With President Trump’s approval rating as low as it is, republicans have been losing seats in congress. Most notably was the Alabama senatorial seat that was filled by Democrat Doug Jones.
Now that Jeff Sessions has decided to allow federal prosecutors to go after state legal marijuana businesses, other republicans feel as though their seats are in jeopardy for the next election. In particular, the republican senator in cannabis friendly Colorado, Cory Gardner, is scrambling to solidify his position by threatening not to nominate Justice Department candidates.
This explains why most elected Republicans in places that are directly impacted moved swiftly to distance themselves. For example, Trump lost by nine points in the suburban Denver district represented by Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., making him one of the most endangered House Republicans on the ballot this November. “Attorney General Sessions needs to read the Commerce Clause found in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution that limits the power of the federal government to regulate interstate and not intrastate commerce,” Coffman said in a statement. “The decision that was made to legalize marijuana in Colorado was made by the voters of Colorado and only applies within the boundaries of our state. Colorado had every right to legalize marijuana and I will do everything I can to protect that right against the power of an overreaching federal government.”
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, R, up for reelection this fall in a state Trump lost by 27 points, said he “fully supports the will of the voters” vis-à-vis marijuana. “The administration believes this is the wrong decision and will review any potential impacts from any policy changes by the local U.S. Attorney’s Office,” a spokesperson said.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., perhaps the most vulnerable Republican incumbent up for reelection in 2020, threatened to put a hold on all of Trump’s nominees for the Justice Department over the new directive. “This is about a decision by the state of Colorado, and we were told states’ rights would be protected,” he said in a fiery floor speech. “One tweet later, one policy later ― a complete reversal of what many of us on the Hill were told before the confirmation. Without any notification, conversation or dialogue with Congress, completely reversed!”
The senator’s threat is meaningful, and he has lots of leverage, because there are still no confirmed assistant attorneys general for the national security, criminal and civil rights divisions. Of the 93 U.S. attorney slots nationwide, Trump has nominated 58 and only 46 have been confirmed by the Senate.
Voter approval for marijuana legalization is much higher than the president’s approval rating. Do you think republicans can afford to anger marijuana advocates?
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