Search Results for: coffman

Coffman Admits to Using Proposed Camping Ban To Elect Conservative Allies to Council

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman pretending to be homeless.

If only Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman’s proposed ban on camping in Aurora, as well as his week pretending to be homeless for a local news story, could be written off solely as a way to get his face on TV.

But it’s so much worse.

Coffman is brazenly using some of the most vulnerable people in our midst to make himself more powerful – to elect a majority of conservative allies to Aurora’s City Council.

It’s not a secret. Reporters have called him out on it. He explains the political strategy openly on right-wing radio.

Asked by a salivating radio host if he was “going to make it a big election issue, as big as you can,” Coffman replied with a stern, “Oh yeah.”

“Let me tell you, I think that I will have a Council that will pass this after this election, if not in June, by the weight of the pressure that comes down on council members,” Coffman told KHOW’s Ross Kaminsky May 21. “But definitely after November.”

He added that the camping-ban issue will serve as a “referendum,” turning council candidates who oppose it into losers.

You wish you could say Coffman is the actual loser, and leave it there.

But camping bans are politically popular, even in cities like Denver with large majorities of Democratic voters.

So the twisted situation looks like this: Everyone who’s studied homelessness knows a camping ban won’t work. But Coffman’s political strategy of using the ban to flip the Council might actually succeed.

And anything that might help Coffman’s conservative posse win in bluing Aurora is worth a try, the mayor must figure.

9News put this into focus with figures showing that camping bans in the metro area don’t work.

“If this isn’t about something that may immediately become law or ordinance in Aurora, could it possibly just be a red meat campaign issue while city council elections go on there?” asked 9News Anchor Kyle Clark on air May 21. “Yeah,” answered 9News reporter Marshall Zelinger, who compiled the information, pointing out that Council elections are in November.

Great. Ride the camping ban to victory in Aurora’s upcoming city council election.

And trample the people on the streets on your way in. The powerless people struggling with poverty, mental illness, drug addiction, fear, hopelessness.

Coffman wants a camping ban to make life even worse for them and better for him, giving the mayor the power to pass a conservative agenda on issues going way beyond homelessness.

Let’s hope it doesn’t work.

But it’s bad enough to picture Coffman sitting in a room somewhere, with fellow Republican operatives, mapping out a power-grab strategy of using the “Homeless Mike” stunt, the camping ban proposal, and the city council process, all of it ending with November’s election.

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Coffman Admits He Didn’t Stay at Aurora Homeless Encampments

(The weekend being homeless didn’t turn out like you planned – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman pretending to be homeless.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman says you should believe him when it comes to homelessness because he spent a week on the streets last year, as seen in a local TV story.

Coffman said his experience in homeless shelters and in on-the-street encampments made him able to “better understand the issue, and not from what people are telling elected officials, but to actually be there with the individuals experiencing homelessness, to be able to to talk with them, to understand their issues.”

But Coffman didn’t stay in any of the encampments in his hometown of Aurora, only in Denver.

In a bizarre admission on a Denver radio show, Coffman said homelessness is a really complicated issue, and he “can’t speak” to the issues at the encampments in Aurora, only Denver.

“This is really [based on] just seeing encampments in downtown Denver, larger encampments in downtown Denver,” Coffman told KNUS’ Jimmy Sengenberger May 22. “This is not the encampments in Aurora. I didn’t stay in them. I can’t really speak to them.”

But Coffman is running to any microphone that will take him, saying the people in homeless encampments are largely there by choice and Aurora needs a camping ban to solve the problem. (Never mind that such bans are known to fail.)

RELATED: The Absurdity and Heartlessness of Coffman’s Camping Ban Is Seen in His Admission that Homeless People Will Simply Move Around Aurora.

So why in the world did Aurora Mayor Coffman decide to pretend to be homeless in Denver, not Aurora?

“Mayor Hancock had reached out to me and said, ‘Let’s work together on dealing with this housing issue.’ And so fine, of course, I didn’t tell him I was doing this. So I wanted to understand Denver and Aurora,” Coffman told Sengenberger.

But why not venture up to Aurora as well, if he wanted to understand both, given that he’s now left saying he can’t speak to what’s going on in Aurora?

Coffman doesn’t return my calls, so I’m forced to speculate here.

Perhaps he felt the Aurora encampments were more dangerous?

Maybe he was advised that they wouldn’t confirm his ideological view that homelessness is a choice and the encampments are full of drug addicts and others who don’t want to go to shelters or to change their lives.

Or how about this. We know Coffman’s week-long undercover foray as a homeless veteran was essentially a PR stunt, which he conducted with a local CBS TV reporter tracking him for a story headlined “Homeless Mike.”

CBS4’s studios at 10th and Lincoln are just blocks from the Denver encampments Coffman joined, where people brought so much good food it was bad for “weight control,” he says.

The CBS4 camera operators would have had to drive 20 minutes or more to get to Aurora–and that’s an eternity in the local TV news business, especially if there’d been a storm on the horizon.

Okay, maybe it’s far-fetched to conclude that Coffman decided against sleeping on the streets of Aurora so that he could be near a Denver TV station.

But that such a disgraceful explanation is possible at all speaks to the fact that Coffman’s proposed camping ban — and his Homeless Mike escapade — have so little to do with helping homeless people and so much to do with P.R. for Coffman himself. 

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Coffman Mocks Kyle Clark’s Hair But Can’t Refute His Facts

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mayor Mike Coffman (R-Aurora).

On a KNUS radio show Saturday, host Jimmy Sengenberger aired a report by 9News Anchor Kyle Clark about Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman’s proposed camping ban.

