The good news for Colorado's Cory Gardner, the Republican congressman running for the Senate, is that the broader political conversation has shifted slightly away from an uncomfortable subject. The bad news for Cory Gardner is that the conversation has shifted towards a different subject that's nearly as difficult for him.
Last week, the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling put contraception access on the nation's front burner, which did Gardner no favors. The far-right congressman repeatedly endorsed "Personhood" measures that would have banned some common forms of birth control, before flip-flopping, but not really
. After the court ruling, the Colorado Republican was left arguing in support of employers restricting contraception access and
arguing in support of greater contraception access.
But that was last week. This week, immigration has the spotlight, and Gardner's party is pushing for deportations for Dream Act kids, falsely blaming President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy for the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border.
As Greg Sargent explained
, this puts Gardner in a very awkward position once more.
In Colorado, the Latino vote can help decide statewide races, and Democrats there have been hitting Gardner for failing to say whether he supports citizenship for the 11 million here illegally. Gardner has responded by arguing that he supports legalization for those who serve in the military, which suggests he sees the issue as problematic for him. Dems have countered by noting that Gardner voted for a 2013 Steve King amendment that would have ended Obama's ability to deprioritize deportation of the DREAMers. Now the current crisis allows Dems to renew criticism of that vote -- and jam him on it further. When Gardner voted for the King amendment, he wasn't a statewide candidate, and the vote was largely a sop to the right. But now many Republicans are renewing the case for ending DACA as their preferred policy response to an active, ongoing crisis.
The congressman has struggled to break through in his Senate race, at least so far, largely because his record as a far-right culture warrior has alienated so many women voters. Can Gardner risk alienating Colorado Latinos, too?
The Colorado Independent added
[W]hen it comes to immigration, Gardner has a hard-right legislative history.... It's a position that so far seems fairly consistent for Gardner, as his current Congressional website touts border and benefit security at the top of his immigration reform to-do list. "The solution to the problem ... isn't giving amnesty to the 12-20 million illegal immigrants in this country, or giving those people benefits that will only encourage more illegal immigration," reads the section of Gardner's official website devoted to immigration.
When the DREAM Act came up, Gardner opposed it. When the Senate approved a popular, bipartisan immigration reform package, Gardner opposed that, too. When House Republican leaders released a list of immigration "principles" the chamber would consider as an alternative to the Senate bill, Gardner opposed that, too.
So what did congressman vote for? Steve King's deportation measure in 2013.
It's probably enough to make the Gardner campaign ask, "Can we go back to talking about contraception again?"