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Q&A: Cory Gardner, candidate for U.S. Senate

The Longmont Leader reached out to candidates of the races listed in our voter’s guide with a list of questions. Each response will be published as it is received and may be edited for clarity and/or length.
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Cory Gardner (Courtesy photo)
The Longmont Leader reached out to candidates of the races listed in our voter’s guide with a list of questions. Each response will be published as it is received and may be edited for clarity and/or length. The Longmont Leader does not endorse any candidate and is providing as much information as we can to help voters make an informed decision in the 2020 election. If you have questions please contact info@longmontleader.com.

Candidate bio

I’m a Coloradan through and through and fight each and every day to make Colorado thrive, a state that my family has called home for five generations. My love for Colorado took me to Colorado State University where I graduated Summa Cum Laude and later to Boulder, where I earned my law degree at the University of Colorado. My wife Jaime and I live in Yuma, where we are raising a 6th generation of Coloradans: our children Alyson, Thatcher, and Caitlyn.

What qualities do you possess that qualify you for the job you are seeking?

As a fifth generation Coloradan, I’m a tireless advocate for the Centennial State. I’m ranked the 3rd most bipartisan Senator and have been named the most effective member of the Colorado delegation. Since 2015, I’ve had 11 bipartisan bills signed into law including legislation which secured funding for Aurora’s VA hospital and the most historic conservation bill to become law in 50 years.

I work across party lines because the people of Colorado demand independent and focused leadership. I’ll continue to work tirelessly for all four corners of the Centennial State, regardless of zip code.

If you are elected, is there anything in particular that you hope to accomplish? And briefly, what is it and why is it important?

We’re experiencing an economic crisis as a result of the coronavirus. Keeping people safe and getting Americans back to work must be our number one priority. Prior to COVID-19, Colorado’s economy saw record job growth, wage increases, its lowest unemployment rate in history, and an outdoor recreation economy that employed 229,000 workers and added $11 billion to the economy annually. Working together, we can return to that economic climate and ensure that every Coloradan is safe and healthy.

What are your plans to ensure that all of your constituents would have access to the same resources and opportunities, regardless of race or socioeconomic status? In your view, where does the system fall short?

For too long, new investments have been focused in our urban and densely populated areas, leaving rural and lower income communities behind. As the only statewide elected official living more than 30 miles outside of Denver, I know the challenges first hand with seeing Denver’s economy grow while adjacent communities suffer.

In 2017, we created federal incentives for businesses to invest, expand, and relocate high paying jobs to these underserved communities, called Opportunity Zones. Since, we have seen poverty shrink, wages rise, and average household income increase to unprecedented levels.

I have also worked to focus federal resources into expanding broadband access across all four corners of Colorado and bolster minority participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, as they are the center of our state’s innovation sector.

What are you doing to disrupt the status quo of politics? If you had the power, what one change would you make right now?

For decades, the status-quo of politics has been partisanship and grid-lock. But the people of Colorado didn’t elect me for that reason; they elected me because I’m a fighter. Since day one, I have worked across the aisle to not only be bipartisan, but effective. Whether it was working with Governor Polis to ensure masks, tests, and federal resources were available to combat the coronavirus or bringing Republicans and Democrats in Washington together to pass my Great Americans Outdoors Act and ensure our public lands and National Parks are protected for generations to come, I have proven that this is not the way things need to be. We need more Colorado in Washington and less Washington in Colorado.

Are you satisfied with the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If yes, why? If not, what do you think should be done instead? 

Every day we work to respond to the coronavirus has to be better than the last. I’m proud that we expanded unemployment insurance, provided billions to support small businesses and their employees, and delivered critical resources to support community services and the frontline workers keeping us safe. But more must be done. I believe that the federal government should pass additional measures to support those still unemployed, as well as our small businesses that are fighting to make ends meet in this economic climate. I’ll continue to work to ensure we are keeping Coloradans safe and our economy can snap back to its full strength.

The Trump administration has rolled back or is rolling back a number of environmental regulations, causing concern among many activists that fear will only escalate issues associated with climate change. What do you think the federal government should be doing to address climate change?

During my time in the Senate, I’ve passed meaningful legislation that bolsters publicly funded research into energy efficiency and cutting edge technologies to drive our clean energy economy forward. My Great American Outdoors Act was heralded by a senior director at the National Resources Defense Council for delivering “natural climate solutions.”

I’m also proud to have increased the budget for the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) by nearly 50 percent, allowing the Golden-based laboratory to continue studying climate change. Additionally, I helped increase funding for the Department of Energy’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, Office of Science, and ARPA-E in the face of proposed budget cuts. Moving forward, I will continue to support climate change research and oppose efforts to strip funding for research into emissions reductions and renewable energy.

Would your focus be improving the Affordable Care Act or replacing it with a single-payer system?

Both Democrats and Republicans want to replace the Affordable Care Act. While my opponent wants to replace it with a socialized healthcare system that will kill millions of jobs, cost thirty trillion dollars, and rip private insurance away from hundreds of millions of Americans, I believe we can find bipartisan solutions that protect people with preexisting conditions, allow people to buy health insurance across state lines, build on the successful innovations such as telemedicine, and lower the cost of prescription drugs. I’ll continue working across the aisle to establish a free-market system that works for the American people and protects those with pre-existing conditions.

Do you think undocumented immigration is a major problem in the United States that could be resolved in the next four years? What is your plan?

Our immigration system is broken. I’ve worked with Senator Michael Bennet on bipartisan legislation aimed at solving this problem. As a cosponsor of the DREAM Act and an outspoken advocate for reforms to our guest-worker programs, I am confident that the United States can provide solutions for children who were brought here at a young age through no fault of their own, as well as the agricultural producers that depend heavily on seasonal workers. I’ve worked to chart out a bipartisan immigration solution to obtaining legal status for Dreamers and improve border security. I’ll continue to support Colorado’s immigrant communities by creating a workable guest worker program that accounts for labor shortages in places like Colorado where unemployment numbers are already so low, and ensuring that our federal agencies are working efficiently to process immigrant and non-immigrant visas alike.

What do you think is the most pressing matter that pertains to the next generation of Coloradans who may be voting for the first time?

As our country reels back from the disastrous economic effects of COVID-19 in the coming months and years, it’s going to be critical that the next generation of Coloradans has the opportunity to succeed. It will be extremely difficult for our country to get back to where it was prior to the pandemic if young Americans don’t have educational opportunities and good jobs. During my time in the United States Senate, I’ve fought to make sure that students aren’t saddled with and inundated by student loan debt. As long as I remain in the Senate, and for the sake of the next generation of Coloradans, I will continue to make economic recovery my highest priority.

Who is your hero, and why?

Former Colorado Governor Ralph Carr is among my greatest heroes. Governor Carr spoke out against Japanese internment camps during WWII and lost his political career as a result. I admire his dedication to the pursuit of liberty and justice for all U.S. citizens. Governor Carr’s example taught future generations - myself included - that they cannot ignore what is wrong in the present. His legacy of standing up to injustice is inspiring to me and I strive everyday to emulate him.