Baumgardner was an unsuccessful candidate for U. S. Senate; the Republican primary was held on June 24, 2014.
Baumgardner was born in Bedford, Indiana in 1956. Baumgardner worked for the Colorado Department of Transportation for a decade before running for public office. He continues to own and operate a ranch with his wife, near Granby.
Baumgardner defeated Daniel L. Korkowski in the contested Republican primary in August, taking 67 percent of votes cast.
Baumgardner faced Democrat Todd Hagenbuch in the November 2008 general election. Baumgardner's candidacy was endorsed by the Denver Post, and he won election with 57 percent of the popular vote.
For the 2009 legislative session, Baumgardner was named to the House Education Committee and the House Transportation and Energy Committee. Citing concerns over water rights filings on the Western Slope, Baumgarder also sought a seat on the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee.
Baumgardner proposed legislation to redirect a portion of federal mineral lease revenues from local governments to state road and bridge projects for a period of ten years, The measure was criticized for altering recently negotiated revenue formulas, and was watered down in the House Agriculture Committee. Baumgardner also offered legislation to modify the permitting process for coal pollution mitigation operations, a measure which died in a House committee.
In 2010, Baumgardner co-sponsored SB10-033. This measure concerned a verification program of a worker’s eligibility in Colorado. SB10-033 was co-sponsored by Senator Schultheis. It was assigned to the State Senate, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee, where it was ultimately defeated.
In the 2010 election, Baumgardner ran for re-election. He faced no opposition in the primary election, but faced Steve Ivanice of the Democratic Party and Mike Kien of the Libertarian Party during the general election, before defeating both with 64% of the vote.
During the 2011 legislative session, Baumgardner focused on several important bills regarding illegal immigration and mining. A major piece of legislation he worked on was his efforts in trying to extend an income tax credit for alternative fuel refueling facilities. The bill was initially sent to the House committee on Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources, before being passed on to the House Finance committee, where it was laid over until the end of session.
In 2012, one of the major bills that Baumgardner sponsored was HB12-1160. This bill, co-sponsored by Senator Schwartz, focused on adding coal mine methane gas as an eligible energy resource under Colorado’s renewable energy portfolio. This bill was introduced into the House where it passed before being sent to the Senate. HB12-1160 also passed through its Senate committee, before being laid over daily through the end of session, therefore failing to pass.
Baumgardner decided to run for higher office by putting in his bid for the State Senate District 8 seat in 2012. He faced incumbent Jean White in the primary race, which the Denver Post described as "nasty". White was attacked by outside interest groups for her support for civil unions. Baumgardner was criticised for falling asleep during a House session and also faced revelations that an unregistered sex offender lived at his house and worked on his farm. Nevertheless, Baumgardner won the Republican nomination, taking 58% of the vote. White refused to endorse him, saying "I'll have a hard time supporting a dishonest man. The lies prevailed. His lies beat my truth. It shows that running an upright and honest campaign doesn't necessarily win the day. This is a man who lied to me. He lied about me. He lied about where he lives, what he does and how he votes." During the general election, Baumgardner defeated his Democratic opponent Emily Tracy with 51.1% of the vote.
Senator Baumgardner was elected to be the Majority Whip and appointed to serve on the Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee, Vice Chair of the Capital Development Committee, and Chair of the Transportation Committee. He also serves on the Colorado Tourism Board, Water Resources Review Committee, The Economic Vitality Caucus and Sportsmens' Caucus.
Senator Baumgardner is the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and the vice-chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee, as well as the Capitol Development Committee.
He used his expertise in these areas of policy in the 2017 Legislative Session in his sponsored bills. He ran Senate Bill 243 to continue the Motorcycle Operators Safety Training (MOST) program and House Bill 1105, which simplifies the vehicle registration system. Senate Bill 30 was an agricultural bill designed to make it easier for ranchers to administer anabolic steroid shots to their cattle.
Senator Baumgardner is a Rancher from the Western Slope of Colorado, so he knows firsthand how important agriculture and good transportation policy is to our State.