“It’s tough to find anyone who would call Denver’s homeless camping ban a success outside of the people who are paid to convince you of that,” said Clark in the clip from his May 20 Next show, which also included figures from 9News reporter Marshall Zelinger showing that camping bans in the metro area (Denver, Boulder, Centennial, Parker) have pretty much been a failure.

“Yet, Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman is introducing a similar camping ban for his city tonight,” continued Clark. “His conclusion, after a week of pretending to be homeless for a TV news story, was that homelessness is a choice.”

Coffman was a guest on the radio show, and after hearing the 9News clip, Coffman responded with:

“I wish Kyle Clark would do the same thing [pretending to be homeless],” Coffman told Sengenberger. “But I doubt that will ever happen. It would probably mess up his hair. But I think doing that was an extraordinary experience.”

In the ensuing radio discussion, Coffman addressed Clark’s assertion that the camping ban in Denver has been a failure.

Coffman first acknowledged that the homeless encampments are much worse in Denver than in Aurora.

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Coffman: Under Camping Ban, Homeless People Will Simply Move Around Aurora

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mayor Mike Coffman (R-Aurora).

Right-wing radio host Dan Caplis got to the heart of the matter last week when he asked Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman what happens if homeless people ignore Coffman’s proposed camping ban and don’t relocate to Coffman’s “designated area.”

“Where does that end,” asked Caplis on his KHOW show May 19.

After a brief pause Coffman replied, “Well, that’s problematic because, you know–you know–what they’ll do is displace and go somewhere else in the city, and we’ll have to clean up that area.”

What a brilliant way for Aurora to spend its tax money!

“Clean up that area” and then “Clean up that area” and then “Clean up that area” and so on and so on and so on.

Yet, Coffman belittles “so-called homeless advocates” for asking about the cost of the camping ban and for saying it’s not the solution.

On the radio, Coffman flat-out dismisses experts who say homeless people need housing first. It doesn’t matter that there’s study after study backing this up.

And homeless people, whose backgrounds and needs vary widely, also need a web of other support to stabilize and get off the streets.

As the interview continues, it becomes clear that it’s not just the encampments that bother Coffman but the homeless people themselves.

He wants to deny them services and hope they are “going to discover” that “Aurora, Colorado, is not the best place for them to be,” said Coffman on air, without citing evidence.

“They will find,” Coffman said, broke into a laugh, and restarted his sentence.

“They will find another community that will greet them with open arms and says, ‘Hey, listen, we’ll provide all these services, and we’ll require nothing of you. And you can, you know, live off the taxpayers.'”

Talking to Caplis, Coffman sounds like the right-wing congressman he’s still best known for being. The one who wanted to stop low-income women from getting cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood in Aurora. The one who called Obamacare “very radical.” The one who endorsed Tom Tancredo for governor of Colorado.

The one you’d expect not to care much about people in Aurora who are homeless.

Coffman is clearly unconcerned about a cooperative Denver Metro solution to homelessness, but he’s working with Bandimere Speedway, well-known for its conservative alliances, to address another front range problem.

“I’ll be working with Bandimere Speedway to come up with a plan that would involve all cities in the metro area” to attract “street racing enthusiasts to race their vehicles at Bandimere Speedway instead of city streets,” wrote Coffman in a recent Facebook post.

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Mayor Coffman’s New Groove: Packing Aurora City Council

Mayor Mike Coffman (R-Aurora).

The Aurora Sentinel reports on fresh intrigue in that city’s politics under Mayor Mike Coffman, the former Republican Congressman plotting his next political moves–and getting help from old friends to help…well, old friends:

Mayor Mike Coffman has filed a lawsuit against Aurora and the city clerk, aiming to reverse recently enacted campaign finance rules…

“That new law prohibits Mayor Coffman (and others like him) from doing anything effective to campaign for another candidate or in support of a ballot issue. In essence, it unconstitutionally restricts the rights to free speech and association for both candidates in the current election cycle and others who could potentially run in some future election,” the lawsuit says of the rules.

The nine-page complaint was penned on Coffman’s behalf by attorney Dan Burrows, who is affiliated with the Lakewood-based Public Trust Institute, a conservative non-profit group “created to uphold our state’s constitution and defend the principles of individual freedom and personal responsibility on which Colorado was founded,” according to the group’s website. The suit was filed in Arapahoe County District Court shortly before 10 a.m. March 17, a clerk confirmed.

In short, Mayor Mike Coffman is pre-emptively filing suit against the city’s new campaign finance regulations with the help of the right-wing Public Trust Institute, the “ethics group” formed by former Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty to wage politically expedient legal campaigns against Democrats. The city of Aurora’s newest campaign finance regulations reportedly disallow candidates from fundraising for each other. And that’s a big problem for Mayor Mike, because:

Coffman says in the lawsuit that he already supports a candidate in the 2021 city council race and wants to help funnel money into the person’s campaign.

He told the Sentinel that candidate is Dustin Zvonek. He’s a candidate for an at-large seat who was Coffman’s spokesperson and aide when he represented the 6th Congressional district in Congress. [Pols emphasis]

You read that right! Coffman is looking to help elect his own former congressional aide and campaign manager, Dustin Zvonek, to the Aurora City Council. Obviously, a councilmember Mayor Coffman is accustomed to giving orders to would be great for Coffman’s problems getting the city council to do his bidding! The best analogy we can think of is Josef Stalin demanding the Ukrainian and Belorussian SSRs get seats in the United Nations in 1946 as if they were separate countries, which they most assuredly were not at the time.

There’s nothing illegal about a known partisan political legal hit squad filing suit on Coffman’s behalf, or even in Coffman trying to install a subordinate employee on the City Council. We’ll have to see what the court says about the merits of Coffman’s case, though the irony of the GOP’s “ethics in government group” suing on the side of “dark money” and pro-crony collusion makes for a messy political situation to say the least. However the court case works out, too much press about Coffman pushing his waterboy for city council might make the question academic for Aurora’s voters.

