A longtime Republican strategist thinks that Republican Congressman Cory Gardner has an excellent chance of beating Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall in the U.S. Senate race in November.
When Gardner, 39, decided Wednesday to vacate his 4th Congressional seat and run for the U.S. Senate, former Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams said Gardner was a great move. Wadhams said Gardner is a dynamic, new face of the Colorado Republican Party who can change the state politically.
“Democrats have dominated the state for a dozen years, and Cory is exactly the kind of dynamic, new candidate that we needed to come forward to run in these two major races, the governor’s or senator’s,” Wadhams said. “This was a game-changing moment. It is a critical moment for my party and, frankly, our state.”
Wadhams said Gardner has a pleasant, down-to-earth demeanor that people warm up to.
“He attracts people. He doesn’t repel them,” said Wadhams, who is currently a Republican consultant. “He can articulate why he believes in the conservative philosophy. Cory just brings so much talent and presence to the U.S. Senate race.”
He added, “He’s really carving out a new era in Colorado politics, especially for Republicans. I think Cory is going to win this election. It is not going to be easy to unseat an incumbent, even one as weak as Udall, and we’re going to look back and say that this was the day where things started to change.”
Wadhams said Gardner is exactly the kind of candidate that the Republicans needed to get into the race against Udall, a Democrat from Eldorado Springs near Boulder.
“He offers something different to Sen. Udall,” Wadhams said. “Sen. Udall has served our state well in many respects, but he also is kind of a tired incumbent. Cory is going to be a great contrast to him in this election.”
Chris Harris, Udall’s communications director, said Udall is looking forward to debating the issues.
“From flood and wildfire recovery efforts, to ensuring that every family has the opportunity to get ahead, to standing up to the NSA and protecting Coloradans’ freedom to be left alone, Mark spends every day working to protect Colorado’s special way of life,” Harris said. “Mark looks forward to debating the important issues that impact our future.”
Owen Loftus, Colorado Republican Committee communications director, said the party welcomes Gardner into the field of candidates.
“We welcome Congressman Gardner into the race and we look forward to a spirited campaign coming out united to defeat Mark Udall in November,” Loftus said. “I think Udall has always been in trouble, and this race is going to be about the Republican nominee being able to show that they stand for Colorado values and the people of Colorado.”
He added, “A prime example is Obamacare. All of our candidates are against it, and yet Mark Udall is firmly in support of Obamacare whether that meant taking health care away from working families or cutting Medicare.”
Amy Runyon-Harms, executive director for ProgressNow Colorado in Denver, discredited Gardner’s record in Congress.
“Cory Gardner fancies himself as the leader of the Colorado Republican congressional delegation, but his record in Congress is a disgrace,” said Runyon-Harms in a news release. “Gardner’s double-dealing on disaster relief and support for radical assaults on women’s health show he is hopelessly out of touch with the people of Colorado.”
She added, “Gardner may be the best Republicans can muster in 2014, but that says more about their failures than anything else. Republicans have realized they can’t beat Mark Udall with any of the far-right candidates now running for the Senate nomination, but Cory Gardner can’t save them either. Since taking office in the 2010 ‘tea party’ wave, Gardner has shown himself to be opposed to the interests of women and an embarrassment to the entire state.”