Colorado has the third-youngest senator in Congress who has proven himself a workhorse who gets great results for Colorado. With six years of gaining trust and respect among his colleagues, Pentagon brass and the White House administration, he is well on his way to becoming the most formidable member of the Senate.

On a ballot full of difficult questions, one decision is easy: reelect Sen. Cory Gardner.

A vote for Gardner’s opponent is one that puts at risk the otherwise likely decision to keep Space Command in Colorado. Gardner, with the help of U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, has led the charge on persuading President Donald Trump and Department of Defense officials that the agency belongs right here in Colorado Springs. If voters don’t keep him in the Senate, they will send a clear message to Washington they don’t appreciate Gardner’s fight for Colorado as the best possible host for Space Command.

A vote for Gardner’s opponent, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, is a vote to replace a young and highly productive member of the Senate with a man who will approach his 80s before serving out the first term needed to begin gaining seniority. By no fault of his own, Hickenlooper will never serve long enough to become the master of a role he told us he is not qualified to fill.

“I’m not cut out to be a senator,” Hickenlooper declared to the world, reiterating in multiple variations when he made a futile run for the White House last year.

One can think of multiple reasons Hickenlooper would make a lousy senator, including the problems he left Colorado with after eight years as governor and eight as mayor of Denver. He tried to end homelessness and only made it worse, focusing on brick-and-mortar solutions when the issue is more related to addiction and mental health disorders.

Hickenlooper oversaw Colorado as the teen and adult suicide rates soared. He oversaw Colorado as mental health services diminished just as demand for them grew. He oversaw Colorado as it became the world’s magnet for marijuana users and producers. He oversaw Colorado as infrastructure crumbled and endangered people’s lives. He oversaw Colorado as the crime rate soared to record highs. He tapped emergency recovery funds for “personal services” and a failed legal defense against ethics charges and left the state with no reserve funds for COVID-19 or any other crisis.

Hickenlooper even walked away from a radio interview for his inability to say newborn infants unwanted by their parents deserve life-saving health care.

We could go on, but the best reason to reelect Gardner is Gardner and all he has done. Indisputable facts tell us he ranks among the four or five most productive crosspartisan members of Congress. With an 11th bill signed into law last week, he by far has introduced and passed more legislation than the other eight members of the Colorado delegation combined. Consider a few notable accomplishments:

• Securing funds to complete the Aurora VA hospital

• Protecting public lands with five Colorado-specific bills signed into law

• Lowering health insurance costs by passing the Health Insurance Tax repeal and working with the Polis and Trump administrations on Colorado’s reinsurance program

• Securing more than $450 million for Colorado infrastructure projects, including widening “The Gap” on I-25

• Moving the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters to Grand Junction

• Advocating scientific research and entrepreneurship by sponsoring the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act

• Introducing and passing legislation to create a nationwide 811 suicide and mental health crisis line that will save countless lives

Though the far left blasts Gardner for a cordial relationship with Trump, that association has been productive for Colorado. Knowing Gardner, we are certain he would work closely with any president and executive branch administration to get things done for Colorado.

Trump planned to slash funding for public lands and Gardner persuaded him, by making rational arguments, to do the opposite. Score a big one for Colorado. Gardner played a key role in persuading Trump to appoint Boulder resident Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Score a big one for Colorado. Gardner spent several occasions last week encouraging Trump to consider another Coloradan — Gardner’s former law professor and 10th Circuit Appellate Judge Allison Eid.

Gardner distinguished himself as one of two members of Congress who sounded alarms about COVID-19 as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control told Americans they had little to worry about. Gardner, who did not trust the Chinese government, said the disease posed a major threat to the United States. He demanded a subcommittee hearing in January to prove it, even though he was accused of overreacting. The senator requested billions in coronavirus funding before most Americans were aware of the disease.

Throughout the pandemic, Gardner worked side by side with Gov. Jared Polis and other Democrats to ensure Colorado’s access to ventilators and other critical supplies. His close relationship with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, whom he hosted in Colorado recently, netted 2 million masks when health care workers needed them most.

When Gardner received calls from Coloradans needing cleaning supplies or other goods hoarded into scarcity, he put his staff to work finding supplies and delivering them to those most in need of assistance.

Gardner’s accomplishments speak for themselves, making him Colorado’s leading asset in Washington — by far. Another term for Gardner means the likely designation of Colorado as the permanent home of Space Command. It means better pay and benefits for Colorado’s military personnel. It means better and safer transportation. It means fewer people dying of suicide, addiction and mental health problems. It means better access to health care.

Six years of Hickenlooper would likely turn into six more years of ethics lapses, mismanagement of funds, and well-intentioned outcomes that backfire. By stark contrast, another six years of Gardner means six more years of efficient, energetic, ethical and constructive work to improve Colorado and the country.

The Gazette Editorial Board

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