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The Race for Senate: An interview with Senator Mark Udall

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The Race for Senate: An interview with Senator Mark Udall

markudallportrait2_300dpiThis is PULP’s second interview with Senator Mark Udall, the incumbent Senator running against Representative Cory Gardner. Our questions were designed to see how the candidates viewed Southern Colorado issues, the acrimony in Washington and their vision for America.

Sen. Mark Udall has served one term in the U.S. Senate and 10 years as a representative for Colorado’s 2nd district. He sits on the Senate Committee on Armed Forces, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

PULP: Congress’s approval rating has reached historic lows at least 12 times since 2010, and polls show divided control is likely the reason. As a Senator, how do you represent a state that, politically, is split down the middle?

Sen. Udall: As Coloradans, we demand that our leaders stand on principle but also work as rugged cooperators in order to get things done. That’s the spirit that guides my work every day as a U.S. senator. I stood on principle to lead the fight against NSA surveillance overreach and to respect our constitutional right to privacy. I also rolled up my sleeves and worked across the aisle to help secure over $700 million in emergency support to help our state recover from last year’s historic floods. That’s the way we get things done in Colorado, and I’ll continue to bring that unique spirit of strength and independence to everything I do as your senator.

PULP: How does Congress gain back America’s trust, especially when it seems to many citizens that bipartisanship is out of the question?

Sen. Udall: The obstruction and partisanship in Washington has reached an all-time high and it’s only made worse when folks refuse to cooperate. As a mountain climber, when I stand on top of one of Colorado’s Fourteeners, I don’t see a red state or a blue state–I see a Colorado that’s red, white, and blue. As Westerners, we don’t care what political party an idea comes from, we just want to know if it works. That’s why I’m proud to have worked with senators of both parties to ban wasteful earmarks and stand up for our privacy rights against overbroad NSA surveillance. No matter who’s president, or what party controls the Congress, I will continue to always put Colorado first.

PULP: What do you believe to be the biggest issue in this race for Senate?

Sen. Udall: Making sure our economy gives all families a fair shot at a secure middle class life is my number one priority in the U.S. Senate and is the focus of my campaign. That’s why I’m pushing to raise the minimum wage, pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to end wage discrimination against women, and make sure we protect the Social Security and Medicare benefits that Coloradans have earned through a lifetime of hard work. My opponent, Congressman Gardner, opposes all of these ideas and his radical agenda would undermine the very pillars of a strong and vibrant middle class. That’s just too extreme for Colorado.

PULP: You recently said at a Senate event that the vote you cast in the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill was the most important you’ve ever cast. Can you explain why?

Sen. Udall: America is better and stronger because of its immigrants. Yet our broken immigration system continues to undermine American businesses and tear apart families and communities. I am proud of my work to pass comprehensive immigration reform through the Senate but am frustrated that Tea Party radicals like my opponent continue to block the bill from even coming to a vote in the House. I will continue to push for the House to do its job and vote to pass comprehensive immigration reform that will strengthen families, boost the economy, shrink the deficit, and create jobs here in Colorado.

We also need to find a way to support the Americans who grew up in our communities after being brought into the United States by their parents–through no fault of their own. Young people who have contributed to our country should have the opportunity to fully contribute to our communities, economy and national security and eventually wait their turn to apply for citizenship. That’s why I support the DREAM Act. No child should be cast aside by the country she grew up in and calls home.

PULP: Southeastern Colorado is trailing behind the rest of the state in college graduation rates, job opportunities and household income. How are you going to focus on this portion of the state to reverse that?

Sen. Udall: Southeastern Colorado is blessed with some of the strongest, most vibrant communities in the state. Our businesses and workers thrive when they are given the chance to do well and that’s why I’ve fought to make college more affordable and invest in education and job training to ensure our workers are prepared to take advantage of the 21st century economy. My opponent takes the opposite view. He would slash the support that allows low-income students to afford college and voted to gut funding for teachers and essential reading and math programs.

PULP: When it comes down to urban areas of Colorado and rural areas, is there a method to serving both?

Sen. Udall: I’ve always worked to do right by Colorado and to make sure that all Coloradans–regardless of geography, family circumstances, or income — are able to live life on their own terms. No matter what part of Colorado we live in, we all want a fair shot at middle class security and to pass on a brighter future to our children.

That’s why I’ve pushed legislation that would help ensure equal pay for equal work and successfully passed a law to fight discrimination in the workplace. It’s also why I led the fight to support our homegrown wind energy industry here in Colorado by extending a key tax credit that supports thousands of jobs across the state. These aren’t rural issues or urban issues–they’re economic issues that affect Coloradans in every part of the state. That’s why I will continue to stand up for all Coloradans and make sure that all of us have the freedom to live life on our own terms.

PULP: You have urged Congress to invest in capital upgrades to long-distance train services that would help save the Southwest Chief. What can Coloradans expect to come from that push?

Sen. Udall: Railroads connect southern Colorado businesses and communities to the entire nation. That’s why I spoke out against proposals to reroute the popular Southwest Chief line and pushed Senate leaders to support critical upgrades to the rail line so that it can continue its service to the region. While our work is far from done, I won’t stop fighting to keep Colorado families and businesses connected to the broader world.

PULP: What was the most important action you made for Colorado in your first term as Senator?

Sen. Udall: Washington can use a good dose of Colorado common sense, and it’s that spirit of strength and optimism that I bring to my work every day on behalf of our state. That principle that guided my fight to end ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ rein in the NSA and stand up to those in my own party to defend our constitutional right to privacy. That spirit has also led my work to put aside partisan differences and do what’s right for Colorado, like when I led the successful push for more than $700 million in emergency support to help our state recover after last year’s record flood and fires.

I hold an unwavering belief in the promise of our state and our people, and I will always stand up for Colorado and our special way of life.

Our Interview with challenger Rep. Cory Gardner Udall / Gardner – What they said and didn’t say.

Kara Mason is PULP's news editor. She also the Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter president. Kara freelances for other regional publications, covering government, politics and the environment.

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May 25 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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