22 October 2014: Mark Udall works tirelessly for Coloradan

Udall works tirelessly for Coloradans

The 2014 election is shaping up as a referendum on the Colorado electorate: Do we mean what we say when we claim we want pragmatic, principled, problem-solving leadership or are we just paying lip-service to that notion?

In last week’s column, I explored why John Hickenlooper offers that type of leadership as opposed to Bob Beauprez’s hardline, ideological approach.  In like manner, Sen. Mark Udall and Cory Gardner present voters that same clear-cut choice.

Over the years, when it comes to protecting our civil liberties, from Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches to a woman controlling her reproductive system, Mark has stood tall.  In addition, Mark has stood tall for Clear Creek with regard to our local issues.

Commissioner Tim Mauck calls Mark a “consistent champion for our rural mountain community.”

For evidence, Tim points to Mark’s record of securing funds for preserving the Beaver Brook Watershed, advocating for local solutions to I-70, reauthorizing funding that supports our schools and county roads, and helping our Clear Creek friends and neighbors access affordable health care.

That solution-based approach has been a hallmark of Mark’s public service.

When I asked Mark about the difference between him and Gardner, he said, “This election presents a clear contrast in Colorado and Clear Creek County.  I’m focused on working together in a pragmatic way to solve our toughest problems, whether that’s protecting our public lands, fixing our broken immigration system, or achieving a balanced approach to energy development.”

On the other hand, Cory Gardner has been ideologically hardcore.  Those that view him as a pragmatic conservative should not only review his record but also carefully consider what has happened in Jeffco where the conservative slate of candidates hid their real agenda during the election.  One could call it buyer’s remorse—caveat emptor—Jeffco citizens are feeling.  The unfortunate truth is, though, 80 percent didn’t buy (vote): they allowed it to happen by not voting.

In 2013, the National Journal ranked Gardner the tenth most conservative member of Congress, more conservative than Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn (31st), whom one independent active local describes as “an embarrassment to Colorado,” Michelle Bachman (80th), and anti-immigrant firebrand Steve King of Iowa (12th).

It’s as Mark conveyed to me: Gardner is “an ideological crusader who puts his extreme partisanship above the best interests of Coloradans.”

“He’s voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 50 times, he shut down the government last October for more than two weeks, just to prove a political point, and he sponsors a bill in Congress that defines life at conception and would therefore ban abortion and some forms of birth control,” Mark said.

The Denver Post’s endorsement of Gardner has elicited a flood of “Are you kidding me?” responses, including from me, in letters to the editor.

The Post’s “specious and delusional arguments,” I wrote, “rest on the presumption Gardner’s election would magically lift Congress out of its quagmire thereby fostering an Era of Good Feelings vis-à-vis President Obama.

“That’s wishful thinking at best.  Gardner was and remains part of the problem.  He’s a darling of the right and understandably so, being one of the top ten conservatives in House of Representatives.”

As I point out, there are three phases to a politician’s life: before, during, and after a campaign.  It’s perfectly acceptable for one to change his/her position in the first and third phases, but not in the second; then it smacks of duplicity and political opportunism.  That is, however, what Gardner has done with regard to personhood and the immigration issues.

On the personhood amendment, he’s now against it in Colorado so to defuse his anti-choice, anti-reproductive rights history, but remains steadfast for it in Washington to remain in good stead with his Tea Party cohorts and political funders.

That’s true as well on immigration.  Here he needs Latino votes.  In Washington, he needs the money and to maintain his cred with anti-immigrant, rightwing power brokers.

Mark Udall has been no Daniel Webster, to be sure, but then very few senators arise to that august standard as expected by the Post.  Mark has been, though, an “effective” senator, as he claims, and is to be especially lauded for his solid and untiring work in protecting our constitutional liberties and making health care more affordable.

Mark’s right when he says, “Coloradans expect and deserve someone who will work across the aisle to find common-sense solutions, not someone who puts party above all else.”

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