Completing her first term in office, incumbent Betsy Markey, a Democrat, may be feeling the GOP crosshairs on her as she faces Republican challenger Cory Gardner in Colorado’s 4th U.S. House District.
Candidates for Colorado’s 4th U.S. Congressional District (two-year term)
(Encompasses Logan, Yuma, Kit Carson and Cheyenne counties. Major cities include Greeley and Fort Collins. Click here for a district map.)
Candidate: Betsy Markey
Political experience: In 1978, U.S. Rep. Herb Harris (D-Va.) hired Markey to work as a legislative aide for the Subcommittee on Post Office and Civil Service. After earning her master’s degree in public administration from American University in 1983, she worked as a budget and program analyst for the Treasury Department.
In 1984, Markey worked for the Office of Information Systems Security, a newly-formed division of the United States Department of State.
Announcing her candidacy for the U.S. Congress in 2007, Markey ran unopposed in the 2008 Democratic primary. In the 2008 general election, Markey defeated the incumbent, Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, 56 percent to 44 percent.
Professional experience: In 1986, Markey and her husband Jim Kelly founded Syscom Services, Inc., a Maryland-based firm that helps clients use computer technology and storage techniques more efficiently.
From 1995 to 2001, Markey also owned Huckleberry’s, an ice cream parlor and coffee shop in the Old Town section of Fort Collins. According to Markey’s LinkedIn profile, she sold the business for a profit in 2001.
Key issues: As a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, Markey promotes programs that aid Colorado’s farming communities. She supports initiatives such as the Young, Beginning and Small Farmers Program, which encourages young farmers and smaller operations to stay in business.
Markey also promotes renewable energy sources, indicating Colorado’s production of wind, solar and agricultural energy on her website.
On the topic of illegal immigration, Markey wants to work for a solution that keeps the borders strong and protects the interests of small-business owners.
Endorsements: Markey has secured key endorsements from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Political Action Committee.
Chances of maintaining her seat: The race is a toss-up. Going into the 2010 midterm election, Markey has a GOP target on her. Sarah Palin declared Colorado’s 4th District as one of 20 districts that Republicans need to take back this year. Palin gave her endorsement to Markey’s Republican challenger Cory Gardner.
Candidate: Cory Gardner
Political experience: From 2002 to 2005, Gardner served as general counsel and legislative director for U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.).
In 2005, a vacancy committee selected Gardner to fill a the empty seat left by Greg Brophy in the 63rd district in Colorado’s state house. Gardner has since maintained his seat and currently is the house Republican whip.
Professional experience: Born in Yuma, Colo., Gardner earned his law degree from the University of Colorado in 2001. After graduation, Gardner served as communications manager for the National Corn Growers’ Association from 2001 to 2002.
With his father, Gardner also runs Farmers Implement Co., Inc., a small business based in Yuma.
Key Issues: Agriculture is one of Gardner’s top issues going into the 2010 midterm election. A member of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Livestock Committee, Gardner says he wants to create new opportunities for Colorado’s farmers.
On his campaign website, Gardner also is a firm believer in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, earning an A+ rating from the NRA for his work in the Colorado State House.
Endorsements: As part of her effort to take back 20 districts from the Democrats, Gardner secured an endorsement from Palin. In 2008, Republican John McCain carried these districts in the presidential election, but the U.S. Seats all went to Democrats.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also endorses Gardner for Colorado’s 4th District.
Chances of unseating Betsy Markey: With Palin’s endorsement, Gardner has a good chance of unseating Markey, especially with his years of service in the Colorado legislature.
The endorsements of both candidates seem a little odd, though. Markey earned the NRA’s endorsement, even though Gardner received an A+ from the NRA. On the flip side, Gardner secured the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsement, despite that fact that the same organization applauded Markey for voting for economic recovery measures.
With this much flip-flopping, the 2010 race for Colorado’s 4th District could come down to the wire.
Key Differences between Betsy Markey and Cory Gardner
While Markey supports a woman’s right to have an abortion, challenger Gardner says he is pro-life and believes abortion should be illegal in all situations.
Gardner also opposes embryonic stem cell research and supports a state constitutional amendment that would define the term “person” as applying to the moment of conception. Markey takes the opposite position on these issues.
Colorado’s 4th U.S. Congressional District
Location: Bordering Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, the 4th Congressional District contains the cities of Lamar, Fort Morgan, Fort Collins, Loveland and Sterling.
2008 Results: Markey defeated the incumbent, Marilyn Musgrave, 56 percent to 44 percent.
Demographics: The 2006-2008 American Community Survey categorizes the 705,849 residents of Colorado’s 4th U.S. Congressional District as follows: 74.3 percent white, 12.3 percent black, 0.8 percent American Indian or Alaska native, 4.4 percent Asian, 0.1 percent Hawaiian or other Pacific islander.
The Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voter Index categorizes this district as R+6, indicating a moderately strong Republican lean.