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
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 »
PENTAGON WILL DRAFT LEGISLATION FOR CONGRESS
Trump Directs DoD to Launch Space Force
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump signed a directive on Tuesday that ordered the Department of Defense create a Space Force as a sixth military branch. Known as Space Policy Directive 4 (SPD-4), the directive orders the Pentagon draft legislation for Congress that would create the Space Force as a part of the U.S. Air Force. This would establish the first military branch in 72 years. The Air Force is the nation's youngest branch and was added shortly after World War II."

Source:
MATTHEW WHITAKER, THEN AG, REFUSED
Trump Tried to Put Ally in Charge of Investigation Targeting Him
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"As federal prosecutors in Manhattan gathered evidence late last year about President Trump’s role in silencing women with hush payments during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump called Matthew G. Whitaker, his newly installed attorney general, with a question. He asked whether Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and a Trump ally, could be put in charge of the widening investigation, according to several American officials with direct knowledge of the call."

Source:
PER HOUSE DEMOCRATS' REPORT
Trump Appointees Promoted Saudi Arabia Nuclear Sales Despite NSC Objections
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Several current and former Trump administration appointees promoted sales of nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia despite repeated objections from members of the National Security Council and other senior White House officials, according to a new report from congressional Democrats. The officials who objected included White House lawyers and H.R. McMaster, then the chief of the National Security Council. They called for a halt in the nuclear sales discussions in 2017, citing potential conflicts of interest, national security risks and legal hurdles."

Source:
FOLLOWING LONG'S SUDDEN RESIGNATION
Trump Will Nominate Jeffrey Byard to Lead FEMA
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Donald Trump announced Friday night that he would nominate Jeffrey Byard to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency, after FEMA head Brock Long abruptly resigned earlier this week. Currently FEMA's associate Administrator for Response and Recovery, Byard is the agency's "senior-most executive over disaster response, recovery, logistics, and field operations," according to a White House statement. Before joining FEMA in September 2017, he served in multiple positions in the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, including as executive operations officer."

Source:
ON VERMONT RADIO
Bernie Sanders Declares Bid
13 hours ago
THE DETAILS
Source:
×
×

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