Gardner, CoryEven though he is but one of several Republicans vying to unseat Congresswoman Betsy Markey, Democrats are attacking Cory Gardner, an indication he’s viewed as the Republican Party’s frontrunner for the 2010 election. Among accusations by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Gardner, a state legislator, is guilty of “political opportunism” and “hypocrisy” because he plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming session making repeat drunken driving a felony. What’s wrong with that? As Westword writes, Dems are on the offensive because Gardner “previously voted against a drunk-driving bill in 2006 and sorta/kinda/in-a-way referred to such similar legislation the next year as ‘nanny bills.'” Mike Ciletti, Gardner’s campaign manager, dismisses the attack, saying the 2006 legislation was a Democratic “feel-good” measure, adding that Gardner “has always been tough on crime and has always been a strong advocate for stiffer penalties on drunk drivers.”

The Republican primary in the Fourth Congressional District is getting crowded, despite national GOP officials’ backing of Gardner, as well as Gardner’s enviable campaign coffers. Add Dean Madere, a self-described “average middle-class citizen,” to the list of candidates, writes Congressional Quarterly, which rates the overall race as a toss-up that could go to either Dems or the GOP. He joins financial adviser, military veteran, and Fort Collins City Councilman Diggs Brown and University of Colorado Regent Tom Lucero in the nomination hunt. Markey, the first Democrat to hold the Fourth District seat since 1973, has been careful to carve out a centrist path, voting, for example, against the House’s massive health-care-reform bill, citing, in part, opposition from many of her constituents. But she didn’t face reprisals for her vote from Democratic leaders in Congress, writes The Christian Science Monitor. Instead, she got a hug from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the floor.