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Cory Scott Gardner[1] (born August 22, 1974) is an American attorney and politician serving as the junior United States Senator for Colorado since 2015. A Republican, he was the U.S. Representative for Colorado's 4th congressional district from 2011 to 2015 and a member of the Colorado House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011.

Cory Gardner
Cory Gardner official Senate portrait.jpeg
United States Senator
from Colorado
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Serving with Michael Bennet
Preceded byMark Udall
Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
In office
January 3, 2017 – January 3, 2019
LeaderMitch McConnell
Preceded byRoger Wicker
Succeeded byTodd Young
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 4th district
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2015
Preceded byBetsy Markey
Succeeded byKen Buck
Member of the Colorado House of Representatives
from the 63rd district
In office
June 23, 2005 – January 2, 2011
Preceded byGreg Brophy
Succeeded byJon Becker
Personal details
Cory Scott Gardner

(1974-08-22) August 22, 1974 (age 45)
Yuma, Colorado, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Jaime Gardner
EducationColorado State University (BA)
University of Colorado Boulder (JD)
WebsiteSenate website

Gardner narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Mark Udall in the 2014 Senate race.[2] Gardner was chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2017 to 2019. As a result of the 2018 midterm elections, he became the only Republican holding statewide elected office in Colorado, and is considered one of the most vulnerable senators running for reelection in 2020.[3]

Early life, education, and early political careerEdit

Gardner was born on August 22, 1974 in Yuma, Colorado,[4] the son of Cindy L. (née Pagel) and John W. Gardner. He is of Irish, German, Austrian, and English descent.[5] He graduated summa cum laude from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1997.[6]

In college, Gardner switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party[7] and interned at the Colorado State Capitol.[8] He went to law school at the University of Colorado to earn his Juris Doctor in 2001.[6] Gardner served as General Counsel and Legislative Director for former U.S. Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado from 2002-05.[6][9]

Colorado House of RepresentativesEdit


Gardner was appointed to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2005 and elected to a full term in 2006. He represented District 63 in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2005 through 2011.[9]


Gardner proposed legislation in 2006 that would set aside money in a rainy-day fund that would help protect the state from future economic downturns. His proposal relied on Referendum C money[clarification needed] for future budget emergencies.[10] He staunchly opposed any tax increases. He helped create the Colorado Clean Energy Development Authority, which issued bonds to finance projects that involve the production, transportation and storage of clean energy until it was repealed in 2012.[11][12]

Committee assignments

  • House Education Committee[13][14]
  • House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
  • Legislative Council[15]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

Gardner's 112th Congressional session official photo



Gardner won the Republican primary in the 4th Congressional District to challenge Democratic incumbent Betsy Markey. Also running were American Constitution Party nominee Doug Aden and Independent Ken "Wasko" Waszkiewicz. In an early September poll, Gardner was up 50% to 39% over Markey.[16]

Gardner was named one of the GOP Young Guns. He was endorsed by former U.S. Congressman Tom Tancredo.[17] On November 2, 2010, Gardner defeated Markey, 52%–41%.


Gardner ran unopposed in the Republican primary before going on to defeat Democratic nominee Brandon Shaffer 59%–37% in the general election.[18] He was helped by the 2010 redistricting, which cut Fort Collins and Larimer County out of the district. Fort Collins had long been the 4th's largest city. For years, Larimer and the district's second-largest county, Weld County, home to Greeley, accounted for 85 percent of the district's population even though they only took up 15 percent of its land.

Committee assignments

U.S. SenateEdit

Committee assignments

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Senators Joni Ernst, Daniel Sullivan, John McCain, Tom Cotton, Lindsey Graham, and Cory Gardner attending the 2016 International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit in Singapore

Caucus memberships



Gardner was the Republican nominee for Senate, and narrowly defeated incumbent Senator Mark Udall in the general election, 48% to 46%, receiving 965,974 votes to Udall's 916,245.[2][20]No Labels performed independent get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of its Problem Solvers, including Gardner.[21]

Political positionsEdit

Ideology and views on Trump administrationEdit

According to Politico, "Gardner is reliably conservative on most issues other than immigration."[22] His positions mostly align with those of President Donald Trump, whom he endorsed for reelection in 2020, but according to The Washington Post, Gardner is "becoming known as someone who will do more than posture when he and the Trump administration disagree." Gardner has differed publicly with Trump on a number of issues. He criticized Trump's response to the 2017 Unite the Right rally, writing, "Mr. President—we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism." He opposed Roy Moore's Senate candidacy in Alabama in 2017, and in January 2018 criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for announcing a crackdown on marijuana dispensaries around the country, which he claimed was contrary to what Sessions had told him during his confirmation hearings. In response, he placed a hold on Trump's judicial nominees.[22][23] He has also opposed Trump on immigration, trade, and foreign policy.[22][24]