Mayor Mike Coffman’s Interesting COVID Advice: Dine Out!

As government entities large and small across the globe respond to the widening COVID-19 outbreak, urging and in many cases forcing public gatherings to a halt in an effort to “flatten the curve” of disease transmission beneath the capacity of public health systems to cope at any one time, former GOP Congressman and Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman has a rather different bit of advice for his constituents: get out there and enjoy some local dining!

This advice appears to run diametrically counter to the agreed upon best practices for preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Governors in other states including Illinois and Ohio are reportedly considering an order to close bars and restaurants. Yesterday, Gov. Jared Polis ordered ski resorts in Colorado closed for one week. Currently the state is asking all gatherings over 250 people be cancelled–a figure admittedly larger than the capacity of small restaurants Coffman wants to “help.”

Were it not for the fact that small businesses including restaurants really are suffering right now, and face an unpredictable future as the pandemic continues to grow, our condemnation of what looks like cavalier disregard for public health by the Mayor of Aurora would have no caveats whatsoever. All things considered, well-intentioned but seriously misguided is how this recommendation from “Mayor Mike” to get out there and dine local is most likely to be judged–and that’s presuming the best.

At worst, Mike Coffman just prioritized making money over public health. And that’s…well, it’s Trumpian.

Mike Coffman, Ironic Impeachment Tourist


Politico reporter Connor O’Brien caught sight of a familiar face at the U.S. Capitol in Washington today:

We’re not sure if this is ex-Rep. now Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman’s first trip back to D.C. since his double-digit loss to Rep. Jason Crow in the 2018 elections–it probably isn’t–but this year’s U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting couldn’t have come at a more ironic moment for Coffman as Crow basks in the national limelight serving as an impeachment manager in the trial of President Donald Trump. Coffman, who campaigned in both 2016 and 2018 on a platform of strained ambivalence toward Trump to triangulate off his own party’s brand, enjoys lifetime access to the floor of the U.S. House as a former member.

But it’s not surprising to spot him on the Senate side where there’s still a GOP majority to hobnob with, and of course that’s where all the action is this week anyway! If Coffman wants to make more of this trip than a bittersweet nostalgia tour, one way to do that would be to join his successor in calling for Trump’s removal from office. It would also help demonstrate, at least in hindsight, that Coffman’s affected disdain for Trump while trying to keep his seat was authentic.

Fat chance, we know.

Mike Coffman’s “Comeback” Marred By Frazier Lifeline

Ex-Rep. Mike Coffman.

CBS4 Denver reports, as of this moment we still don’t technically know the winner of the extremely close race to be the next Mayor of the city of Aurora, coming down to just a few hundred votes with lots of procedural finger-pointing–and enough ballots waiting to be “cured” to at least hypothetically swing a race in which former GOP Congressman Mike Coffman holds the narrowest of leads:

People living in Aurora still don’t know who will be their next mayor. Even though Tuesday was Election Day, there is still some confusion with the ballots…

The difference is 281 votes. On Friday, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold tweeted about 828 replacement ballots that remain in question. Griswold blamed the U.S. Postal Service.

“The bottom line is that the Post Office understood that they had a problem on Election Day. They called all their carriers to come back for an emergency, pickup these ballots and send them out, but they failed to notify us,” said Griswold.

The race between Coffman and progressive challenger Omar Montgomery became a national proxy fight over gun violence after national gun-safety groups weighed in against Coffman, casting his longstanding support from the National Rifle Association as out of step with a city trying to heal from tragedies including the July 2012 mass shooting at Aurora’s Century Theater. Despite Coffman’s double-digit drubbing at the polls in 2018 when he lost the congressional seat that represents the city after years of splitting tickets in a Democratic-leaning district, most political observers have considered Coffman to be the favorite in the Aurora mayoral race based on sheer name recognition.

But the razor-thin margin between Coffman and Montgomery in this race doesn’t tell the whole story. Ryan Frazier, the former Republican congressional and U.S. Senate candidate among other failed runs for office, who (not that anyone really cares) changed his affiliation to independent earlier this year, and received nearly 12,000 votes in the mayoral race, appears to have played a decisive role in spoiling what would have otherwise have been a comfortable win for Omar Montgomery. Frazier served on the Aurora City Council until 2011, but had in fact moved away from the state eschewing politics before coming back to launch this longshot bid to be Mayor.

Given the results, some more conspiracy-minded readers might even suspect that Coffman and Frazier were working together to ensure the opposition to Coffman was fractured. We ourselves try not to attribute to treachery what can be explained by incompetence, as the saying goes, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary we’re willing to go along with the more likely scenario that Mike Coffman is simply the beneficiary of Ryan Frazier’s endless supply of hubris.

Depending on the final count and the available ballots left to “cure,” Coffman may get lucky. But anyone hoping for a “Coffman Comeback” narrative coming out of this election should be aware that luck is not synonymous with strength–and whatever the result, the real story of the 2019 Aurora mayoral election is that Coffman is weaker than conventional wisdom held.

The NRA Comes Back To Bite Mike Coffman

A press release from national pro-gun safety Giffords PAC announces an unusual foray by the organization into a municipal race–that is, the mayoral race in Aurora, Colorado:

Giffords PAC announced a new $50,000 ad campaign supporting gun safety champion Omar Montgomery in the Aurora mayoral race against Mike Coffman, long in the pocket of the gun lobby. Launched today, “Mike Coffman: NRA’s Yes Man” contrasts the voting record of former National Rifle Association (NRA) A-rated Congressman Mike Coffman with Omar Montgomery, a gun violence survivor who is prepared to address this public safety threat.

