Last Thursday and Friday marked an important milestone in the race for CD-6 when incumbent Congressman Mike Coffman joined challenger Andrew Romanoff for the first official debates between the two candidates. A few months from now, we may look back at August 14th and 15th as seminal moments – the first glimpse of the end of Coffman’s 25-year political career.
Coffman is facing what is without question the most difficult campaign in a career that began with his election as a State Representative in 1989. He has since been elected as a State Senator, State Treasurer, and Secretary of State prior to advancing to his current Congressional seat in 2008. Coffman has dispatched plenty of challengers as his political star ascended, but never has he faced an opponent the caliber of Romanoff – a charismatic, likable Democrat with strong name ID, serious policy chops, and an ability to raise massive amounts of money for his campaign.
Political pundits across the country consider CD-6 to be among the most competitive races anywhere in 2014, and when all of the checks have been written by supporters and interest groups, total spending should be in the staggering range of $25 million. Money, or a lack thereof, will not be the deciding factor in this race because each side will have no shortage of resources to draw upon. The outcome in CD-6 will be decided instead on other intangible qualities, and after last week’s debates, the countdown is unmistakably visible for Coffman.
In the first debate last Thursday, sponsored by the South Metro Chamber of Commerce (now available online at DenverPost.com/electionshow), Coffman appeared irritable and unsteady next to the more confident and affable Romanoff. But it wasn’t until the next morning, at a debate in Aurora sponsored by the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, in which Coffman…cracked.
Check out Coffman’s angry response below to a challenge from Romanoff that is virtually identical from the same point made one day earlier. Instead of brushing off Romanoff’s challenge to stop accepting PAC money, Coffman explodes:
Now take a look (after the jump) at this clip from the end of the debate. Coffman scrambles to gather his papers and exit the stage, moving quickly as if his car were being towed outside. This is not the image of a man who feels confident about his position in this campaign.
Should Coffman end up losing his seat in November, it won’t be because of his performance at these debates – that’s not the point we’re trying to make here. What we are saying is that last week's debates may prove to be the seminal moment in which Colorado politicos saw the end of the line for Coffman. Countdown Coffman has begun.