Cory Scott Gardner (born August 22, 1974) is an American politician who is the junior United States Senator from Colorado. He is a Republican and was previously the U.S. Representative for Colorado's 4th congressional district. Prior to that, he was a member of the Colorado House of Representatives.
Gardner announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in March 2014, quickly clearing the Republican primary field, and defeated Democratic incumbent Mark Udall in the November 2014 race.
Early life, education, and early political career
Gardner was born on August 22, 1974 in Yuma, Colorado, the son of Cindy L. (née Pagel) and John W. Gardner. He is of Irish, German, Austrian, and English descent. He graduated summa cum laude from Colorado State University with a B.A. in political science in 1997.
In college, Gardner switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party and interned at the Colorado State Capitol. He went to law school at the University of Colorado to earn his Juris Doctor in 2001. Gardner served as General Counsel and Legislative Director for former U.S. Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado from 2002-05.
Colorado House of Representatives
Gardner was appointed to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2005 and elected to a full term in 2006. He represented District 63 in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2005 through 2011.
Gardner proposed legislation in 2006 that would set aside money in a rainy-day fund that would help protect the state from future economic downturns. His proposal relied on Referendum C money for future budget emergencies. He staunchly opposed any tax increases. He helped create the Colorado Clean Energy Development Authority, which issued bonds to finance projects that involve the production, transportation and storage of clean energy until it was repealed in 2012.
In June 2006, he called on Republican Governor Bill Owens to call a special session addressing the issue of illegal immigration.
In 2006, Gardner opposed legislation to allow pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception, and offered an amendment to the budget to prohibit the state Medicaid plan from purchasing Plan B emergency contraception.
In 2007, Gardner voted against a bill requiring hospitals to inform survivors of a sexual assault of the availability of emergency contraception.
The Denver Post hailed Gardner as “the GOP Idea Man”. He was named one of the Top 40 young Republican lawmakers by the magazine Rising Tide. He became House Minority Whip in January 2007.
- House Education Committee
- House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
- Legislative Council
U.S. House of Representatives
Gardner won the Republican primary in the 4th Congressional District to challenge Democratic incumbent Betsy Markey. Also running were American Constitution Party nominee Doug Aden and Independent Ken "Wasko" Waszkiewicz. In an early September poll, Gardner was up 50% to 39% over Markey.
Gardner was named one of the GOP Young Guns. He was endorsed by former U.S. Congressman Tom Tancredo. On November 2, 2010, Gardner defeated Markey, 52%–41%.
Gardner ran unopposed in the Republican primary before going on to defeat Democratic nominee Brandon Shaffer 59%–37% in the general election.
Energy and environmental issues
Shortly after taking office, Gardner introduced legislation that would speed up clean-air permits for companies engaged in offshore drilling in Alaska, which he says would create jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil. The House passed Gardner's bill by a vote of 253 to 166 on June 22, 2011.
On June 6, 2013, Gardner introduced the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act of 2013 (H.R. 2279; 113th Congress), a bill that would amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 and the Solid Waste Disposal Act. The bill would change the frequency of reports from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about solid waste regulations. Rather than automatically reviewing the regulations every three years, the EPA would be able to review them on an as needed basis. It would also grant precedence to state requirements for solid waste disposal when creating new federal requirements.
On March 6, 2014, Gardner introduced the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act (H.R. 6; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the United States Department of Energy (DOE) to issue a decision on an application for authorization to export natural gas within 90 days after the later of: (1) the end of the comment period for that decision as set forth in the Federal Register, or (2) the date of enactment of this Act.
Gardner has stated that he believes climate change is occurring, but he is unsure whether humans are causing it. Gardner supports construction of the Keystone Pipeline. He is pro-fracking.
In March 2011, Gardner introduced bipartisan legislation that would require congressional committees to hold hearings on programs that are deemed duplicative by a U.S. Government Accountability Office report. Gardner has said he believes such a measure would reduce waste in government.
Gardner voted for the Ryan budget plan.
Gardner is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge. He strongly supports legislation which would require that the US Federal Reserve be audited.
On July 10, 2014, Gardner introduced legislation to reform the Earned Income Tax Credit program. The legislation seeks to reduce fraud in the program and dedicate the savings to increasing the credit for working families.
In August 2014, Gardner broke ranks with the Republican Party and voted against a bill that would have dismantled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Gardner has stated that he supports immigration reform in the form of a guest worker program and increased border security.
In 2011, he voted in support of the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act”, which states that “nothing in the Affordable Care Act shall be construed to authorize a health plan to require a provider to provide, participate in, or refer for a specific item or service contrary to the provider’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
At the end of 2013, Gardner announced that he would introduce a bill to prohibit executives of state healthcare exchanges from getting bonuses.
In 2012, Gardner was one of 33 Republicans to vote for the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA), which re-authorized the bill and expanded protections for Native Americans, immigrants, and gays.
In 2012-13, Gardner co-sponsored personhood legislation titled the "Life Begins at Conception Act". Gardner later said that he changed his mind on personhood, after listening to voters. According to The Denver Post, “Gardner conceded that with his new position on personhood, he might be accused of flip-flopping simply to make himself more palatable to statewide voters.” The nonpartisan Factcheck.org said “It would be clearer to say that Gardner supports efforts to ban abortion that could also ban some forms of birth control. As for his change of position, voters in Colorado should know Gardner still supports a federal bill that would prompt the same concerns over birth control as the state measure he says he rejects on the same grounds.”
In June 2014, Gardner called for over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives and said the birth control pill would be safer and cheaper if it was available over the counter.
In response to the October 2014 announcement from the U.S. Supreme Court allowing same-sex marriage to become the law in 30 states including Colorado, Gardner reaffirmed his position that marriage should only be between a man and a woman but stated, "This issue is in the hands of the courts and we must honor their legal decisions."
Immigration and refugees
Gardner critiqued President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to impose a ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, saying: "While I am supportive of strengthening our screening processes and securing our borders, a blanket travel ban goes too far. I also believe that lawful residents of the United States should be permitted to enter the country. I urge the Administration to take the appropriate steps to fix this overly broad executive order."
- Committee on Energy and Commerce
- Subcommittee on Energy and Power
- Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
- Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
- Republican Study Committee
- Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
- Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security
- Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet
- Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance
- Subcommittee on Science and Space
- Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
- Subcommittee on Energy
- Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining
- Subcommittee on Water and Power
- Committee on Foreign Relations
- Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues
- Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation
- Subcommittee on East Asia, The Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy (Chairman)
- Subcommittee on International Development, Multilateral Institutions and International Economic, Energy and Environmental Policy
- Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Gardner was the Republican nominee for Senate, and won against incumbent Senator Mark Udall in the general election. Gardner won by a 2% margin over Udall, with a 49% to 46% advantage. Gardner received 965,974 votes to Udall's 916,245 votes.
In October 2014, the Denver Post endorsed Gardner, writing that "he has emphasized economic and energy issues (and was, for example, an early supporter among Republicans of renewable energy). ... "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." Former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway endorsed Gardner.
No Labels performed independent get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of its Problem Solvers, including Gardner.
|Colorado's 4th Congressional District election, 2010|
|Independent||Ken "Wasko" Waskiewicz||3,986||2%|
|Colorado's 4th Congressional District election, 2012|
|U.S. Senate election in Colorado, 2014|
|Republican (Write-in)||Kathleen Cunningham||17||0%|