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Protests expected outside invitation-only GOP meet and greet in Colorado Springs

Author: Conrad Swanson - July 13, 2018 - Updated: July 26, 2018

Then U.S. Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner greets volunteers during a visit to GOP campaign headquarters in Greenwood Village in 2014. (AP file photo)

COLORADO SPRINGS — Party lines will be drawn along Tejon and Kiowa streets Friday afternoon when top Colorado Republicans arrive at the El Paso County Republican Party headquarters.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton will meet and greet constituents at 3 p.m. for an invitation-only event at the local GOP office, 31 N. Tejon St., said Cassandra Sebastian, county party executive director. Gardner will likely endorse Stapleton’s campaign as the candidate discusses his Wednesday selection of state Rep. Lang Sias as his running mate.

It is also expected that Gardner will speak about President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat on the U.S. Supreme Court vacated by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, Sebastian said.

Gardner has already said he will review Kavanaugh’s judicial record and ensure that the judge will “approach each case on its merits and follow the law as it is written,” Colorado Politics reported. He urged Republicans and Democrats to consider the nomination objectively, rather than as a partisan issue.

But others have cried foul and noted that Gardner and other Republicans did not follow their own advice when then-President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

“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,” Gardner said of Garland’s nomination in a 2016 release.

A representative for Gardner said the senator wasn’t available to comment Thursday.

Scalia’s seat was filled last year by Trump’s nominee, Colorado Judge Neil Gorsuch.

With Kavanaugh, the issues at hand are the timing and whether civil, criminal or impeachment cases concerning Trump will come before the Supreme Court, said protest organizer Jillian Freeland, a board member of the progressive organization Unite Colorado Springs.

“Our goal is to try and ask Senator Gardner to really carefully consider the statements that Kavanaugh has made in the past, specifically the most pressing thing is that he does not think presidents should be subject to civil or criminal investigations,” Freeland said.

Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran of Denver urged Gardner and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet to postpone a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, Colorado Politics reported. House Majority Leader KC Becker of Boulder echoed that message.

Freeland said she expects about 100 people to participate in the protest. Sebastian said she anticipates about 50 people will attend the Republican meeting.

Conrad Swanson

Conrad Swanson