Pikes Peak region voters must defend their self-interests in November’s election. That means turning out in unprecedented numbers to re-elect Sen. Cory Gardner.

The future of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region rests heavily on the Senate race. The election of former Gov. John Hickenlooper could jeopardize the region’s otherwise likely prospect of keeping the headquarters of Space Command.

Without the work of Gardner, Colorado Springs would not be the most likely winner in a nationwide competition among cities to host Space Command. Along with U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, Gardner cultivated constructive relationships with U.S. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett and other key officials in the Department of Defense who are likely to see Colorado Springs as the most logical place for Space Command. More recently, Garnder co-founded the Space Force Caucus to fight for military space operations.

Perhaps most importantly, Gardner made sure President Donald Trump understood the case for keeping Space Command in Colorado Springs. During a visit to the city in February, Trump acknowledged Gardner’s strong advocacy and promised a Space Command announcement in the fall.

A Hickenlooper victory likely gives full Democratic control to all of Colorado’s statewide offices. All balance will be gone, and it won’t bode well for us among pro-defense Pentagon officials or the president. Win or lose Nov. 3, Trump will decide the location of Space Command before leaving office.

To understand how Hickenlooper looks to military brass and the president, consider he supported the dangerous Iran nuclear deal and most other weak-on-defense policies of former President Barack Obama

Hickenlooper opposed taking out Iranian child killer Qasem Soleimani, who was responsible for murdering hundreds of American and coalition service members and ranked among the world’s most dangerous terrorists. The drone strike that killed Soleimani came after the Department of Defense warned of Soleimani's plan to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.

“It seems more dangerous for us, for our troops, and for our allies than it was last week,” Hickenlooper said publicly after our country took out Soleimani.

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet also supported the foolish Iran nuclear deal and opposed the strike against Soleimani.

“It is naïve to believe that this move would somehow motivate Iran to return to the negotiating table or deescalate tensions,” Bennet said as part of a formal statement following the strike.

Two weeks later, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said his country was willing to talk with the United States. It’s called peace through strength, which is the purpose of building up Space Command. Gardner gets it; Hickenlooper and Bennet do not.

Following a Hickenlooper victory, Colorado would expect the president and Pentagon brass to keep Space Command in a state with two senators soft on national defense. We would ask them to trust an all-Democratic state with a freshman senator turning 69 within a month of taking office.

“Those who start their first terms when they're already senior citizens will eventually wind up being little more than reliable party votes rather than active legislators,” explains a June 23 op/ed in the Chicago Tribune.

At age 46, Garner is the third youngest member of the Senate and an “active" and energetic legislator by any measure. He sponsored more bills signed into law than all other members of the Colorado delegation combined in the past six years.

Gardner has delivered for Colorado like few other Washington politicians in the history of Colorado statehood, passing the Great American Outdoors Act, helping achieve pay raises for military personnel, completing the Arkansas Valley Conduit, moving the Bureau of Land Management from the Washington swamp to Colorado, and more.

Gardner has respect and seniority and the potential to build on it for decades into the future. Hickenlooper, at best, would achieve respect and seniority as he approaches his 80s during a freshman term.

Colorado could make no more costly mistake than replacing Gardner in the Senate. Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region would bear the brunt of those costs, though the potential loss of military assets would hurt the whole state.

El Paso County voters can make the difference, by showing up in droves to keep Gardner in the Senate.

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