Candidates should have a crisp answer to this question: “Why are you running?”

Democratic President John F. Kennedy ran promising to “Get America moving again.”

Kennedy delivered by slashing income taxes across the board by 20%. His plan promised to “restore an idea that has helped make our country great — that a person who devotes his efforts to increasing his income, thereby adding to the nation’s income and wealth, should be able to retain a reasonable share of the results.”

Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Kennedy’s tax cuts into law and the economy soared.

Republican President Ronald Reagan also ran to improve the economy.

“The key to restoring the health of the economy lies in cutting taxes,” Reagan said. He cut taxes; the economy soared.

Democratic President Bill Clinton told us “it’s the economy, stupid.” He slashed capital gains taxes; the economy soared.

President Donald Trump vowed “to make America Great Again.” He cut taxes and regulations; the economy soared.

In Colorado’s 2020 U.S. Senate race, we cannot determine why former Gov. John Hickenlooper chooses to run — aside from a pledge during his failed presidential campaign to increase taxes. Hickenlooper made it perfectly clear he would be no good in the Senate, declaring “I’m not cut out to be a senator” on Feb. 23, 2019. He confirms this conviction almost every day.

His campaign sent a mass email Saturday seeking advice on messaging, campaigning and developing a platform.

The email said Hickenlooper wants survey answers “to help us set our agenda and plan our strategy for the next couple months. He wants to know what issues you care about and where you’d like to see this campaign go.”

A candidate should inspire, lead and offer solutions. Hickenlooper should tell Coloradans why he wants the job, not the other way around. He should tell voters what, specifically, he plans to do for them aside from raising taxes.

Hickenlooper wants a seat held by Sen. Cory Gardner, who helped Trump deliver tax cuts in the tradition of Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan and Clinton. Gardner is not flailing with emails whining about meager grassroots support while seeking a message and a cause.

Gardner’s ambition is clear. He wants to continue a juggernaut of nonpartisan, positive outcomes he delivers on a near-daily basis for Colorado. His achievements speak for themselves.

Instead of desperately seeking direction, Gardner’s staff works overtime explaining the senator’s accomplishments. It is hard to keep up. Friday provided a classic example.

“We are proud to announce that we have secured the president’s support to provide full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and address the maintenance backlog at our national parks,” Gardner said. “It is a great day for Colorado. It is a great day for public lands.”

This outcome benefits everyone — old and young, Democrat and Republican, nonaffiliated, and more. Gardner achieved the essence of a universal victory.

That wasn’t all Gardner delivered on Friday. At the senator’s insistence, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer removed import tariffs on medical products our state and country need to contend with coronavirus. Gardner proposed the idea in a Feb. 28 letter to Lighthizer, suggesting removal of tariffs on 301 medical products. The moment the world learned of the virus, Gardner emerged as a leader in the fight to protect the United States.

“It is crucial that there is a robust supply of critical medical products like gloves, thermometers, and medical caps,” Gardner said. “I applaud USTR for following through on my request to remove tariffs on these items …”

Love or loathe President Trump, he has enormous say in what Colorado gets from the federal government. Rather than fret about who serves in the White House, Gardner maintains a constructive relationship with the president that consistently improves life for everyone in Colorado.

Because of Gardner, we are home to Space Force. Because of Gardner, military personnel have raises and paid family leave. Because of Gardner, the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management moved from the swamp to Grand Junction. Because of Gardner, Colorado has more highway funding. Because of Gardner, public lands will improve. We would need more space to present an exhaustive list of his feats. Gardner delivers like a winning Super Bowl quarterback. He is an A-list player in Washington.

Meanwhile, a man who said “I’m not cut out to be a senator” — who said it’s hard to achieve anything in Washington — needs the public’s help. Hickenlooper seeks a message, campaign advice, money, and a reason to take on Gardner. It is hard to see how he would deliver anything but new taxes doing a job he is “not cut out” for.

The Gazette Editorial Board


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