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Colorado's Gardner still struggling to move to the left

The GOP candidate has spent his career toeing the far-right line on environmental policy. Now he wants Coloradans to see him as a "green-energy" enthusiast?
Colorado Republican Congressman Cory Gardner in Denver on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Colorado Republican Congressman Cory Gardner in Denver on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Rep. Cory Gardner (R), still in the midst of a very competitive U.S. Senate race in Colorado, seems to believe the key to success is pretending he's a liberal.
For example, the far-right congressman, known for his social conservatism on culture-war issues, recently urged voters to overlook his support for "personhood" measures that would ban common forms of birth control, and instead see him as a progressive champion when it comes to contraception access.
Now, Gardner's suddenly an environmentalist, too.
In one of the GOP lawmaker's new television ads, Gardner stands in front of wind turbines and tells voters, "What is a Republican like me doing at a wind farm? Supporting the next generation, that's what." The congressman boasts that he helped "launch our state's green-energy industry," before the ad tells viewers that Gardner is a "new kind of Republican."
There are two main problems with the claim. First, Gardner didn't actually help launch Colorado's green-energy industry.

GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner, framed by sunflowers and wind turbines, tells voters in a campaign ad this week that he co-wrote a law to launch Colorado's green-energy economy. He leaves out that the law was repealed five years later, deemed useless for not enabling a single project. [...] The Clean Energy Development Authority, which was set up by the law, was intended to assist in the financing of clean-energy projects such as improvements to electricity transmission lines.

Second, the notion that Gardner is presenting himself as some kind of champion of progressive environmental policy is pretty silly -- the League of Conservative Voters publishes a scorecard documenting every member's votes on environmental legislation. Gardner's most recent rating: 4%. No one in the Colorado delegation did worse.
Obviously, this is not the record of a "new kind of Republican." But let's not brush past the fact that Gardner feels the need to pretend to be more progressive.
Doesn't this seem to come up quite often? Anti-contraception Republicans are running around pretending they love birth control.
Far-right GOP lawmakers who voted to kill the Violence Against Women Act are suddenly claiming they love VAWA.
Republican opponents of the minimum wage have discovered that maybe an increase wouldn't be so bad after all.
GOP lawmakers who couldn't wait to base their entire platforms on destroying the Affordable Care Act are suddenly pulling their anti-Obamacare attack ads.
Republicans who want to help dismantle Social Security and Medicare keep claiming they love the social-insurance programs.
And now Cory Gardner, who's spent his congressional career toeing the far-right line on environmental policy, wants Coloradans to see him as a "green-energy" enthusiast, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
I have a sneaky suspicion that if Republicans have a great midterm cycle, which seems possible if not likely, many Beltway pundits will assume it's because conservative ideas are in ascendance.  They'll be wrong -- GOP candidates in a wide variety of close contests are trying to get ahead by moving to the left, not the right.