National popular vote
Background: The Electoral College picks U.S. presidents by awarding electors to the candidate who wins each state, rather than the one who wins the most votes nationwide. Colorado has been at the forefront of the debate in recent years about potential changes, and home to the “faithless elector” movement in 2016, a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. A controversial 2019 bill to join a national popular-vote movement that faces a repeal vote in November.
Opposes the national popular vote
A: Gardner in 2019 wrote an op-ed in the Denver Post that said the 2019 bill passed by the state legislature is “an affront to the very institutions of our democratic republic. This bill guts Colorado’s independent voice and will have a profound negative impact on Colorado’s influence going forward.” Gardner’s leadership PAC, Project West PAC, donated $50,000 to a group opposing the national popular vote.
Reversed stance to support national popular vote
A: Hickenlooper has expressed reservations about dropping the Electoral College. He told The Sun in 2019: “In the end, our Founding Fathers got things pretty right. It might be best to just stay right where we are.” But in a reversal, his campaign now says he supports Proposition 113, which bypasses the traditional Electoral College and enter the state into the national popular vote interstate compact.
Supreme Court vacancy
Background: President Donald Trump’s move to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court is emerging as a cornerstone issue. And it’s generating renewed interest in increasing the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. It comes as Republicans in the U.S. Senate have used their majority to appoint conservatives to the federal court system.
Said he’d vote for a qualified nominee
A: In March 2016, when President Barack Obama nominated a Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Gardner said the next president should fill the vacancy: “Our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high; the American people deserve a role in this process as the next Supreme Court Justice will influence the direction of this country for years to come.”
But this year, before Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee for the court, Gardner said in a statement, “When a President exercises constitutional authority to nominate a judge for the Supreme Court vacancy, the Senate must decide how to best fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent.” Gardner said he would vote for a “qualified nominee.”
Gardner has called court packing as an element of what he said was a radical, left-wing agenda.
He stands opposed
A: Hickenlooper opposes the U.S. Senate’s efforts to fill the court vacancy before a new president takes office.
He has avoided saying whether he would support adding justices to the court, but said he opposes the concept because of the precedent it sets. But he does support requiring a vote within a set period after a president appoints a Supreme Court justice to avoid what happened to Obama nominee Merrick Garland. He did not specify what timeline he would support.
Background: Colorado lawmakers are asking voters to repeal the property tax-constraining Gallagher Amendment. The constitutional measure has saved Colorado homeowners an estimated $35 billion in residential property taxes since voters adopted it in 1982, easing the financial blow of the state’s rising cost of living. But the drop in property tax revenue also has set off a cascade of problems for the public sector, squeezing local budgets in rural areas that can least afford it, while shifting more costs to a state government that has financial challenges of its own.
He stands in opposition, calling it a tax hike
A: Gardner said he doesn’t agree with Amendment B to repeal the Gallagher Amendment because it would void a forthcoming property tax break for homeowners.
Took on Gallagher as governor
A: He supports the ballot measure. On his way out of office in 2018, Hickenlooper asked the Colorado Supreme Court to provide the state government relief from the property tax-slashing amendment. He wrote at the time that the combination of TABOR and the Gallagher Amendment “caused the system to collapse.”
Background: The topic of gun regulations is prominent in Colorado, dating back to the Columbine High School shooting and more recently the attack on the Aurora theater. The state instituted universal background checks and lawmakers recently approved “red flag” legislation to try to keep guns out of the hands of those with mental health issues.
He does not
A: Gardner has called himself a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights and not backed any restrictions. Instead, he is focused on providing more access to mental health services and sponsored legislation to create a crisis line.
Supports stricter firearms control
A: At the federal level, Hickenlooper backs some of the reforms he signed into law in Colorado, including background checks for all gun sales and ammunition magazine limits. He also would support efforts to close the “Charleston loophole” regarding firearm sales that take place after the timeline for a background check expires.
Hickenlooper also agrees with implementing extreme risk order protection laws to use court orders to take firearms from those deemed a threat and an assault weapon ban that builds off expired legislation from 2004.
U.S. Senate filibuster
Background: The rules in the U.S. Senate necessitate 60 votes to pass legislation, rather than a majority vote of the 100-person chamber. If Democrats retake the chamber, some in the party want to abolish the rules to require a supermajority vote. The current Republican majority now uses a simple majority to approve Supreme Court nominations.
A: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in 2015 appointed Gardner to a task force that would evaluate ways to reform filibuster rules. But it’s unclear where Gardner stood then, or now, on the issue.