As a result, the senator found himself constantly wedged between independent voters and other voters who expected him to break away from the president’s more extreme positions and those from the firmly conservative albeit less populated regions of the country. States that unquestionably supported Mr. Trump and demanded that Mr. Gardner do the same.
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He centered his re-election campaign largely on widely held agenda items unlikely to offend either group. He used his ties to the president to win Mr. Trump’s pledge this year to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund used to acquire public land, even though the president’s budget office had favored elimination of money for the program. Mr. Gardner, along with Senator Steve Daines of Montana, another Republican in danger, made a personal appeal to the White House for Mr. Trump to support the legislation, seeing it as a way to attract independent and moderate voters. The historic bill was enacted in August, but it was not enough.
Mr Hickenlooper, who in 1988 opened a popular brewery that helped redevelop downtown Denver, initially insisted he was not interested in the Senate seat.
“I’m not cut out to be a senator,” Hickenlooper said in early 2019 as he resisted demands to challenge Mr. Gardner and opted for a presidential election instead. But after failing to break through nationally, he quickly changed course, and in August 2019 he said “now is not the time to step away from the table” and that he does had “not finished fighting for the people of Colorado”.
Mr Hickenlooper still faced a hurdle to take on Mr Gardner, a main race against Andrew Romanoff, a former State House speaker who ran to the left of the former governor. Mr Hickenlooper’s journey to the appointment was complicated in June, when he failed to participate in a state ethics committee review of charges of failing to properly report private jet travel and trips abroad. He was looked down upon and received extensive negative media coverage. He appeared the next day, but the commission eventually fined him $ 2,750 for two violations and refused to overturn his contempt finding.
He still managed to beat Mr. Romanoff decisively in June, hosting a race with Mr. Gardner that drew millions of dollars from outside groups.
Mr. Hickenlooper hit Mr. Gardner continuously for voting to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. Mr Gardner pushed back and supported legislation that Republicans say would guarantee coverage, and when Democrats forced a vote last month on a measure to prevent the Trump administration from fighting in court to overturn the law on health, he was one of many Republican senators. in tough re-election races that broke with their party to support it. But he was never able to close the gap with Mr. Hickenlooper.