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'He's a brave man': The lonely presence of Cory Gardner

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“Am I the only Republican?” Gardner asked his fellow GOP senators during the roll ask for a bill to shield young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Three other GOP senators soon rushed to sign up him in support.

“It was a useful moment,” Gardner said within an interview within his NRSC office.

But for Gardner, that it was the next day to the political tightrope. As NRSC chairman, bigger the single most partisan jobs in Washington, yet is working overtime to remove a bipartisan mold.

One moment he’s working together with Democrats with an immigration bill opposed by President Donald Trump and blasting the administration’s marijuana policies. The subsequent he’s planning the political doom of those same Democrats and strategizing with Trump the way to maintain your Senate in Republican hands.

“Campaigns shouldn’t interfere with the cabability to work together with the other,” Gardner said. “But that relating to actual Election Day, that i am not intending to make everything I can to mention that this [Republican] would perform a better job.”

Not we are all convinced that Gardner can accomplish the balanced exercise.

“When you are the point person offering criticism of fellow members," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), a top-notch GOP target, "it puts you from a difficult position if you find yourself aiming to do bipartisan work."

Yet Gardner seems confident with it. He waxes optimistically around the prospects of committing to Heitkamp as well as the four other Democrats from crimson states, which would supply the GOP its largest majority in decades.

At the top of the a protracted interview, he read headlines from POLITICO and also other publications predicting the GOP’s impending doom in just about every election since 2010 – then bragged about the GOP’s position entering the midterms.

“The states where we’re also winning are states that will be incredibly ready for just a Republican candidate to win,” Gardner said. “This is an offensive cycle for people like us, and then we present an possiblity to pick up seats that many of us shouldn’t you are while in the 2012 cycle.”

Though Gardner never admits that his party’s prospects have declined due to Trump’s unpopularity additionally, the failure to get top-tier candidates in states like Montana, he or she is realistic around the challenges he faces. When pressed about how many seats Republicans could most likely get, performing a shorter impression of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with Kentucky drawl, proclaiming that predicting Senate races is usually a fool’s errand.

“I won’t [put a number]. We’re optimistic about all of the races. Element of that may be even if of who We’re,” Gardner said, noting how rarely the GOP has built majorities of over 55 seats in past times century. "We need to deal with history.”

Though Gardner is cautious in her predictions, he’s taken some risks that have already put him crosswise regarding his party. He opposed early drafts from the GOP bill to repeal Obamacare, holding out for that more generous procedure for Medicaid. Gardner also voted against confirmation of Trump’s nominee for trade representative and also a Trump-backed surveillance bill.

And he took a surprisingly firm stand against Roy Moore, the controversial GOP Senate candidate in Alabama last year, arguing that, if elected, Moore really should be expelled from the chamber after several women accused him of sexual misconduct that they said occurred when they were teenagers and he was a student in his 30s.

It probably have hurt Moore’s chances and cost the GOP a Senate seat, but it boosted Gardner’s standing together with his colleagues.

“Refusing to back Roy Moore, in their position, made it clear as soon as possible that this NRSC won’t be doing that. And his awesome reasonableness and articulate support for immigration reform really helps,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). “It’s refreshing.”

Gardner’s role like a swing-state chairman is a shift from recent party practice, whereby campaign chairmen came from safe GOP states like Texas, Mississippi and Kansas. So it could be no real surprise that Gardner has embraced the model set by fellow Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet in 2014 when he chaired the Democrats’ campaign arm and faced a hardcore reelection campaign: Stay low-key whilst keeping the politicking behind the curtain.

Unlike many Republicans who regularly skewer their at-risk Democratic colleagues, Gardner often will not blast vulnerable Democrats by name: “I dislike discussing it within the Capitol. I merely don’t.”

Keeping his own political future on your mind, Gardner can’t buy to wear home as all looking for Trump with his fantastic policies, while he must always work with together with the president with his fantastic team to pick up seats this fall while in the 10 states Trump won in 2016. Speculate a political animal, an organised messenger and savvy tactician, Gardner desires to clarify they are going to do everything he can to defeat companies Claire McCaskill and Tammy Baldwin come November.

“He’s working her own way, the Cory way,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “He’s been strong on immigration and holds up into the Roy Moores worldwide. Which is the types of person we’d like leading the Republican Party.”

Immediately after the election, Bennet warned Gardner of your challenge however face endeavoring to grab seats in the Trump era, just like Bennet struggled to shield Democrats under Obama. Even so the two produce an unusually close bond as pragmatic-minded younger senators. Gardner spent extended hours with Democrats like Bennet aiming to hammer out an immigration compromise, as hard-liners in the White House privately fumed that he or she was undercutting GOP unity behind the president’s plan.

Gardner appeared supporting Trump’s proposal and also bipartisan amendment crafted by moderates Proof, Gardner said, that he’s "convinced of a solution" within the increasingly diverse state.

It earned him respect from Democratic Party elders, that is certainly something Gardner can cite whilst finds his name beside Trump’s over the ballot in 2020 in a state Clinton won.

“When Michael Bennet brought Cory area, I figured that is perfect,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “A Democrat plus a Republican inside the same room, attempting to solve a problem that’s crucial to america.”

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