Republican Congressman Cory Gardner stopped in Montrose for a voter meet-and-greet Monday.
Gardner is currently the U.S. Representative for Colorado's 4th Congressional District, which covers most of the eastern part of the state. He faces Democratic incumbent Mark Udall in a hotly contested race that could decide which party controls the Senate.
KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Gardner at his campaign event and brings us this candidate interview.
PALMISANO: Amendment 68 would allow casino-style gambling at horse racetracks in Mesa, Pueblo, and Arapahoe counties. What is your stance on this?
GARDNER: I have said that I oppose that and I will oppose it. I’ll vote no on it. I think that’s something that needs more discussion and ought to be considered by the state legislature before something like that happens.
PALMISANO: You’ve dropped your support for Amendment 67 (Colorado’s personhood ballot measure) and say you do support life. What does that statement mean?
GARDNER: Well I’ve never supported Amendment 67. I oppose the personhood amendments. I do support life, but again I think we should focus on issues around the state like the economy, energy issues, education, and the environment.
PALMISANO: Focusing on energy here, how would you distinguish yourself from other Republicans and work on a nonpartisan energy measure?
GARDNER: I’m a strong supporter of the all of the above energy policy. I think sometimes when Republicans talk about all of the above sometimes the may only be talking about the traditional side. I actually mean renewable and traditional energy when it comes to all of the above. On the Western Slope of Colorado not only do we have incredible traditional energy opportunities whether that’s coal, natural gas, other forms of tradition energy but we also have chances for solar energy, chances for hydropower, chances for geothermal energy. Those are renewable energy opportunities we should take advantage of.
PALMISANO: And, what is your stance on fracking?
GARDNER: I think hydraulic fracturing has been proven safe and without it we would never be able to achieve North American energy security, which we are about to achieve.
PALMISANO: What do you think of marijuana legalization here in Colorado?
GARDNER: The founders determined the states would be laboratories of democracy. Colorado is deep in the heart of the laboratory right now.
PALMISANO: The Western Slope has a struggling economy. Here in this area in Delta County we had a [coal] mine that has closed. What do you think other than energy we could bring to the Western Slope to beef up jobs here?
GARDNER: First of all I want to talk a little bit more about energy because I think that is a key contrast between Sen. Udall and I. We ought to make sure that we are allowing coal, clean burning coal, opportunities [and] clean coal technologies to move forward creating and restoring those jobs here on the Western Slope. We have to make sure that we have continued opportunities in agriculture [and] making sure we are opening up new markets for agricultural products and commodities from the Western Slope, making sure that free-trade agreements are advantageous to the Western Slope, protecting our water…for farming…recreation…[and] industries on the Western Slope. What we have to do for tourism, what we can do for tourism. I’m a co-sponsor a measure called Brand USA. [It] helps promote places like western Colorado around the globe, bringing in tourism, bringing in conferences, making sure that we are spending money and capitalizing on the incredible resources of the Western Slope and the great beauty that we have here.
PALMISANO: Your current district right now, District 4 is a rather conservative district. Colorado in this election is considered a swing state. What would you do if elected to maybe work more on a nonpartisan basis?
GARDNER: If you look at my record there’s an organization called No Labels. [It is] a national-bipartisan that’s put together to find solutions instead of constantly having one party fight the other. It’s about bringing the parties together for bigger solutions. This organization gave me their No Labels problem solver seal of approval because of the work I’ve done across the aisle.
PALMISANO: You’ve branded yourself as a “new” Republican. What is that?
GARDNER: It’s about ideas. It’s about solutions. It’s about putting in place things that actually work. It’s about being for ideas. It’s about putting forward solutions that actually accomplish things and will actually provide solutions to our greatest challenges. Sometimes Republicans have been far too guilty of saying no or just being against something. That’s got to change.
PALMISANO: What are your biggest concerns for Colorado?
GARDNER: We have a Colorado right now where medium household income has declined by $4,000. People who are hourly workers are seeing their hours cutback because of the Affordable Care Act. People are working harder and harder each and every day right here on the Western Slope only to find themselves paying more for gas…college…food,..[and] finding it harder to get ahead. We have to…get this economy growing again [and] find ways to help increase salaries of people around the state by getting government out of the way and letting America work.