Senator-elect Cory Gardner of Colorado left constituents at a December, 2014 Meet and Greet hanging in the dust. On the heels of accusations that he “sold out the Republican party” through his support for an unpopular spending bill, Gardner appeared afraid to face conservative voters when his aides blocked access to known Republicans at the GOP event in Highlands Ranch, CO.
In an interview with Politichicks, Florence Sebern shared her experience. She said that she was not there as part of any organized group, but because civics is an integral part of their lives. As a homeschool mom, she brought her high schooler to meet Colorado’s newly elected senator.
With about 100 people at the meet and greet, it was a standing room only event where Gardner spoke for about two minutes and then went to mingle with the crowd. Sebern stated that she and her son stood back so that senior citizens in attendance could meet the senator-elect first.
Sebern described Gardner’s departure as abrupt, leaving the impression that he felt uncomfortable surrounded by people familiar to the campaign who might have had questions on his support for the spending bill which funded President Obama’s mandate for amnesty. Sebern reported that there was no announcement for last minutes pictures or autographs, though there were several people waiting in line to see him.
“Gardner is informing a whole new set of voters,” Sebern said, emphasizing that he sent a message to young people that they are not important enough for him to stay and shake their hands. She described him as being bumrushed out of the room with 10 to 15 constituents in line still waiting to talk to him. She noted that he abandoned two young constituents. One young man appeared to have been hoping for an autograph of a book or magazine. The other one was Sebern’s son—who will be eligible to vote when Senator Gardner is up for re-election.
Activists such as KLZ radio host Ken Clark were stunned that Gardner would leave so quickly without a word to his constituents. On his December 18th radio show covering the Gardener event, Clark said, “I never seen a politician run so fast to get out of the room in my entire life.” Clark also was blocked from access, flanked by Gardner’s aides. He described aides forming a circle around Gardner before he was whisked away in “a very spirited walk.”
While many of the attendees were there to congratulate Gardner on his election, Clark had questions on his support of the omnibus spending bill and President Obama’s agenda in his current elected position as a Congressman. Clark stated,
“I don’t really do the paying homage to people. Politicians are those that need to be kept in check, not put up on a pedestal. I mean that’s a very different way of looking at things. Because they have the power to steal your money, they have the power to take your freedom. They can take everything you have by their votes.”
But Clark was not the only one with questions about his vote for the bill, nicknamed the “cromnibus.” A constituent described his experience on Clark’s show, noting that he drove over an hour to meet with the candidate he helped get elected, “We didn’t get a chance so much to say hi or ask him a question.” The caller confirmed that Gardner’s aides surrounded him and led him away.
Another constituent called in, “This was not a planned event to disrupt a meet and greet. We just wanted an opportunity to speak with our elected rep. We did not sneak in. We RSVP’d.” He described how he was blocked access to Gardner, “Regardless of wherever I went in the room to try to get a little closer to Cory Gardner, the same two or three people just kind of mysteriously, kind of meandered and stood in front of me.”
Exclusive video provided to Politichicks shows Gardner leaving to the call of “Thank you, Senator. Thanks for nothing.”
Additional footage also shows a brief confrontation following Gardner’s exit between a woman who some Republicans referred to as a “Gardner apologist” and disenfranchised constituents.
Neither Gardner nor his media rep responded to a request by Politichicks for clarification on what happened at the meet and greet.
Meanwhile, the 2022 Senatorial campaign may already be underway with talk of a primary challenger for Gardner. Social media exploded with comments about the event, with more than one post about the possibility of limiting Gardner to one term in the Senate. A Republican who worked to elect Gardner—who asked not to be identified—posted in a closed GOP Facebook group, “Gardner was smiling when I told him that I had knocked on more than 4,000 doors in (sic) his behalf. His smile faded when I put my hands on his shoulders and told him that he could expect a primary challenge if he did not vote for a change in congressional leadership.”