In April 2018 the Lugar Center and Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy ranked Gardner the 8th most bipartisan Senator in the first session of the 115th United States Congress.[25] GovTrack noted that of the 157 bills Gardner cosponsored in 2017, 41% were introduced by legislators who were not Republican.[26] Gardner was ranked the 5th most bipartisan senator in 2019.[27]


In 2006 Gardner opposed legislation to allow pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception,[28] and offered an amendment to the budget to prohibit the state Medicaid plan from purchasing Plan B emergency contraception.[29] In 2007 he voted against a bill requiring hospitals to inform survivors of a sexual assault of the availability of emergency contraception.[30][31]

In 2012-13 Gardner co-sponsored personhood legislation titled the "Life Begins at Conception Act".[32] Gardner later said that he changed his mind on personhood after listening to voters.[33] According to The Denver Post, "Gardner conceded that with his new position on personhood, he might be accused of flip-flopping simply to make himself more palatable to statewide voters."[34] The nonpartisan said "It would be clearer to say that Gardner supports efforts to ban abortion that could also ban some forms of birth control. As for his change of position, voters in Colorado should know Gardner still supports a federal bill that would prompt the same concerns over birth control as the state measure he says he rejects on the same grounds."[35]

In June 2014 Gardner called for over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives and said the birth control pill would be safer and cheaper if it was available over the counter.[36] He ran for Senate in 2014 as a pro-life Republican.[37] He has consistently voted to defund Planned Parenthood and in January 2018 voted in favor of a 20-week abortion ban.[38]


Gardner signed the Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[39] He supports legislation to require that the US Federal Reserve be audited.[40]

In March 2011 Gardner introduced bipartisan legislation to require congressional committees to hold hearings on programs that are deemed duplicative by a U.S. Government Accountability Office report. Gardner has said he believes such a measure would reduce waste in government.[41][42]

Gardner voted for the Ryan budget plan.[43][44]

In July 2014 Gardner introduced legislation to reform the Earned Income Tax Credit program. The legislation seeks to reduce fraud in the program and dedicate the savings to increasing the credit for working families.[45]


In February 2019 Gardner was one of 20 senators to sponsor the Employer Participation in Repayment Act, enabling employers to contribute up to $5,250 to the student loans of their employees.[46]

Energy and environmentEdit

In 2014 Gardner said he believes climate change is occurring and that "there is no doubt that pollution is contributing" to it.[47][48][49] He supports construction of the Keystone Pipeline and is pro-fracking.[50]

Shortly after taking office in the House of Representatives, Gardner introduced legislation that would speed up clean-air permits for companies engaged in offshore drilling in Alaska, which he says would create jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil.[51] The House passed Gardner's bill by a vote of 253 to 166 on June 22, 2011.[52]

In June 2013 Gardner introduced a bill to change the frequency of reports from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about solid waste regulations.[53] Rather than automatically reviewing the regulations every three years, the EPA would be able to review them on an as needed basis.[54] It would also grant precedence to state requirements for solid waste disposal when creating new federal requirements.[53]

In December 2018 Gardner and Senator Michael Bennet introduced several bills to improve security of the country's electric grids. The bills would create a $90 million fund to be distributed to states to develop energy security plans. The legislation would also require the U.S. Energy Department to identify any vulnerabilities to cyberattacks in the nation's electrical power grid.[55]

In March 2019 Gardner was an original cosponsor of a bipartisan bill intended to mandate that the Environmental Protection Agency declare per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances hazardous substances that can be addressed with cleanup funds via the EPA Superfund law and require that polluters undertake or pay for remediation within a year of the bill's enaction.[56]

In April 2019 Gardner was one of 12 senators to sign a bipartisan letter to top senators on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development advocating that the Energy Department be granted maximum funding for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), arguing that American job growth could be stimulated by investment in capturing carbon emissions and expressing disagreement with President Trump's 2020 budget request to combine the two federal programs that do carbon capture research.[57]

In September 2019 Gardner was one of eight senators to sign a bipartisan letter to congressional leadership requesting full and lasting funding of the Land and Water Conservation Act to aid national parks and public lands, benefit the $887 billion American outdoor recreation economy, and "ensure much-needed investment in our public lands and continuity for the state, tribal, and non-federal partners who depend on them."[58]

