Cory Gardner

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Cory Gardner
Cory Gardner, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
United States Senator
from Colorado
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Serving with Michael Bennet
Preceded by Mark Udall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 4th district
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2015
Preceded by Betsy Markey
Succeeded by Ken Buck
Member of the Colorado House of Representatives
from the 63rd district
In office
June 23, 2005 – January 2, 2011
Preceded by Greg Brophy
Succeeded by Jon Becker
Personal details
Born Cory Scott Gardner
(1974-08-22) August 22, 1974 (age 43)
Yuma, Colorado, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jaime Gardner
Children 3
Education Colorado State University, Fort Collins (BA)
University of Colorado, Boulder (JD)
Website Senate website

Cory Scott Gardner[1] (born August 22, 1974) is an American mainstream conservative 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,[2] and defeated Democratic incumbent Mark Udall in the November 2014 race.[3]

Gardner is a noted opponent of President Trump, and of other politicians he considers too right-wing.[4] He wants to give American citizenship to many but not all illegal immigrants currently residing in the USA, and has worked with Democratic politicians to craft such legislation, starting with a proposal to transform a suspended immigration enforcement program into a more permanent DREAM Act.

He has been condemned by right-wing opponents as a major so-called cuckservative figure, and as a Republican in name only, but has earned a degree of admiration from Democratic and other progressive political commenters.[5]

Early life, education, and early political career

Gardner was born on August 22, 1974 in Yuma, Colorado,[6] the son of Cindy L. (née Pagel) and John W. Gardner. He is of Irish, German, Austrian, and English descent.[7] He graduated summa cum laude from Colorado State University with a B.A. in political science in 1997.[8]

In college, Gardner switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party[9] and interned at the Colorado State Capitol.[10] He went to law school at the University of Colorado to earn his Juris Doctor in 2001.[8] Gardner served as General Counsel and Legislative Director for former U.S. Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado from 2002-05.[8][11]

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.[11]


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[clarification needed] for future budget emergencies.[12] 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.[13][14]

In June 2006, he called on Republican Governor Bill Owens to call a special session addressing the issue of illegal immigration.[15]

In 2006, Gardner opposed legislation to allow pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception,[16] and offered an amendment to the budget to prohibit the state Medicaid plan from purchasing Plan B emergency contraception.[17]

In 2007, Gardner voted against a bill requiring hospitals to inform survivors of a sexual assault of the availability of emergency contraception.[18][19]

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.[20]

Committee assignments

  • House Education Committee[21][22]
  • House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
  • Legislative Council[23]

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.[24]

Gardner was named one of the GOP Young Guns. He was endorsed by former U.S. Congressman Tom Tancredo.[25] 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.[26]


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.[27] The House passed Gardner's bill by a vote of 253 to 166 on June 22, 2011.[28]

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.[29] The bill would change the frequency of reports from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about solid waste regulations.[30] Rather than automatically reviewing the regulations every three years, the EPA would be able to review them on an as needed basis.[31] It would also grant precedence to state requirements for solid waste disposal when creating new federal requirements.[30]

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.[32]

Gardner has stated that he believes climate change is occurring, but he is unsure whether humans are causing it.[33][34][35][36] Gardner supports construction of the Keystone Pipeline. He is pro-fracking.[37]

Economic issues

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.[38][39]

Gardner voted for the Ryan budget plan.[40][41]

Gardner is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[42] He strongly supports legislation which would require that the US Federal Reserve be audited.[43]

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.[44]

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.[45] Gardner has stated that he supports immigration reform in the form of a guest worker program and increased border security.[46]

Health care

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.”[47]

At the end of 2013, Gardner announced that he would introduce a bill to prohibit executives of state healthcare exchanges from getting bonuses.[48]

Social issues

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.[49]

In 2012-13, Gardner co-sponsored personhood legislation titled the "Life Begins at Conception Act".[50] Gardner later said that he changed his mind on personhood, after listening to voters.[51] 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.”[52] The nonpartisan 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.”[53]

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.[54]

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."[55]

