Washington, D.C. — When he decided to run for U.S. Senate, Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner (R) immediately began an attempt to remake the conservative image he had cultivated over previous years. In his time as a state legislator and U.S. representative, Gardner has pushed for dismantling the rights and protections that women have gained and opposed policies that would strengthen working- and middle-class families. Despite his best efforts, a new Center for American Progress Action Fund report, “Cory’s Colorado,” shows how Gardner’s actual actions have consequences for Colorado women, and a new Public Policy Polling, or PPP, poll suggests that women don’t trust him.
The CAP Action report focuses on how women’s economic security is disproportionately affected by Gardner’s actions and positions. Gardner has consistently voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act even though women lead nearly three times as many households as men in Colorado, yet earn just 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. He opposes—and has voted against—a minimum-wage increase even though most Coloradans support it, including 61 percent of women. Women make up the majority of those who would benefit from an increase—approximately 224,000 Colorado women—and the 13 states that have increased their minimum wage in 2014, including Colorado, have experienced faster job growth than those who have not. And his dozens of votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act mean he opposes nearly 146,000 Colorado women having access to affordable health care.
“Elections have consequences, and since Rep. Gardner was elected to Congress, he has worked against women on a range of issues,” said Allison Zelman, Managing Director of the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “While more than one-quarter of all female-headed households in Colorado live in poverty, Gardner has voted to take away access to affordable health care, has voted against a minimum-wage increase, and opposes equal pay for equal work. It is pretty clear why women overwhelmingly oppose Gardner in the race for Senate, meaning they could make the difference in November.”
According to the PPP poll, women support Sen. Mark Udall over Rep. Gardner 51 percent to 40 percent, while the gap in the gubernatorial race is 16 percent, with Gov. John Hickenlooper leading Bob Beauprez. Gardner’s biggest issue is that women simply don’t trust his efforts to appear more moderate, with 60 percent saying they “don’t trust Gardner when he says he no longer supports a personhood amendment,” compared to 28 percent who say they do.
As women have earned expansions of health rights and protections—especially with the passage of the Affordable Care Act—Gardner has opposed them at every turn. This progress not only improves access to affordable health care, it strengthens economic security for women. But despite his recent claims, Gardner repeatedly voted to repeal, dismantle, or defund the ACA, he supported and still co-sponsors a “personhood” bill, and his recent push to allow over-the-counter birth control comes with a $600 per year bill for women if he gets his way in repealing the health care law.
“While some may call Cory Gardner a ‘leader,’ the direction of that so-called leadership matters,” Zelman said. “Gardner’s alleged leadership has costly effects for Colorado’s women, and many of the issues he continues to actively oppose will be litigated by the next Congress. But women in Colorado are already saying they have seen enough of Gardner.”
The Center for American Progress Action Fund is the sister advocacy organization of the Center for American Progress. The Action Fund transforms progressive ideas into policy through rapid response communications, legislative action, grassroots organizing and advocacy, and partnerships with other progressive leaders throughout the country and the world. The Action Fund is also the home of the Progress Report.
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