TUESDAY UPDATE: Lynn Bartels of the Denver paper has a useful update on proposed changes to Mike Coffman’s district. As we noted above, none of the Democratic maps move Coffman’s registered Aurora home out of CD-6; both of Republican Dave Balmer’s would do this. On the matter of voter registration, the Democratic map proposals create a CD-6 that would be very competitive, while all five Republican maps draw CD-6 with a strong GOP advantage.
The first round of redistricting maps have been released, and while none of the current maps are likely to end up as the final versions after votes, lawsuits, etc., there are some interesting common themes that can be gleaned from what we saw today.
The most obvious theme is that both Democrats and Republicans seem intent on screwing over Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. The makeup of Coffman’s current CD-6 district gives him a 2-to-1 Republican voter advantage and makes it all but impossible for him to lose re-election (or to even face a serious Democratic challenger, for that matter). But Coffman loses at least some of that advantage in all of the redistricting maps made available today.
The map proposed by Democrats moves CD-6 from the South Metro area (Douglas County, primarily) and turns it into a seat encompassing Adams and Arapahoe counties; we haven’t seen the voter breakdowns of the proposed maps yet, but judging from the district boundaries the new CD-6 would likely be a fairly competitive district.
The Republican-drawn maps are a bit kinder to Coffman, but they still add Democrats from mid- to northern-Jefferson County and Arapahoe County. Looking at the boundaries of that map, CD-6 would likely have a slight Republican edge but would absolutely not be overwhelmingly supportive for the GOP.
Coffman has been openly talking about challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in 2014, but if he doesn’t get re-elected to Congress in 2012, he can forget that idea; he’s been all but invisible during his first two terms in CD-6 thus far, and without a bully pulpit leading into 2014, he’ll face a serious uphill battle on name recognition alone.
Coffman has never been a favorite of Democrats, particularly during his meddling days as Secretary of State, but he’s also had a hard time finding his niche of support among Republicans. He tried to run for Governor in 2006 — a lifelong goal of his — but was quickly and embarrassingly shoved aside by Bob Beauprez. Coffman made a nice political recovery by winning a crowded GOP primary in CD-6 in 2008, and with few other options, he should be the figurative head of the Colorado Republican Party by now. He’s no figurehead now, and Republicans seem to have no problem throwing him under the bus during the redistricting process. It will be interesting to see over the next couple of months if Coffman has enough political juice to fight back.