Foreign policyEdit

In September 2016 Gardner was one of 34 senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of State John Kerry advocating that the United States clearly enforce "a legally binding Security Council Resolution" by using "all available tools to dissuade Russia from continuing its airstrikes in Syria that are clearly not in our interest".[59]

In September 2017, Gardner co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.270), which made it a federal crime, punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment,[60] for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if protesting actions by the Israeli government.[61]

In April 2018 Gardner was one of eight Republican senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and acting Secretary of State John Sullivan expressing "deep concern" over a United Nations report that exposed "North Korean sanctions evasion involving Russia and China", asserting that the findings "demonstrate an elaborate and alarming military-venture between rogue, tyrannical states to avoid United States and international sanctions and inflict terror and death upon thousands of innocent people", and calling it "imperative that the United States provides a swift and appropriate response to the continued use of chemical weapons used by President Assad and his forces, and works to address the shortcomings in sanctions enforcement."[62]

In September 2018 Gardner was one of five senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to employ more multifactor authentication measures to secure the State Department's information systems and seeking answers on how the department would boost its security following the Office of Management and Budget's designation of the department's cyber-readiness as "high risk", what the department would do to address the lack of multifactor authentication required by law, and statistics on the department's cyber incidents over the last three years.[63]

In November 2018, Gardner joined Senator Marco Rubio and a bipartisan group of lawmakers in sending a letter to the Trump administration raising concerns about China's undue influence over media outlets and academic institutions in the United States. They wrote: "In American news outlets, Beijing has used financial ties to suppress negative information about the CCP. In the past four years, multiple media outlets with direct or indirect financial ties to China allegedly decided not to publish stories on wealth and corruption in the CCP...Beijing has also sought to use relationships with American academic institutions and student groups to shape public discourse."[64]

In December 2018 Gardner voted against ending U.S. military support to the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in the Yemen war.[65] He said that Saudi Arabia "is a country in a critical part of the region that has played a key role in our work protecting Israel."[66] In March 2019 Gardner voted against the resolution again, saying it would have empowered Iran.[67] In January 2019 Gardner joined Rubio, Jim Risch, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in introducing legislation to impose sanctions on the government of President of Syria Bashar al-Assad and bolster American cooperation with Israel and Jordan.[68]

In January 2019 Gardner was one of 11 Republican senators to vote to advance legislation intended to prevent President Trump from lifting sanctions against three Russian companies.[69]

In January 2019, following a report that Trump had expressed interest in withdrawing from NATO several times during the previous year, Gardner was one of eight senators to reintroduce legislation to prevent Trump from withdrawing the United States from NATO by imposing a requirement of a two-thirds approval from the Senate for a president to suspend, terminate or withdraw American involvement with it.[70]

Gardner has criticized Trump for perceived softness in dealing with North Korea. “The president has, I’m afraid, taken pressure off of North Korea. He believes it’s a way for him to negotiate with Kim Jong Un. I believe it’s a rope-a-dope."[22]


In 2014 the National Rifle Association (NRA) endorsed Gardner and gave him an A rating for being "the only candidate in this race who will support the rights of Colorado's law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen," according to the NRA-Political Victory Fund's Chris W. Cox.[71] As of 2017 Gardner has received $3,879,064 in donations from the NRA.[72]

In 2016 Gardner voted against the Feinstein Amendment, which sought to ban gun sales to anyone who had been placed on the terrorist watch list for the last five years. He also opposed an amendment making it necessary for background checks to take place for guns bought at gun shows and online.[73]

In response to the 2017 Las Vegas Strip shooting, Gardner said, "Devastating news. Our hearts go out to all of the victims and their families in Las Vegas" and "This is a tragedy, and if you're trying to politicize it, or if anyone is trying to politicize it, then shame on them."[74][75]

Health careEdit

Gardner opposes the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and has voted to repeal it.[22]

Gardner was part of the group of 13 Republican senators drafting the Senate version of the American Health Care Act, which would have repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).[76] He voted in favor of all variations of AHCA that came up for a vote in the Senate.[77] The New York Times reported that in September 2017, when the GOP made another attempt to pass legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Gardner warned Republican legislators at a closed luncheon that failure to pass any repeal legislation would lead to a backlash by big donors to Republicans, as well as the grassroots.[78]

In January 2019 Gardner was one of six senators to cosponsor the Health Insurance Tax Relief Act, delaying the Health Insurance Tax for two years.[79]

In 2011 Gardner voted for the "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act", which states that "nothing in the Affordable Care Act shall be construed to authorize a health plan to require a provider to provide, participate in, or refer for a specific item or service contrary to the provider's religious beliefs or moral convictions."[80]