“When the candidates for mayor of Aurora include a gun violence survivor with a strong commitment to his community and an NRA ally trying to claw his way back into power, voters must know the stakes,” said Joanna Belanger, political director at Giffords. “Coloradans kicked Mike Coffman out of Washington in 2018, yet he’s resurfaced to try a comeback in Aurora. We won’t stand for it, and we’re proud to support a strong leader like Omar Montgomery. As Election Day nears, these ads will send a clear message to voters that the choice for mayor is simple: a committed public servant who cares about the safety of his community, or a failed politician with NRA cash in the bank.”

…Former Congressman Mike Coffman is a longtime NRA ally who has staunchly refused to take any action to stop America’s gun violence epidemic. While in Congress, Coffman enthusiastically backed NRA-supported bills like concealed carry reciprocity, loosening restrictions on interstate gun sales, and a bill legitimizing hunting and shooting on federal lands. In 2018, Giffords PAC spent nearly $1.5 million in opposition to Coffman’s reelection.

Former Rep. Mike Coffman’s campaign for mayor of Aurora is built on his long, long record as an elected official going all the way back to his election to the Colorado House in 1988. Unfortunately for Coffman, his longstanding support for (and support from) the National Rifle Association (NRA) now works against Coffman in a city whose name has become synonymous with mass gun violence after the July 2012 shooting at the Aurora Town Center’s Century Theater. Coffman’s “A” rating from the NRA was more of a liability for Coffman in 2018 than ever before as opponent Jason Crow prosecuted the issue hard on the campaign trail–and contributed to the breakdown of ticket-splitting in Democratic-leaning CD-6 that had saved Coffman in previous years.

Coffman is considered a favorite to win the election for Mayor of Aurora, based heavily on his very high name ID. Given that Coffman has been in elected office for just about all of the past three decades, drawing a political paycheck is how he pays the bills. But if the mayoral race becomes a referendum on the larger national debate over gun safety, the same vulnerability that helped end Coffman’s congressional career could keep him from winning this race, too.

Coffman and Gardner Don’t Like Red Flag Laws, But Don’t Rule Out Backing One Anyway

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) and ex-Rep. Mike Coffman.

Former Congressman Mike Coffman, who’s now running to be mayor of Aurora, and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) sound like they are opposed to a red flag law, but if you listen carefully, you’ll hear that neither is shutting the door completely on the policy, which would allow judges to order the confiscation of guns from dangerous people. 

Both don’t like Colorado’s red-flag law, in particular, with Coffman saying it’s, “wide open to abuse.”

Speaking on conservative radio this month, Coffman went on to “question the constitutionality of a federal mandate on a red flag law,” stating that if it were “constitutional under the Commerce Clause, then I think it would be horribly done. I mean, it would be done by federal law enforcement, federal courts  — the last thing we want.”

Still, Coffman left the door open for an acceptable red flag bill.

“The Cato Institute has done great work in terms of what due process ought to look like, in terms of making sure that you protect the rights of the individual, protect the Second Amendment,” said Coffman on air. “I think it can be done.”

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Coffman vs. Frazier For Aurora Mayor–Please Clap!

The Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason reports on what’s shaping up to be an epic contest between two battle-hardened Republican politicians, stepping up to reach for the prize of serving as the Mayor of Aurora…

Actually it’s just Mike Coffman, recently ousted from his seat in Congress versus Ryan Frazier, one of the state’s losing-est perennial also-ran Republican candidates:

Frazier, who served two consecutive terms as an at-large city council member for Aurora in the early 2000s and made a run for U.S. Senate in 2016 and for for the 7th Congressional District against Congressman Ed Perlmutter in 2010, is back at it, hoping to secure the chief city lawmaker position this year. He ran for mayor in 2011, losing by seven percentage points to former Mayor Steve Hogan, who died last year.

The Aurora politician, who owns his own consulting firm, kicked off his campaign Saturday at Bethel Eritrean Church with a room full of supporters who cheered when Frazier talked about “Aurora on the rise,” the candidate’s campaign slogan.

For ex-Rep. Coffman, serving as Mayor of a Denver suburb cannot reasonably be considered an advancement of his career. The best analogy we have is former Rep. Scott McInnis, whose dreams of being governor of Colorado were dashed in a plagiarism scandal, finding a second life in the much-diminished but still elected position of Mesa County Commissioner.

As for Ryan Frazier? Sure, serving as Mayor of Aurora would be a step up–if not in aspirations as a former congressional and U.S. Senate candidate, then in practical effect since Frazier never came close to winning any of those higher offices. It remains our considered opinion that Coffman is more damaged as a candidate for any office within the congressional district he just lost by double digits than conventional wisdom seems to indicate. On the other hand, Frazier has always come across as a politician in search of a constituency instead of a leader in his own right.

Who would win this matchup of mediocrity? If you have the inclination to ponder, we’re all ears.

So Mike Coffman Wants To Be Aurora’s Mayor, Does He?

Ex-Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

The Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason makes official what’s been water-cooler discussion for some weeks now–Mike Coffman, fresh off his double-digit defeat in last year’s CD-6 race, is planning a run for Mayor of the City of Aurora:

Former Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman is in the race for Aurora mayor, the longtime Aurora resident’s spokeswoman confirmed to the Sentinel on Thursday. 

“I’m running because I know that I can bring my leadership, experience, and knowledge to the City of Aurora to address the challenges of affordable housing, transportation, and public safety,” Coffman said in a statement about his candidacy…

Coffman, who lost to Democrat Rep. Jason Crow in November, has been suspected of eyeing the seat, currently held by Mayor Bob LeGare. LeGare was appointed by city council members to be mayor when former Mayor Steve Hogan died last year.

LeGare said during the appointment process he would not run for the seat. 

