Cory Gardner was born into a farming family in Yuma, Colo., and now lives in Wray. His father was a Democratic member of the Yuma Town Council, and Gardner became interested in politics and agriculture at an early age. He earned a bachelor's degree from Colorado State University and a law degree from the University of Colorado.
After law school, Gardner moved to Washington, D.C., to work as a spokesman for the National Corn Growers Association. He returned to Colorado in 2002 to work for then-U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, a Republican. Gardner was appointed to the state House in 2005 and elected to a full term in 2006.
Gardner runs Farmers Implement Co. with his parents.
He and his wife, Jaime, have a daughter and a son.
It would be hard to argue Cory Gardner doesn't embody the political bent of the rural eastern Colorado district he represents. He grew up in the agriculture business, converted from a Democrat as a child to a firm Republican as an adult and now focuses on fighting federal spending and natural gas regulation in Congress.
Gardner took office in 2011 after defeating a one-term Democrat, former Rep. Betsy Markey. Markey served a single term after what now looks to have been a fluke 2008 election in a solidly GOP area. Markey was boosted to office mostly because the longtime incumbent, former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, alienated the district with outspoken opposition to abortion and gay marriage.
Gardner appears to have learned Musgrave's lesson. He has avoided talking about social issues and instead uses his position to advocate for farmers, the natural gas industry and reduced federal spending — all close to the hearts of many in Colorado's second-largest district.
Gardner voted for the so-called Ryan Budget, a proposal named for Rep. Paul Ryan that would slash federal spending on Medicare, give states more control to cut Medicaid and cut the highest individual tax rates.
A member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Gardner has also repeatedly chided President Barack Obama's administration for what Gardner considers standing in the way of domestic energy production. Along with fellow Republican Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn, Gardner has also called on federal energy and health regulators to defer to state regulations on drilling procedures such as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."
Perhaps Gardner's only misstep in Congress was his 2012 attendance, along with 11 other freshman House Republicans, at a fishing trip to Key Largo, Fla., with deep-pocketed donors. The trip was featured on a national CBS News investigation, which contrasted the high-end getaway with a 2010 Gardner ad in which he told voters, "I will always put Colorado families before the Washington special interests."
Gardner faced no Republican primary opposition in 2012 and appears well-poised to cruise to re-election. Colorado's 4th Congressional District became significantly more Republican after reapportionment, and the GOP now enjoys a nearly 20-point registration advantage over Democrats. The district now includes some solidly Republican areas in Denver's southern exurbs. Also, the redrawn 4th District no longer includes Fort Collins, home of Colorado State University and formerly the largest Democratic area in the district.
Committee Assignments: Energy and Commerce
American Conservative Union Rating: 84
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 0
Cory Gardner is not seeking re-election in Colorado's 4th Congressional District. Gardner won his June 2014 primary for Colorado's Senate seat, he will face Mark Udall in November.
(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 25, 2014.)