U.S. Chamber backs Rep. Gardner’s Senate bid

FORT COLLINS – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday endorsed U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., in a tight U.S. Senate race watched nationwide.

Rob Engstrom, national political director for the U.S. Chamber, announced the Washington, D.C.,-based nonprofit’s endorsement of Gardner during the congressman’s visit Wednesday to the Rocky Mountain Innosphere, a technology startup incubator in Fort Collins. The U.S. Chamber previously had aired advertisements promoting Gardner’s campaign.

“Our job is to re-establish a pro-business majority in the U.S. Senate,” Engstrom said. “For us, Colorado is the most important state race in America.”

Gardner faces incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., for the hotly contested Senate seat.

Udall has backed business by working toward immigration reform, pushing to reauthorize an export-import bank that provides financing for Colorado exporters and supporting tax cuts for small businesses, Udall campaign spokeswoman Kristin Lynch said in an email.

“Congressman Gardner, on the other hand, has actively worked against small businesses, blocking efforts to fix our broken immigration system, refusing to reauthorize the (export-import) bank and supporting tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas,” Lynch said.

Gardner answered questions from business leaders in the region, who thanked the congressman for his persistence on issues such as the proposed expansion of Interstate 25 in Northern Colorado. Gardner, along with U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, met with Northern Colorado officials recently to discuss an expansion of the interstate between Colorado 66 and Colorado 14.

Gardner said Northern Colorado’s growth in population and freight traffic justifies a lane expansion in the region. The expansion has stalled due to a lack of state and federal funding.

“If we don’t fix it and address it, that’s the weak link in terms of continued opportunity and continued bright spot that is Northern Colorado,” he said.

Gardner also discussed immigration reform and his proposal for accounts for small businesses to set aside money taxed at lower rates to save for future business investments.   

Gardner favors a guest-worker program for illegal immigrants and increased border security.

“I hope that over the next couple weeks, the discussion, the attention, the intensity will rise on the president and the Senate to the point where they know and recognize they can’t just ignore it,” he said.

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