As we’ve recounted in this space many times before and since his belated comeuppance last year, Rep. Mike Coffman started out as a hard-right Republican in the mold of his predecessor in Congress, notoriously anti-immigrant former VDARE board member Rep. Tom Tancredo. In 2011, Coffman’s district was redrawn to exclude arch-conservative southern Denver exurbs and include the urban and diverse heart of Aurora.

Redistricting and a near-defeat in 2012 forced Coffman to scramble to reinvent his Tancredo-style image, paying frequent lip service to a new moderate position on immigration while steadfastly supporting the GOP leadership in Congress who ensured no actual immigration reform would take place. After Donald Trump became President, Coffman attempted to triangulate off Trump’s controversial image–but in the end was forced into the party line on enough high-profile issues like the 2017 tax cut bill that his long streak of defying the district’s propensity to elect Democrats was ended by now-Rep. Jason Crow.

After his defeat last November, Coffman cast lame-duck votes that are certain to haunt him in any future bid for votes from the same constituents who just threw him out of office. Coffman voted against the Farm Bill, complaining that it didn’t go far enough to impose work requirements on food stamp recipients, and then voted for the funding bill that included Trump’s $5.7 billion in wall funding–a failed vote that led directly to the longest government shutdown in American history. These votes set back Coffman’s image reinvention considerably, widely interpreted as his true colors shining through with the pressure off.

In short, sure–Coffman has name recognition. But along with that name ID comes a hefty load of baggage from his decades-long political career, and especially events leading up to his crushing defeat at the hands of the same voters who would elect him Aurora Mayor. The liabilities that finally caught up with Coffman in 2018 have not gone away. And before anyone declares Coffman a favorite for Mayor of the most economically and culturally diverse city in Colorado, he has a great deal to answer for.

Of Course Coffman’s Gonna Help Build The Wall

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

With the impasse over President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion in funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border having resulted in a partial shutdown of the federal government over the Christmas holiday and potentially beyond, let’s take a few minutes to discuss the vote of lame-duck GOP Rep. Mike Coffman to give Trump his wall funding–in particular what it says about Coffman’s career in the U.S. House and his defeat this November.

Mike Coffman was originally elected to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Tancredo in Colorado’s CD-6. At this time, CD-6 was an extremely safe Republican seat representing the southern Denver suburbs and conservative Douglas County, a district not just untroubled but supportive of the anti-immigrant hard line politics that remain Tancredo’s calling card. Tancredo may have been persona non grata in the Bush White House, but he developed a base of support that he leveraged into a vanity campaign for President that further raised Tancredo’s name ID.

Succeeding Tancredo, Coffman originally strained to present as fierce an anti-immigrant image as his predecessor, telling immigrant voters to “pull out a dictionary” and claiming “the DREAM Act will be a nightmare for the American people.” Coffman had fought a nasty primary to win his seat, and in this district had an obligation to show the flag with vigor to stave off another in 2010.

All of this changed in 2011, when the redistricting process transformed CD-6 from Tom Tancredo’s stronghold into a district comprised of almost 20% Latino voters. CD-6 never again voted for a Republican candidate in presidential races, and was in fact carried in 2016 by Hillary Clinton by a substantial margin. In 2012, Coffman barely survived re-election against an underfunded Democratic challenger, a lucky break given him by Democrats who were slow to capitalize on the opportunity.

After 2012, Coffman set to work remaking his image on immigration. He did this primarily through paying lip service to accommodating the children of immigrants who arrived here with no agency in the decision to migrate, the same DREAMers he had previously maligned. With Republicans in control under a Democratic President, gridlock on immigration along with basically everything else ensued, and when Coffman thumbed his nose at the Senate’s 2013 attempt at immigration reform it somehow didn’t undermine his new credentials with the local media as a “moderate on immigration.”

Because for all the credit Coffman received for not being part of the problem on immigration, his actual policy proposals never matched up. Coffman’s centerpiece legislation to give undocumented immigrants who serve in the military legal status was a niche bill that wouldn’t solve most of the problem, and Coffman’s support for a “clean” DREAM Act, after opposing President Obama’s DACA program for years, came far too late to make a difference. Beyond that, Coffman simply hid behind the gridlock caused by Republican leadership he voted for.

This year, Coffman’s unlikely run of victories in a district that elected Democrats above and below him on the ballot came to an end. Donald Trump’s presidency exposed Coffman’s triangulation strategy as fraudulent, when Coffman was forced to toe the pro-Trump line to appease his own base while simultaneously trying to maintain a facade of “moderation” for the swing voters he needed to overcome the district’s natural propensity to elect Democrats. It’s didn’t work, and Coffman lost by the margin he arguably could have lost by in 2012, 2014, or 2016.

And so this week, when defeated Rep. Coffman voted to build Trump’s wall, all he did was dispense with a pretense that had outlived its usefulness. To the reporters he tricked into validating credentials on immigration Coffman did not deserve, and the pro-immigrant activists and Democratic lawmakers who he likewise used for undeserved cover, it’s a final round of insulting confirmation of the long con game Coffman played to their and the voting public’s detriment.

But there is one consolation. It’s just about over.

Coffman Kicks The Poor On His Way Out The Door

Outgoing Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

The Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy reports on final passage last week of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, known in the vernacular as the “farm bill” to set a wide variety of food production and access policies for the next five years–a bill that Rep. Ken Buck, who represents the agribusiness-heavy Eastern Plains of Colorado, voted against:

Ken Buck this past week had his first opportunity to support farmers in the Fourth Congressional District via a final farm bill vote. His “no” vote in the U.S. House of Representatives had some farm advocates scratching their heads, even if they’re still celebrating a landslide victory for the bill…

Buck defended his vote by pointing to the increase in food stamp recipients during the Great Recession, arguing that millions of people who came onto the rolls “got used to food stamps.”

