Cory Gardner focuses on jobs and the economy in Colorado Senate race


Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) talks with workers at TerraFlux in Longmont, Colo. (Sebastian Payne/The Washington Post)

LONGMONT, Colo. — The bright lights were beaming from every surface as Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) entered the offices of TerraLux, a small firm focusing on developing energy efficient lighting. TerraLux has provided LED light modules to Dartmouth's library and now has Princeton University in its sights. But, thanks to an aspect of the United States patent law, the firm is restricted in how quickly it can monetize its research.

“This is what matters,” said Gardner, gesturing at the TerraLux building, “how do we grow the economy, how do we create innovators and free the pathway of innovation and things that slow it down. Here you have a company that has 44 employees, 53 soon, and it could quadruple in a year if we simply a change a regulation that nobody knows why or how it got there. “

Throughout his visits on Thursday to TerraLux and Industry, a shared office space in Denver, Gardner is keen to project his pro-business credentials. “We have a situation where the Senate is killing good job ideas, the president is showing no leadership on the economy,” he said.

Gardner has a clear strategy for unseating the incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D), a plan of four E's for Colorado's four corners. "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.

He is quick to attack the Senate and President Obama for what he calls their inaction over the economy.

“When we win in November, it’s about doing the job that people sent us there to do,” Gardner said. “It’s about accomplishing the goals of the four corners plan, it’s about addressing immigration form, it’s about growing the economy, it’s about getting people back to work, it’s about tax reform, it’s about making the health-care system work.”


Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) talks with members of Industry, a workspace in Denver. (Sebastian Payne/The Washington Post)

He is bullish about his own chances but refuses to be drawn into speculation about whether the Republicans will take control of the Senate. “The only poll that matters is at 7:01 p.m. on Nov. 4. We’re excited about the support we have throughout the four corners of the state,” he said.

The Senate race in Colorado is likely to be close. A Quinnipiac University poll from July put the incumbent Udall at 42 percent and Gardner 44 percent. Another poll from NBC News/Marist poll found Udall was leading Gardner 48 to 41 percent, still within its margin of error. Both polls were taken among registered voters and Gardner may benefit from higher expected turnout among Republican-leaning voters.

Both polls showed that Udall is vulnerable. Only 42 percent approved of the way he's handling his job in Quinnipiac's poll, compared to 41 percent in the NBC poll. The Quinnipiac survey also found Gardner is ahead of Udall for handling the economy and jobs (by 46 to 35 percent), on the issue of gun control (46 to 33 percent) and on balancing what government spends and cuts.

The polling explains why Gardner is focusing primarily on an economic message. On the doorstep, Gardner said the economy is the first concern voters bring up — ahead of other pressing issues in Colorado such as immigration reform. When asked to summarize his message, Gardner reiterated his four corners plan but managed to sum up manifesto even quicker. “It’s getting government out of the way and letting America work.”

Sebastian Payne is a national reporter with The Washington Post. He is the Post’s 35th Laurence Stern fellow.
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