Senate hopeful Gardner visits Eagle | AspenTimes.com

Senate hopeful Gardner visits Eagle

Randy Wyrick
Vail Daily

EAGLE — U.S. Senate hopeful Cory Gardner rode his lead in the polls into Eagle on Wednesday night, where he rallied local Republicans without mentioning or disparaging his opponent.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows Gardner leading Democratic incumbent Mark Udall by 8 percentage points. An NBC News poll has them in a dead heat.

"We have a long way to go between now and Nov. 4 and will work tirelessly to get this job done," Gardner told the enthusiastic crowd.

"On Nov. 5 we want to have more Colorado in Washington and less Washington in Colorado," he said.

Gardner's bump in the polls stems from his performance in the latest debate, said Kaye Ferry, chairwoman of Eagle County's Republican Party.

Udall's campaign sent out a thank-you letter to supporters Thursday, accusing Gardner's campaign of running misleading TV ads that smear Udall's record "of doing right by Colorado." He asked supporters for a $3 donation to help the campaign stay ahead of Gardner, noting there are just 26 days to go before the election.

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Gardner was representing Colorado's 4th Congressional District and said he was perfectly happy in his work. Initially, after talking it over with his wife, he turned down a Senate run.

"We felt we had more work to do in the House," he said.

But he said the more he watched the country struggle, the more he became convinced he needed to run for Senate.

"My wife and I realized we didn't go to Congress to live in Washington. We went to make a difference," Gardner said.

Giving Republicans control of the Senate would free up more than 300 bills shelved by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Gardner said. Some of those bills would stimulate the economy and create jobs, he said.

"We can become No. 51 and make Harry Reid a footnote in history," Gardner said to thunderous applause from local Republicans. "People are continuing to struggle. Incomes are down, and so is the labor participation rate. People can't find jobs and they're working fewer hours thanks to ill-conceived ideas like Obamacare."

Gardner declared his candidacy in 2011 and started touring the state with town meetings. Most crowds were small — 20 or 30 people. Then in August 2011, the Budget Control Act and the sequester hit the headlines. Those town-hall crowds quintupled in size, and people started paying attention to their federal government, and not necessarily in a happy way, Gardner said.

"It was a blunt-force tool where you didn't need to use a blunt-force tool. A thoughtful Congress could have been more precise," he said.

Gardner's Four Corners plan

Gardner is touting his Four Corners Plan for Colorado — four E's: energy, economy, education and environment.

"It's about economic growth, responsible energy development, education for the future and making sure we continue to preserve and protect the incredible environment we have in Colorado," he said. "It addresses the four corners of Colorado: the Western Slope, Eastern Plains, northern and southern, Colorado. You can't paint the entire state with the same broad brush."

Energy independence means making North America energy-secure through renewable and traditional sources and through energy efficiency, Gardner said.

"We could save $20 billion a year just by making federal buildings more energy efficient," he said.

His economic plan would make it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses, because "big businesses are started in small garages," he said.

He said his education plan would help make college affordable and "get Congress out of the classroom and reinvest local school districts with the authority and control they need."

The environment is why we live in Colorado, he said, and it must be protected.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.