Immigration and refugees

Gardner defended the rights of Muslims to immigrate to the USA and practice their faith, and to bring in additional family members. He believes immigration policy should be color-blind, and that Muslims can be loyal Americans, like members of all other ethnic groups.[56] He strongly disagreed with President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to impose a ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.[57][58] Inspired by his faith, Gardner disagrees with theories of human biodiversity, and believes that people of all races have the same inherent capabilities, but these require a proper education and social environment to unlock. He strongly condemns and opposes perceived racists, and anyone who believes the USA should strive to remain a white majority country.[59]

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate

Committee assignments



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.[3][60]

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."[61] Former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway endorsed Gardner.[62]

No Labels performed independent get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of its Problem Solvers, including Gardner.[63]

Electoral history

Colorado District 63 election, 2006[64]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Cory Gardner 15,736 73%
Democratic Pauline Artery 5,732 27%
Colorado District 63 election, 2008[65]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Cory Gardner*
Colorado's 4th Congressional District election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Cory Gardner 138,634 52%
Democratic Betsy Markey* 109,249 41%
Constitution Doug Aden 12,312 5%
Independent Ken "Wasko" Waskiewicz 3,986 2%
Colorado's 4th Congressional District election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Cory Gardner* 200,006 58%
Democratic Brandon Shaffer 125,800 37%
Libertarian Josh Gilliland 10,682 3%
Constitution Doug Aden 5,848 2%
U.S. Senate election in Colorado, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Cory Gardner 983,891 48%
Democratic Mark Udall* 944,203 46%
Libertarian Gaylon Kent 52,876 3%
Independent Steve Shogan 29,472 1%
Independent Raul Acosta 24,151 1%
Unity Bill Hammons 6,427 0%
Independent (Write-in) Willoughby 21 0%
Republican (Write-in) Kathleen Cunningham 17 0%


