KEY POINTS

  • Trump will take part in a Denver fundraising luncheon for Gardner on March 13
  • John Hickenlooper has wide name recognition in the state and the support of Democrats on Capitol Hill
  • Colorado also might not want to reelect a senator who is close to Trump and the state has trended blue in recent years

Republican Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner could be in for a tough race in November. Despite competing in a state that supported Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, Gardner's campaign is receiving help from President Trump. 

Trump will take part in a Denver fundraising luncheon for Gardner on March 13. Guests at the fundraiser who give at least $100,000 will be given VIP seating at the event and a photo opportunity with Trump.

The alignment between Gardner and Trump is not new. On Feb. 20, Trump held a rally for Gardner in conservative hotbed Colorado Springs, where he was confident that Gardner would win reelection. 

“We are going to win Colorado in a landslide," Trump boasted at the rally. "And you’re going to help us get Cory Gardner across that line because he’s been with us 100%."

Trump is possibly rewarding Gardner’s loyalty, as he voted to acquit Trump during the Senate impeachment trial in February. Gardner also votes with Trump 89% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The decision to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment appeared to signal that Gardner was maintaining loyalty to the party's base. In October 2016, Gardner said he would not vote for Trump for president. 

Gardner may need as much support as he can get against his top Democratic opponent, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper, 68, has wide name recognition in the state and the support of Democrats on Capitol Hill. He also made a run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination along with Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.

Colorado also might not want to reelect a senator who is close to Trump and the state has trended blue in recent years. According to Morning Consult, Trump has a -13 net approval rating, which is a wider margin than New Mexico and Nevada — two states with a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators. In 2016, Clinton defeated Trump, 48.16% to 43.25%. Democratic Gov. Jared Polis defeated his Republican opponent in 2018 by a landslide

Gardner, 45, defeated incumbent Democrat Mark Udall in 2014, 48.21% to 46.26%. He had previously served as a U.S. Representative from 2011 to 2015 and was a member of the Colorado House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011.

Hickenlooper, a two-term governor, has attacked Gardner for his stances on the environment, such as his decision to vote in favor of Andrew Wheeler, Trump’s nominee for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler previously worked as a coal lobbyist. 

Hickenlooper is coming off a fundraising surge, having raised $2.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to Gardner's $2 million. Gardner still has more cash on hand, however, due to his support from big-name GOP donors such as former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush. He also has received endorsements from Koch Industries’ political action committee and the Coors family.