House has announced that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will visit on July 25. According to a statement, the two "will focus on improving transatlantic trade and forging a stronger economic partnership."

501(c)4 GROUPS AFFECTED
IRS Relaxes Reporting Rules for Dark Money Groups
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS
POOR REVIEWS HIDDEN FROM PUBLIC
House Launches Investigation Into VA Nursing Homes
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The House Veterans Affairs Committee has launched an investigation into care at the VA’s 133 nursing homes after learning the agency had given almost half of them the lowest possible score in secret, internal rankings. The probe follows an investigation by The Boston Globe and USA TODAY that showed 60 VA nursing homes ... rated only one out of five stars for quality last year in the agency’s own ranking system." Internal documents revealed that "patients in more than two-thirds of VA nursing homes were more likely to suffer pain and serious bedsores than their private sector counterparts, and that "VA nursing homes scored worse than private nursing homes on a majority of key quality indicators, including rates of anti-psychotic drug prescription and decline in daily living skills."

Source:
"LIGHT-TOUCH" REGULATION
House Republican Introduces Net Neutrality Legislation
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Colorado Representative Mike Coffman has introduced a bill "that would codify free internet regulations into law" by instituting the "basic outlines of the Federal Communication Commission’s 2015 Open Internet order." Coffman's bill amends the 1934 Telecommunications Act by "banning providers from controlling traffic quality and speed and forbidding them from participating in paid prioritization programs or charging access fees from edge providers." The GOP congressman has also "signed on to a Democrat-led effort to reinstate the net neutrality rules that the FCC voted to repeal late last year."

Source:
LINKED TO NRA
DOJ Indicts Another Russian National
21 hours ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login