“That’s what we were trying to address,” Buck said. “Those people who got used to food stamps, how do we get them back into the employment world?”

For all of his time in office, Rep. Ken Buck has been reliably frank in his positions–even when they’re politically unpleasant. But left unsaid in Buck’s call for the “takers” of America to put some “skin in the game” in exchange for food stamps is the fact that there are already such requirements in place. Since the last big push for “welfare reform” in 1996, able-bodied food stamp beneficiaries have been limited to three months of benefits every three years without qualifying work, job training, or volunteer service. The GOP’s now-scrapped proposal to increase those work requirements would have directly resulted in 1.2 million fewer Americans every month getting food stamps.

Which is great if you’ve got Buck’s “makers vs. takers” mentality, not so much if you’re, you know, hungry.

But again, Buck is a very predictable Scrooge-y case of ideological lack of sympathy, representing an overwhelmingly conservative district unlikely to ever penalize him for it. But another Colorado vote against the farm bill justified by the same insulting “tough love” approach to food stamp recipients, might surprise some of our readers–the Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason:

“I voted for the initial version of this bill, which passed the House of Representatives back in June, largely because it included some significant and important reforms to the food stamp program,” Coffman, who represents mostly suburban Aurora outside of Denver, said in an email to constituents.

“Specifically, it required able-bodied, working-aged individuals who are not the primary caregiver for minor dependent children, either to find some work (part-time or full-time), participate in a job training program, or volunteer with an approved non-profit to remain eligible for SNAP assistance.”

Coffman said the most important part of the Farm Bill was the SNAP program and couldn’t support it without the reforms. [Pols emphasis]

Of course, if you’re familiar with Rep. Mike Coffman’s long record in office–especially before his congressional district was redrawn in 2011 into a diverse swing seat–Coffman’s extolment of the “dignity and and improved self-esteem that comes from work” to undercut food stamp beneficiaries isn’t much of a surprise. This is the same Mike Coffman, after all, who called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and once declared himself “a proud member of the ‘Party of No.'” Mike Coffman tried hard and spent big to reinvent his image into “a different kind of Republican,” and it worked all the way up until November of 2018.

In the final days of Mike Coffman’s political career, there’s at last no reason to hide his true colors.

Gardner Praises Trump For Election Wins, While Coffman Slams The Prez For GOP Losses, Including His Own

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) and Rep. Mike Coffman.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) blamed Trump today for Coffman’s election loss last week, just as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner jumped on the radio to credit the president for GOP wins in key senate races.

Coffman told Vox today:

“I believe, quite frankly, that the president had a strategy of focusing on the Senate at the expense of the House,” [Coffman] said. “That the map had it where that there were red states that Trump carried that had competitive Senate races and what he did was made the midterm a national election and about him….”

“The president’s tone is polarizing,” Coffman said. “It was very difficult to try and make the case, particularly to suburban, college-educated women who were so upset with the president, to vote for me when they felt there needed to be a greater check on President Trump…”

Coffman says he doesn’t see Republicans regaining any territory in the House.

“Good. Luck,” he said, laughing.

Contrast Coffman’s dark view of Trump with Gardner’s sunbeam comments about the president working his tail off for winning GOP senate candidates:

“We bucked history,” Gardner said on KNUS’ Caplis and Kafer Show last week, repeating his previous assertion that “I don’t think it was a blue wave” in Colorado. “…So, you know, the keeping of the majority in the midterm, I think, is historic. And President Trump went out and worked his tail off in a lot of these states.

“And so I think those are the two key takeaways, how President Trump did more than I think any other president has done for elections and getting these candidates elected, and how we were able to defy history….”

“So, look, I look forward to continuing our work together.” Gardner told Steffan Tubbs on KNUS yesterday, referring to Trump. “And I’d like to see the President come to Colorado. I’d like to see my colleagues want to see him be successful. Let’s talk about the good things we’ve done in Colorado. Let’s show him the good things we’ve done in Colorado. I hope that everybody is engaged in wanting us to have a successful president.

The Coffman-Gardner contrast on Trump underscores again that Republicans have nowhere to turn, with Trump’s unhinged media presence so overwhelming and his popularity so low among so many different types of voters in states like Colorado.

Embrace him? Trash him? Do both? None of those approaches will win over enough voters for a GOP candidate to compete in Colorado, at least as things stand today, based on what happened last Tuesday.

Jason Crow Beat Mike Coffman By 11 Points

Earlier this week we wrote about the updated numbers in Colorado’s gubernatorial race, which show Democrat Jared Polis defeating Republican Walker Stapleton by a double-digit margin. If you thought those numbers were surprising, then this is really going to bake your noodle: Democrat Jason Crow beat Republican Mike Coffman in CO-6 by more than 11 points!

Take a look at how the margins in CO-6 have changed since the district boundaries were redrawn prior to the 2012 election cycle:

 

In the 2016 Presidential race, Democrat Hillary Clinton carried CO-6 by 9 points over Republican Donald Trump. Clinton’s margin was hard to square with Coffman’s 8-point win over Democrat Morgan Carroll in the same election…so how do you explain 2018?

Many Democrats have long assumed that holding CO-6 would be a tougher challenge than taking it from Coffman in the first place, but Crow’s 2018 margin may flip that thinking. Trump obviously hurt Coffman in 2018, and he wasn’t even on the ballot like he will be in 2020. What these numbers indicate is that Colorado’s 6th Congressional District may actually be out of reach for Republicans until at least 2022.

