According to the two people he spoke with, in the space of 60 seconds last Friday, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) flipped from expressing sympathy for state Senate President Leroy Garcia and misgivings about the recall process to telling a recall booster, “I’ve never said I was against recalls.”
Former Pueblo GOP chair Tom Ready shared a paraphrased version of the exchange on Facebook last weekend:
The State Fair’s Legislative BBQ is neutral territory for politicians. Elected officials from both sides of the aisle, often wearing Western apparel with still-visible store creases, mingle over pulled pork and potato salad. Conversations are typically friendly and casual, but talking politics is never off-limits for this crowd, especially with an active recall taking place in the host city.
Garcia confirmed the exchange last Friday between Gardner and himself, saying that Gardner approached him and his wife. As Garcia tells it:
Gardner: “Hey how are things down here?”
Garcia: “Well, obviously you know it’s a bit of a busy season right now.”
Gardner: “Yeah I’m kind of sorry that this is happening and I don’t know that this should be the process in which this is the way things work.”
Garcia noted that Tom Ready was standing next to them and “was caught up in the exchange” while it occurred. Ready then engaged Gardner directly about the recalls after he and Garcia had finished speaking.
Ready, who says he and Gardner have been friends for a long time, confirmed he was nearby during Gardner and Garcia’s conversation and that he spoke with Gardner immediately afterward.
“I spoke with Sen. Gardner about a minute later,” he said.
Asked if Gardner told Ready that he supported the recall of Sen. Garcia, Ready answered, “Yes he does.”
“He said he’s been quoted that he’s against recalls and he said that’s not really true. It’s just that his words have been twisted around- that’s basically what he told me. I asked him if he was for or against recalls and he said:
‘I’ve never said I was against recalls.'”
Ready acknowledged that Gardner’s statement didn’t explicitly affirm his support of the recall but effort, but felt that the sentiment behind his words was clearly that of support.
A request for clarification from Gardner’s office was not immediately returned.
Ready went on to explain his shift from supporting Garcia to hosting the recall kickoff party:
I’m a veteran and so is Leroy and I was supportive of him. But when he went against his hometown in favor of whatever the Governor wanted him to do, he lost my support. I told him we’d never do this recall if you had supported your home community.”
Asked for specific reasons, Ready led with Garcia’s support of the oil & gas safety bill.
“We have a huge industry called EVRAZ down here and they were going to do a $400 million expansion and then they hear about these changes in the oil and gas industry and don’t know what’s going to happen and there’s a big tube mill that supports the oil and gas industry and they were even thinking about shutting the whole thing down, that’s like 6000 employees.
The EVRAZ expansion project is closer to $500 million and is proceeding as planned. The engineering phase is expected to be completed by the end of the year, according to the company’s August 19 earnings conference call. EVRAZ employs approximately 1,000 employees in Pueblo.
EVRAZ told the Colorado Times Recorder that it is not involved in the recalls and later tweeted a statement noting its frequent work with Senate President Garcia.
Recall supporters have until October 18 to gather 13,506 valid signatures from registered voters in Senate District 3.