Cardboard Cory lives on after not-cardboard Sen. Cory Gardner’s town halls

Cardboard Cory is a project of Indivisible Front Range Resistance. “He is our good guy. He shows up, and he is listening, and we treat him with respect.”

Kristen Seidel of Indivisible Denver couldn't bring Cardboard Cutout Cory Gardner inside the town hall because he violated the "no signs bigger than a sheet of paper" rule. Aug 15, 2017. (Erica Meltzer/Denverite)
Kristen Seidel of Indivisible Denver couldn't bring Cardboard Cutout Cory Gardner inside the town hall because he violated the "no signs bigger than a sheet of paper" rule. Aug 15, 2017. (Erica Meltzer/Denverite)
Kristen Seidel of Indivisible Denver couldn’t bring cardboard-cutout Cory Gardner inside the town hall because he violated the “no signs bigger than a sheet of paper” rule. Aug 15, 2017. (Erica Meltzer/Denverite)

There are six Cardboard Cories, and they maintain rigorous schedules meeting with constituents.

“We started it because our senator wasn’t showing up, wasn’t holding town halls,” said Kristen Seidel of Indivisible Denver. “We were sick of it.”

Each Cardboard Cory costs $107. Members of Indivisible Front Range Resistance take Cardboard Cory to various forums, let people ask their questions and tweet them at the senator.

After months of pressure, the real life Gardner faced his constituents Tuesday at events in Colorado Springs, Greeley and Lakewood. Seidel was forced to wait outside the Lakewood town hall at Colorado Christian University because Cardboard Cory is a “sign larger than a piece of paper.”

“We got a town hall, so I hope it made a difference,” Seidel said.

But do the real town halls defeat the purpose of Cardboard Cory?

“I think a lot of people are walking out of these town halls unsatisfied,” Seidel said. “He had it at 2:30 across town in the metro area. A lot of people could not come. So we are keeping his calendar and still taking him to the people.

“Three town halls is not really connecting with all of Coloradans after he has gone this long, over 480 days until today, without holding a town hall. He belittled his constituents for seven months,” she said.

And what should people make of all the yelling that greeted not-cardboard Cory Gardner?

“I get it. That feeds into their narrative. ‘Why should I hold it?’ And I understand that,” Seidel said. “At the same time, for seven months he hasn’t been listening, and he’s been criticizing us, and that really boils some blood. People are mad after that.  They’ve been ignored for a long time, and they’re mad, and they need to be heard. When you treat people the way you have, that’s what happens.”

In this regard, Seidel feels that Cardboard Cory can be instructive. He shows up all the time, and people treat him well (at the request of his guardians, at least).

“One of the rules of Cardboard Cory is we cannot feed their narratives,” Seidel said. “He is our good guy. He shows up, and he is listening, and we treat him with respect. I ask that nobody takes unsavoury pictures, nobody yell at him. We really just have genuine questions. The people of Colorado have genuine questions.”

Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, emeltzer@denverite.com or @meltzere.