Trump Throws Coffman Under The Bus, Because Of Course

Via Denver7’s Blair Miller, you knew this was going to happen:

President Donald Trump’s pathological inability to take responsibility for any consequence of his bull-in-a-china-shop presidency made this morning-after insult piled on injury 100% inevitable. Nobody should be a bit surprised, especially after Mike Coffman’s two years of high-visibility dissing of Trump over anecdotal and personal matters–while voting with Trump over 95% of the time–that the president had no interest in softening the blow of Coffman’s defeat yesterday, indeed using Coffman’s loss as a cautionary tale with his own supporters to stay close.

Back in reality, of course, locals are aware that CD-6 has consistently elected Democrats in other races, and Coffman survived for three elections in a ticket-splitting feat of triangulation that bedeviled Democrats who always knew the seat was winnable. What Trump did most to affect the CD-6 race was to cast Coffman’s two-faced playing off his own party’s soiled brand in undeniably harsh relief. Once that happened, the ticket-splits that kept Coffman office simply evaporated.

We suspect there will be some lingering debate among conservatives whether Coffman should have openly embraced the President, but in the case of swing CD-6, we’re pretty confident that would have only widened Coffman’s margin of defeat.

Coffman Goes From Hard-Right, To Softer-Right, To Every Which Way–And Then Out

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman won re-election in 2016, prevailing in a district carried by Hillary Clinton, even a liberal blog ColoradoPols wrote that the Republican’s “ability to survive so many very different electoral climates and the complete refashioning of his congressional district make another serious run at Coffman increasingly difficult to justify.”

Two years later, Coffman has been voted out, replaced by Democrat Jason Crow.

The difference this year is Trump.

Coffman’s increasingly desperate attempts to define himself as an anti-Trump Republican weren’t believed by voters who apparently saw him as a pawn in Trump’s GOP army. A pawn with a 96 percent pro-Trump voting record, as Democrats repeated throughout the campaign.

Actually, Coffman was more Trump-like during the first 18 years of his political career than he was when he was voted out today. He began migrating away from his hardest-hard-right social conservative stances after his congressional district was redrawn after the 2010 census.

Unlike some flip-flopping politicians, Coffman’s migration was achieved by adopting multiple nuanced positions on controversial issues–with variations emerging over years.

On abortion, for example, he went from proudly opposing all abortion, even for rape and incest, to withdrawing his support for a personhood abortion ban. Later, he voted for abortion ban exceptions, infuriating his personhood supporters.

He voted to defund Planned Parenthood multiple times and then put a Planned Parenthood logo in a campaign advertisement. And then, in interviews on conservative radio, he continued to attack the women’s health organization.

On immigration, his spectacular metamorphosis took him from calling the Dream Act a nightmare to embracing it, even though he blocked the country’s best shot at immigration reform when he opposed a comprehensive immigration bill, passed in 2014 with bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate. The bill died in the House, and Coffman went on to learn Spanish.

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Echoing Trump’s Falsehoods About Journalism, Coffman Accuses New York Times Of Rigging Its Poll Against Him

(Which stage of grief is this? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

With multiple polls showing U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora headed toward defeat in Tuesday’s election, the longtime Republican Congressman saw no reason to worry yesterday, blaming the New York Times for deliberately skewing polling results toward his opponent, Democrat Jason Crow, and manufacturing concern about a possible loss by Coffman.

Asked about polls showing him down by double digits in his race with Crow, Coffman told KOA radio host April Zezbaugh:

Coffman: “That was by the New York Times and I think they put their thumb on the scale.”

Put their thumb on the scale?

This accusation reflects statements by Trump, who repeatedly calls the most respected news outlets in America “fake news.” He’s refers to the New York Times repeatedly as, “The failing New York Times.” Even though the stock price of the Times had more than doubled since Trump entered office.

The Colorado Times Recorder called Coffman’s spokesman Tyler Sandberg to ask if Coffman had any evidence that the New York Times rigged its poll against him.

“I don’t talk to fake news.” Sandberg said. “Thanks.”

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Trump Exposes Coffman’s Ugly Past on “Birthright Citizenship”

Responding to news this week that President Donald Trump would like to use an executive order to rescind the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship to persons born on American soil–which he can’t actually do–Rep. Mike Coffman, facing increasingly likely defeat next Tuesday, responded in a way that sounded fairly critical:

In Spanish, so there’s no confusion as to the target audience:

Since Trump took office, Coffman has had plenty of opportunities to triangulate off the president’s hard-line statements on immigration, and he’s taken some of them. Eliminating the constitutional guarantee of citizenship for children born on American soil is certainly one of the most controversial and aggressive moves Trump has proposed on immigration yet. Obviously, it’s in Coffman’s best interests to put as much daylight as possible between himself and this proposal with the swing voters he’s won over with his moderate tone.

Unfortunately for Mike Coffman, when it comes to the issue of “birthright citizenship,” there’s a problem.

The problem is that Mike Coffman himself co-sponsored legislation to rescind birthright citizenship, in both 2009 and 2011. This was back when Coffman was doing his best to uphold his congressional predecessor Tom Tancredo’s hard line anti-immigrant legacy, and before redistricting in 2011 redrew Coffman’s district to include a far more diverse and immigrant-heavy constituency. After that time, of course, these bills morphed from political asset to massive political liability; and Coffman has tried mightily to live them down, and reinvent himself wholesale on the issue.

But as you can see, Coffman can’t criticize Trump on the underlying issue, just the constitutionality of him doing this by executive order, without exposing himself as a hypocrite–even though it’s likely that Coffman’s legislation to rescind “birthright citizenship” would have run up against the 14th Amendment’s plain language too. Once you know Coffman’s true history on this issue, his weak statement of protest against Trump is exposed as a lame attempt to cover up Coffman’s own record. At the very least, a reporter needs to ask Coffman specifically what has changed between 2011, when he sponsored legislation to do exactly what Trump is proposing, and today when he wants voters to think he opposes it.

Better ask soon, though, because after next Tuesday it might not matter.