  1. "Representative Cory Scott Gardner (Cory) (R-Colorado, 4th)". LegiStorm. Retrieved June 14, 2011. 
  2. "Gardner gets clear primary path in Colorado". March 18, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "REPUBLICANS UP 5 SEATS IN RACE TO CONTROL SENATE". Retrieved December 17, 2016. 
  4. Corey Hutchins (Feb 17, 2017)
  5. Washington Times (Nov 12, 2017)
  6. "Cory Gardner's Political Summary". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  7. "Cory Gardner ancestry". Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Colorado Senate: Cory Gardner (R), National Journal; accessed January 30, 2017.
  9. Murray, Sara (October 17, 2014). "GOP Senate Candidate Puts Colorado Democrats Off Balance". Wall Street Journal. New York. Retrieved October 18, 2014. He entered Colorado State University as a Democrat and switched to the Republican Party in college. 
  10. Kosena, Jason (2009-05-15). "Cory Gardner joins Tom Lucero in GOP bid against Betsy Markey". Colorado Statesman. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Cory Gardner (R)". Election 2012. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  12. Couch, Mark P. (January 26, 2006). "Rainy day funding bills see daylight". Denver Post. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  13. "Clean Energy Development Authority". United States Department of Energy. Retrieved April 15, 2014. 
  14. "Biography | Congressman Cory Gardner". Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  15. Mangalonzo, John (June 13, 2006). "Court ruling riles solons". Journal-Advocate. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  16. Marcotte, Amanda. "Why Is This Anti-Contraception Republican in Favor of Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pills?". Slate. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  17. Couch, Mark P. (March 31, 2006). "LEGISLATURE 2006 House gives OK to budget". The Denver Post. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  18. "Gardner, under fire on personhood, suggests making birth control available over the counter". Fox 31 Denver. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  19. "Senate Bill 07-690" (PDF). Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  20. "United States > Colorado > CO State House > Minority Whip". Retrieved June 14, 2011. 
  21. Associated, The. "GOP calls for House education chairman to step down over e-mail". Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  22. " – newspaper archive, clipping service – newspapers and other news sources". 2007-01-23. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  23. "Cory Gardner profile". Ballotpedia. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  24. Sandoval, Michael (September 2, 2010). "Gardner Leads Markey 50-39 in First Public CO-4 Poll". National Review. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  25. "Tom Tancredo Standing By Endorsement Of Cory Gardner Over ACP Candidate In CD-4". Huffington Post Denver. October 29, 2010. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  26. "OFFICIAL RESULTS". Colorado Election Results. Colorado Secretary of State. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  27. "House passes Gardner bill on offshore drilling". Denver Business Journal. June 23, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2012. 
  28. "Rep. Gardner's Jobs and Permitting Act Passes House". June 22, 2011. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  29. "H.R. 2279 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  30. 30.0 30.1 Hattem, Julian (June 6, 2013). "Bills boosting states' environmental oversight pass first hurdle". The Hill. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  31. Kasperowicz, Pete (December 31, 2013). "House to start 2014 with bill curbing EPA". The Hill. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  32. "H.R. 6 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  33. "GOP civil war: A coup in Colorado". Politico. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  34. Scott, Dylan. "GOP Climate Change Skeptic Touts Wind Farm Support In Colorado". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  35. Carroll, Rick. "Senate candidate Cory Gardner stumps in Aspen". The Aspen Times. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  36. Broder, John M. (March 9, 2011). "At House E.P.A. Hearing, Both Sides Claim Science". The New York Times. p. 17. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  37. Restuccia, Andrew. "Keystone and the Udall-Gardner race". Politico. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  38. Sherry, Allison. "Beltway Breakfast – Gardner tackles duplication, so does Udall, Bennet talks Race to the Top, GOP applauds themselves for cutting another $4 billion". The Spot. The Denver Post. Retrieved January 10, 2012. 
  39. "Rep. Gardner Announces Resolution to Tackle Duplicative Programs and Govt. Waste". Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  40. "House Vote 277 – Passes Ryan Budget Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  41. Marcos, Cristina (2014-04-10). "Dems target House GOP Senate hopefuls after Ryan vote". The Hill. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  42. "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers 112th Congressional List" (PDF). Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  43. "Fed independence questioned as Republicans ramp up pressure". Reuters. July 10, 2014. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  44. "Gardner Bill Would Improve EITC Program". KRAI. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  45. Foley, Elise (August 1, 2014). "House Votes To Strip Deportation Relief From Dreamers". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  46. Siegler, Kirk. "Colo. Democrats Bet On Immigration To Boost Udall's Re-Election Bid". NPR. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  47. "Gardner, under fire on personhood, suggests making birth control available over the counter". Fox 31 Denver. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  48. Martin, Aaron. "Gardner bill would curb ACA compensation",; retrieved February 14, 2014.
  49. Bartels, Lynn. "Rep. Cory Gardner is praised by Planned Parenthood?". The Denver Post. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  50. "Cory Gardner changes stance on personhood". Associated Press. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  51. "Udall hits Gardner on personhood; Gardner, GOP hit back at 'divisive' attacks". Fox 31 Denver. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  52. Bartels, Lynn. "Cory Gardner changes position on personhood issue". The Denver Post. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  53. August 15, 2014. [1],; retrieved October 27, 2014.
  54. Gardner, Cory (2014-06-19). "Cory Gardner: Women should be able to buy the pill without a prescription". Denver Post. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  55. Stokols, Eli. Gardner: 'My views on marriage have long been clear’,; retrieved October 7, 2014.
  57. He said: "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."
  58. Blake, Aaron (January 31, 2017). "Whip Count: Here’s where Republicans stand on Trump’s controversial travel ban". Washington Post. 
  60. Lee, Kurtis (April 12, 2014). "Rep. Cory Gardner wins big at assembly, will challenge Sen. Mark Udall". Denver Post. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  61. "Cory Gardner for U.S. Senate". Denver Post. October 10, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  62. Richardson, Valerie (October 23, 2014). "NFL politics: Elway backs Gardner in Colorado as progressives target Denver Broncos fans". Washington Times. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  63. Rogers, Alex. "How Joe Manchin Ended Up Getting Out the Vote Against a Fellow Democrat". Time. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  64. "CO State House District 63 Race". Our Campaigns. November 7, 2006. Retrieved June 14, 2011. 
  65. "CO State House 063 Race". Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 14, 2011. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Betsy Markey
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Ken Buck
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bob Schaffer
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Colorado
(Class 2)

Most recent
Preceded by
Roger Wicker
Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
United States Senate
Preceded by
Mark Udall
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Colorado
Served alongside: Michael Bennet
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Bill Cassidy
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
James Lankford

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