U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) jumped on conservative talk radio yesterday to laugh off a letter from Colorado House Speaker KC Becker and others requesting that Gardner pledge not to vote for Mitch McConnell as Republican leader of the U.S. Senate, if Gardner is re-elected in November.

Gardner didn’t tell KHOW radio host Dan Caplis whether he’d vote against McConnell.

Instead, Gardner said the pledge request was a show of “confidence” that Gardner will win his re-election campaign in November, because he only gets to vote for McConnell if he wins.

“I was attacked I think by the speaker of the House in Colorado, who urged me to vote against Mitch McConnell for being majority leader. And of course what that acknowledges is that we will win in November because the only way that I get to vote is if I win in November. So I appreciate their confidence.”

“This isn’t a joke, Coloradans need help now,” responded Becker in a statement to the Colorado Times Recorder. “Stop ducking the question: are you going to oppose McConnell or continue to go along with his dangerous agenda that hurts Colorado?”

Becker’s letter does not assume Gardner will win in November, but instead asks Gardner to pledge to vote against McConnell, “if re-elected.”

Gardner & McConnell NRSC election night 2018
Gardner, McConnell and others

“When you were first elected to the Senate, it was on a pledge to be an independent voice for Coloradans,” states Wednesday’s letter to Gardner. “Now, keeping your word means making a different pledge: that if re-elected, you will not vote for Mitch McConnell as your party’s leader in the Senate.”

Gardner’s spokesman declined to comment on the letter, when asked to do so Wednesday by ColoradoPolitics reporter Ernest Luning.

But the Republican senator brought up the topic unsolicited on KNUS, bolstering the idea that conservative talk radio is, as 9News’ Kyle Clark put it, Gardner’s “safe space.

The letter, which was signed by 21 Democratic lawmakers and progressive groups, goes on to state, “Given your promise to put our state’s interests ahead of your political party’s we have been dismayed to watch as you have marched lockstep with McConnell over the last six years, voting with him more than 90 percent of the time, running the committee to keep him installed as Majority Leader, and supporting his leadership without reservation. Now is the time to end that support.”

Gardner is widely considered among the most vulnerable Republican senators, and Democrats see his close ties to McConnell, who’s highly unpopular in Colorado, as a serious liability, and they frequently link Gardner to McConnell.

“Gardner won’t stand up to his party — instead, he works in tandem with Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump to rip health care from hundreds of thousands of Coloradans, sell out our public lands, and push rigid anti-choice policies,” said Colorado Democratic spokesman Eli Rosen in a news release today.

The letter asking Gardner to pledge not to vote for McConnell was signed by House Speaker KC Becker (HD-13), Democratic Representatives Janet Buckner (HD-40), Yadira Caraveo (HD-31), James Coleman (HD-7), Leslie Herod (HD-8), Edie Hooton (HD-10), Sonya Jaquez Lewis (HD-12), Julie McCluskie (HD-61), Dafna Michaelson Jenet (HD-30), Kyle Mullica (HD-34), and Tom Sullivan (HD-37), Senators Chris Hansen (SD-31) and Brittany Pettersen (SD-22), Be a Hero, Indivisible Front Range Resistance, ProgressNow Colorado, Rocky Mountain Values, Jim Alexee, director of Sierra Club Colorado, Polly Baca, former CO State Senator and spokesperson, Rocky Mountain Values, Dan Baer, Former Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and Former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Marie Aberger, spokesperson for Cut the Strings CO

Listen to Gardner on KHOW’s Dan Caplis Show Wednesday, May 20: