Gardner says GOP committee should stop airing attack ad on opponent Hickenlooper

Gardner says GOP committee should stop airing attack ad on opponent Hickenlooper
© Greg Nash

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerFrom a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters The US military has options against China McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill MORE (R-Colo.) said the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) should pull an ad tying his opponent, former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperRepublicans uncomfortably playing defense Obama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements Gardner says GOP committee should stop airing attack ad on opponent Hickenlooper MORE (D), to a fatal 2017 gas pipeline explosion.

The NRSC’s ad hits Hickenlooper for accepting donations from the company that built the pipeline, which caused an explosion that killed Erin Martinez’s husband and brother.

Martinez, who survived the explosion, has joined Hickenlooper in condemning the ad, telling The Denver Post last week that she found it “horrifying.”

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Gardner said in a statement that he has spoken to Martinez and on Tuesday "expressed to her that I would not have personally run the ad, and I hope the ad comes down."

"If I had the power to take down the ad, I would," said Gardner, who chaired the NRSC during the 2018 election cycle, according to CNN.

NRSC spokeswoman Joanna Rodriguez defended the content of the ad in a statement.

"The kind of grief Ms. Martinez and her family have survived is unimaginable, and their public fight to keep other Colorado families safe is incredibly important," she said. "John Hickenlooper said he was going to do the right thing to protect Colorado families right after the explosion, but then a private donation to his office from the gas company responsible changed that. He looked the other way and, as The Denver Post reported in October 2019, left office without getting the job done."

Martinez, meanwhile, suggested in a statement forwarded by the Hickenlooper campaign that Gardner, considered one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans in the 2020 elections, took too long to raise objections to the ad, according to CNN.

"While I am glad that Sen. Gardner has finally realized the ad should be taken down, I am sorry that it has taken him and his staff more than four days to respond to my phone call and request for some relief for my family," she said.

"Our family's trauma should not be the subject of a horrible political ad," Martinez added. "We have worked very hard to create a positive legacy for my husband Mark and my brother Joey to ensure no one relives our nightmare."