Hey, it's Cory

Why they love me, and why you should too

by Nat Stein


Hi, I’m Cory Gardner. Nice to meet you!  If I could look you in the eye and shake your hand, I would. 

Do you know about me? Because I know all about you. I know what you like to hear; I know what you like to see; I know how you like to feel. That’s because I’m good at this “getting elected” thing. One of the best, even. They’re calling me a rising star—I’ll take it. But I’m not here to gloat. I know you may not have wanted me as much as I wanted you. Still, we’re going to have to get along. I figured we may as well get to know each other. 

I was born and bred in good ‘ol Yuma, Colo. All the moms in town loved me. I was on the high school football team (center bench, but if anyone asks, just say quarterback). I was a Poli Sci major at Colorado State University. Shortly after, I represented Colorado’s 63rd district in the state house for awhile just to get my feet wet. It didn’t take long for me to move on to bigger and better things, though. Yuma elected me as its representative in the House of Representatives. The big one in D.C. It really worked out great for everyone. Don’t get me wrong though, D.C. is no Yuma. Sure, I did my four years there and all of my ambitions for the future involve staying there. But, make no mistake, I’m not one of them.

I’m a Yuma boy through and through. That’s the language I speak. Like Big Ag subsidies? You got Big Ag subsidies. Don’t like paying taxes to a government you don’t trust? I’ll sign lobbyist Grover Norquist’s “No New Tax”pledge. Are you so patriotic you wish the federal government just straight-up didn’t exist so the free market could work its magic? You got it: I voted to shut the sucker down last year. Did you feel the real-life effects of sequestration or getting furloughed from your job? Wasn’t me.

But enough about me. Do you know Mark Udall? I bet you do. All you stuck-up environmentalists from out-of-state fell head over heels for that bolo tie wearing daddy’s boy. I told you who Mark Udall really is: a culture warrior, fixated on the non-existent “War On Women,” that great myth propagated by the Nancy Pelosis and Rachel Maddows of the world. 

They thought women and their pesky reproductive organs would take me down. All Mark could spit about from behind the podium, on the stump or in front of a camera was that p-word: Personhood. The golden pro-life tenet that says life begins at conception, so abortion— heck, most every kind of contraception—is murder. Sure, I supported putting that into law at the state level. Twice. And, yeah, sure, I’m still technically a sponsor of federal personhood legislation. But those were just minor details Mark chose to emphasize. 

I was able to let it go, remember? It was September. I was on FOX31 news in Denver, talking to political reporter Eli Stokols. He just couldn’t move past the p-word, either. He kept trying to “clarify my position,” and “get me on the record” or whatever. This is why I hate interviews. But I took the chance to tell you all where I stand (in this election cycle at least). I looked you straight in the eyes and told you the truth:

“There is no federal personhood bill.”

Simple as that! 

“There is no federal personhood bill.”

My opponents, the press, even my own pro-life crowd, they couldn’t wrap their heads around it. But you could! Bless your little hearts. This is why we make such a great match: you trust me. And I really, really appreciate that.   

Yeah, I know I wrote that op-ed in the Denver Post about that over-the-counter contraceptive thing. I said we should just let our daughters march into a pharmacy and buy the pill. Why bother with doctors or prescriptions? If they want it, just stock it on the shelf. But that’s all water under the bridge now. We all know it’s not going anywhere now that election season’s over. No one even thinks it’s a good idea, but some of us in purple states just needed a lifeline, you know? Haven’t given it a second thought since November. And why would I? No one who matters gives a shit. Leadership isn’t going to touch the thing in Washington. My guys made it in the doors, our asses are covered, so we’re good. And if we’re good, you’re good. 

Do I really think you ladies should have easy and affordable access to birth control? Depends who’s asking. Just don’t ask the American taxpayers to subsidize all your whoring around. 

All I know is I made the team which means now I just do whatever Captain McConnell tells me to (and he just does whatever Coach Rove and our sponsor, the Kochs, tell him to). We’re gonna be the most solid defensive line this legislative chamber’s ever seen. No bills are getting past us!

People will tell you I rode in on some general anti-incumbency trend generated by Democrats having tripped over their own balls for pretty much the entire last decade. Sure, to a degree that might be true. Certainly, it’s the easy assessment to make if you just read coverage of my election that was written by those “journalists” at Salon or Politico or The Hill who’re holed up in their D.C. offices. But you know better than to believe their reductive narrative. Elections are about what’s happening on the ground. My personality won this election. 

If you actually know me in the flesh, you know where I really shine: with all eyes and ears on me. I’m a champ on the stump. This summer, I made at least 15 ladies in sweater vests cry with my emphatically intoned soliloquies about freedom and liberty and why hating Obama doesn’t mean you’re a racist. I’m different from the other politicians. When I walk away from the mic, the audience doesn’t just tweet my photo in hopes it might show up on some conservative blog—they wonder aloud whether they’ve just witnessed the second coming of Christ or at least a decent vice presidential nominee to pair with Jeb Bush.  

I think it’s my voice that gets ‘em. Even I get hard whenever I hear it on C-SPAN or YouTube. I could’ve been an actor, or done voice overs or read those books on tapes you listen to on road trips across America with your white, heterosexual family. 

But let’s not forget my smile. Have you seen it? ‘Cuz the people fucking love it. I realized it really doesn’t matter what comes out of my mouth, whether it’s truthful or sincere or decent or even coherent. I flash that same grin I use when you introduce me to your grandma for the first time since the engagement. 

I’m your new folky heartthrob, your GOP golden boy, your red-blooded happy warrior. I’m anything you want me to be. Whatever you’re polling for, that’s what I am. You’ll see: nice things come to those who pay. I mean, vote.

June Sassnat steinComment