Who Is?
S4 E13

Who Is Cory Gardner? Narrated by Melissa Benoist

Cory Gardner is a senator from Colorado, a leading opponent of the Green New Deal, a staunch anti-choice politician, a major NRA beneficiary, and a former babysitter to a ram.

Gardner was born in 1974 in Yuma, Colorado, where his family owned a farm-machinery business. As a young Democrat, Gardner played football in high school before going on to Colorado State University, where he babysat a live ram. The university’s mascot, CAM the Ram, had to be cared for by several students—Gardner was one of the volunteers who stepped up. While many students were seemingly doing normal student things, Gardner was traveling across state lines with a ram. “We took CAM to a lot of different places, California, Tennessee; we even took him into restaurants,” he said.

In 2001, he received his law degree from the University of Colorado Boulder. After graduating, Gardner was a spokesperson for the National Corn Growers Association, which sounds absolutely thrilling.

In 2005, Gardner was appointed to the Colorado House of Representatives, before being elected the next year for a full term, during which he spent a lot of time attacking women’s rights. Gardner voted against a bill that would require hospitals to make emergency contraception available to rape victims. In ’07, Gardner sponsored a bill that would’ve banned all abortion in Colorado—even in cases of rape and incest. The bill also aimed to criminalize the doctors who perform abortions by making it a class 3 felony. According to Mark Silverstein, legal director of the ACLU of Colorado, under Gardner’s bill, a doctor could have faced more jail time than the woman’s rapist.

In 2010, Gardner was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives thanks in part to an endorsement from former U.S. Congressman Tom Tancredo, a guy who once called Miami a third world country because of its diversity. After Gardner’s election win, he continued to focus on the issue that seems to matter most to him as a male: women’s rights. In 2013, he voted against even considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was legislation introduced to help close the wage gap. The year before, women in Colorado made on average $11,000 less than men. Gardner — who is a male — doesn’t see an issue with that gap. He, instead, blamed the war on women on a guy who instituted a rule protecting Planned Parenthood.

In addition to voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, who faced credible allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, Gardner voted yes on Andrew Wheeler — Trump’s pick for head of the EPA. It’s unclear why Gardner, a guy who touted his environmental bona fides on his own website, voted to confirm a guy with a rich background in coal and whose first major rule ended up being one that allows power plants to offload toxic coal ash in ways that could pollute the water we drink.

Gardner has also become a leading voice against AOC’s Green New Deal. When he’s not standing up to radical environmentalists, Gardner is standing up to activists with disabilities for wanting those pesky rights. When Gardner was working on an effort to repeal Obamacare, protestors from the disability rights group ADAPT held a sit-in Gardner’s office, protesting a repeal that would disproportionately affect them. After sitting in for nearly 58 hours, they were physically removed and arrested by police.

Gardner is up for reelection in 2020, but he faces an uphill battle as Colorado is drifting away from the GOP. Roll Call notes that in 2018, “Democrats retained the state’s open governorship, took over the offices of attorney general, state treasurer and secretary of state, and gained a new congressional seat. The party also flipped the state Senate.” In order to stay afloat in 2020, Gardner will have to swim with his state’s current. One way might be to stop voting in line with the guy whose name will be right next to Gardner’s on the ballet. According to five thirty-eight, Gardner has voted in line with Trump 90% of the time over his career. Better start swimming.