In 2013 Gardner announced that he would introduce a bill to prohibit executives of state healthcare exchanges from getting bonuses.[81]


In August 2014 Gardner broke ranks with the Republican Party and voted against a bill that would have dismantled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.[82] He has said that he supports immigration reform in the form of a guest worker program and increased border security.[83]

Gardner criticized Trump's 2017 executive order to impose a ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, saying: "While I am supportive of strengthening our screening processes and securing our borders, a blanket travel ban goes too far. I also believe that lawful residents of the United States should be permitted to enter the country. I urge the Administration to take the appropriate steps to fix this overly broad executive order."[84]

In June 2018 Gardner was one of 13 Republican senators to sign a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting a moratorium on the Trump administration family separation policy while Congress drafted legislation.[85]

In March 2019 Gardner voted for Trump's national emergency declaration on the creation of a southern border wall (which allows Trump to take funding from other government functions in order to spend them on a border wall). Majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate (where 12 Republican Senators joined with Democrats) voted to overturn Trump's national emergency declaration.[86][87] The Denver Post rescinded its 2014 endorsement of Gardner, citing his vote on Trump's national emergency declaration.[88][89]

Net neutralityEdit

Gardner is an opponent of the Obama-era FCC policies on net neutrality, calling the regulations "brazen abuse of power and overreach".[90] On May 16, 2018, he voted against The Congressional Review Act, a bill to reinstate net neutrality.[91][92]

Same-sex marriageEdit

In response to the October 2014 U.S. Supreme Court announcement allowing same-sex marriage to become law in 30 states including Colorado, Gardner reaffirmed his position that marriage should only be between a man and a woman but said, "This issue is in the hands of the courts and we must honor their legal decisions."[93]


In January 2018 Gardner spearheaded a letter to Trump signed by himself and 35 fellow Republican senators requesting he preserve the North American Free Trade Agreement by modernizing it for the economy of the 21st century and offering their assistance.[94]

Gardner supports free trade. In March 2018 he criticized Trump for imposing a 10% tariff on aluminum imports and a 25% tariff on steel imports, arguing that they would lead to a trade war that would threaten the American economy, particularly agriculture. "I am concerned that a tariff can result in a tax on the very same people that we are trying to help in this economy," he said.[95] In June 2019 Gardner again expressed concern over Trump's threats to impose tariffs on goods entering the United States from overseas. He argued that such tariffs would result in "a 1.1% tax increase for the lowest 20% of income earners; a 0.3% increase for those in the middle; and a zero net change for the upper middle class." Gardner said that by implementing harsh tariff policies America would be "turning [its] backs on American workers and consumers."[24]

Violence Against Women ActEdit

In 2012 Gardner was one of 33 Republicans to vote for the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA), which reauthorized the bill and expanded protections for Native Americans, immigrants, and gays.[96]

Electoral historyEdit

Colorado District 63 election, 2006[97]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Cory Gardner 15,736 73% -1%
Democratic Pauline Artery 5,732 27% +1%
Colorado District 63 election, 2008[98]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Cory Gardner (incumbent) 22,847 100% +27%
Colorado's 4th congressional district election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Cory Gardner 138,634 52.48
Democratic Betsy Markey (incumbent) 109,249 41.35
Constitution Doug Aden 12,312 4.66
Independent Ken Waskiewicz 3,986 1.51
Total votes 264,181 100.00
Republican gain from Democratic
Colorado's 4th congressional district, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Cory Gardner (incumbent) 200,006 58.4
Democratic Brandon Shaffer 125,800 36.8
Libertarian Josh Gilliland 10,682 3.1
Constitution Doug Aden 5,848 1.7
Total votes 342,336 100.0
Republican hold
United States Senate election in Colorado, 2014[99]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Cory Gardner 983,891 48.21% +5.72%
Democratic Mark Udall (incumbent) 944,203 46.26% -6.54%
Libertarian Gaylon Kent 52,876 2.59% N/A
Independent Steve Shogan 29,472 1.44% N/A
Independent Raúl Acosta 24,151 1.18% N/A
Unity Bill Hammons 6,427 0.32% N/A
Total votes 2,041,020 100.0%
Republican gain from Democratic


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External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Betsy Markey
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Ken Buck
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bob Schaffer
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Colorado
(Class 2)

Most recent
Preceded by
Roger Wicker
Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
Succeeded by
Todd Young
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Mark Udall
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Colorado
Served alongside: Michael Bennet
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Bill Cassidy
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
James Lankford