One day after presumptive Democratic senatorial nominee John Hickenlooper spent a debate explaining ethics convictions and a racist comment, Sen. Cory Gardner delivered again for Colorado and the rest of the country. His latest in a long succession of victories involved challenging President Donald Trump and changing his mind for the good of Colorado.
Senators do not get better than Gardner. The Senate passed his Great Outdoors Act on Wednesday, which was the 10th major piece of legislation passed into law at Gardner’s insistence and sponsorship. All other eight members of Colorado’s Washington delegation combined have not passed that many laws in the past six years.
Because of Gardner, Colorado is likely the long-term home of Space Command. Because of Gardner, Colorado received $450 million for infrastructure improvements including widening The Gap on I-25. Because of Gardner, the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management moved from the Washington swamp to the slopes of Grand Junction. The list could go on.
The Great Outdoors Act is so good for public lands that even Hickenlooper supports the accomplishment. Hickenlooper’s primary opponent, long-ago Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, supports Gardner’s accomplishment. So does Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.
As explained in Colorado Politics, one of the Gazette’s sister publications, Gardner’s bill fully funds the once-endangered Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million and takes on the roughly $20 billion maintenance backlog on federal public lands.
Trump wanted to empty the conservation fund until Gardner convinced him it was a bad idea. Through negotiations with the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell emerged the Great Outdoors Act.
The Great Outdoors Act is the largest conservation bill in history. Gardner believes he has enough bipartisan support to get it passed in the House, and Trump has agreed to sign it.
“I’ve been working on this for a very long time as the Land and Water Conservation Fund starting with Great Sand Dunes National Park back in 2002 and one of the first votes I took in the Senate in 2015 to the final passage today,” Gardner said.
As Gardner basks in an array of accomplishments nearly unmatched in Congress, Hickenlooper struggles to explain two recent ethics convictions. When he’s not doing that, he’s apologizing for a videotaped joke in which he compares himself to a slave at the mercy of a slave master for having to work with an event scheduler.
As Gardner conserves the environment, Hickenlooper explains how he mostly believes presidential candidate Joe Biden raped a woman. Despite believing the accuser, he supports Biden for president.
As Gardner wins one after another for Colorado, Hickenlooper dodges questions about his claim George Floyd — the man choked slowly to death by a Minneapolis cop — died in a shooting.
Gardner’s latest home run comes as Hickenlooper struggles to explain exhibiting so much disrespect for the legal process he was held in contempt by the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission. It comes as Hickenlooper explains taking millions of dollars in off-the-books donations from oil companies and other corporations while serving as governor. It comes as Hickenlooper explains saying he would “hate” working as a senator and is not cut out for the job.
Gardner has earned the kind of rare bipartisan respect in Congress that leads to results. He is a Washington A-lister without a history of ethics violations or cringe-worthy race remarks.
In November, Coloradans will decide whether to keep a ranking, winning senator or take a chance with someone else. Their alternative will be a man who has to explain holding no public office for the past 11 years. Or, they will have the choice of a man who spends his days and nights explaining and apologizing for disturbing actions and words.
In politics, when you’re explaining you’re losing. When you’re passing bills, such as Cory Gardner’s 10th in one term, you’re winning.