Debate Diary: Mike Coffman’s Last Call

Rep. Mike Coffman (left) and challenger Jason Crow

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and Democrat Jason Crow sat down with 9News political people Kyle Clark and Marshall Zelinger on Tuesday for the final debate of the CO-6 race. You can watch the full 30-minute debate here, or you can read all about it below.

Since this could very well be Coffman’s final debate as an incumbent politician after 30 years in elected office, we wanted to mark the occasion with one of our world famous “Debate Diaries.”

 

*NOTE: When we do our “live” Debate Diaries, we normally list the most current update at the top of the page. But because we’re posting this entire Debate Diary at once, it makes more sense to write it out chronologically from the top-down. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time and/or the prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome.  

 

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Coffman’s Saudi Arabia Faceplant: Last Chance Blown?

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

CNN reports on the stunning admission late yesterday from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that officials directly subordinate to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were indeed responsible for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul:

After 18 days in which Saudi Arabia adamantly denied that any harm had come to Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Istanbul, it committed a startling about-face. Not only did Riyadh admit that Khashoggi came to a violent end, it pinned the blame on some of the closest aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.

Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, both widely known figures who shot to fame during the crown prince’s rapid rise to power, were among five high-ranking officials who were dismissed over Khashoggi’s death. Eighteen others were detained…

In a flurry of coordinated statements, issued in the dead of night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia claimed Khashoggi’s death was accidental. According to the Saudi Press Agency, preliminary investigations revealed that “discussions” between Khashoggi and suspects currently detained by Saudi Arabia developed into a physical altercation that resulted in Khashoggi’s death. Those responsible then tried to cover up the death, state TV said.

Outside the bubble of Saudi state media–and apparently, the Trump administration–it has been the consensus of investigators and reporters that Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Turkish investigators were said to have evidence from the beginning, though the source and manner has been in question, that Khashoggi was tortured and dismembered by a team of high-level Saudi agents who arrived in the country with this sole task. Given the autocratic control of every part of Saudi Arabia’s economy and government by the Saudi royal family, it’s an easy question even for non-foreign policy experts like this blog how this could possibly have happened without the Crown Prince’s express authorization.

Although Saudi Arabia appears to be working to insulate the royal family from responsibility for what is now indisputably a grave diplomatic crisis, this admission is still pretty close to the worst-case scenario for the Trump administration, who has spent the last two weeks more or less determined to blame anyone else for this killing they can. President Donald Trump in particular has gone on at great length about the purchases of arms and other American products the Saudis have committed to, in a grisly attempt to counterbalance the value of Jamal Khashoggi’s life against these purchases.

As this news was breaking yesterday, embattled Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, struggling for life in the 2018 midterms and triaged out of support from national Republicans, tried to get his name into the story:

After Mike Coffman called in penalty and repentance for the “immediate recall” of the “acting ambassador” to Saudi Arabia via Twitter, the internet remembered a fairly important detail: the United States doesn’t have an ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora.

To Coffman’s modest credit, the acting ambassador to Saudi Arabia is the chargé d’affaires, ad interim at the American Embassy in Riyadh, Christopher Henzel. But unlike most “interim” positions at this level, that’s not expected to change anytime soon. The reason for this is that President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has personally assumed responsibility for American diplomacy with Saudi Arabia, and this informal nepotistic arrangement has suited the Saudis just fine. Henzel doesn’t have the real power in relations with the Saudis, Kushner does. So if Coffman wanted to call for something that might actually matter, he would call for Trump to tell his son-in-law to do it. But for all the obvious reasons, Coffman’s not going to go there. So he makes a statement that dodges the whole issue.

And that, gentle readers, is how Coffman made himself into a punchline on foreign policy with just over two weeks until the election. Even The Hill, a notoriously incumbent-friendly publication, couldn’t fully spin it back.

With Coffman already well behind in the polls, nobody’s going to say in hindsight that this latest embarrassing demonstration of Coffman’s ineptitude when it comes to the biggest asset he offers the voters of swing CD-6–“standing up to his own party”–was the event that flipped this race. Especially since Trump’s election, Coffman’s inability to affect the course of his party’s unpopular agenda has proven the emptiness of this promise over and over.

But as a straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back, sure. This might do it.

Republicans Pulling Out of CO-6, Signaling End for Coffman

Rep. Mike Coffman (left) and challenger Jason Crow

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is pulling out of CO-6 as prospects for Rep. Mike Coffman’s re-election grow increasingly sour.

As Jesse Paul reports for The Colorado Sun:

The powerful National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s arm in charge of ensuring GOP members are elected and re-elected to Congress, will stop its spending on U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s behalf in the 6th Congressional District.

The group confirmed the decision on Friday to The Colorado Sun.

The NRCC had spent or reserved more than $2.1 million in television ad spending for Coffman, a five-term incumbent, as he battles Democrat Jason Crow.

The group will pull all of the spending it had left in the race through Election Day. That’s about $1 million.

The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a SuperPAC run by House Speaker Paul Ryan, announced in late September that it was withdrawing from CO-6. With both public and private polls showing Coffman losing to Democrat Jason Crow, the writing on the wall has apparently become too much to ignore.

Barring some unexpected shift in the next two weeks, Coffman’s 30 years in elected office is coming to an end.

NY Times Wraps Up CO-6 Poll: Crow Leads Coffman 47-38

The New York Times wrapped up a very long “live” poll in CO-6, and the final numbers aren’t much better for Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) than they were at first glance a few weeks back. The Crowmentum continues!

In discussing its polling data in CO-6 and other key Congressional races around the country, Nate Cohn of the New York Times wrote on Wednesday that he expects these results to more or less hold depending on turnout in the General Election. This analysis fits with everything else we’ve seen lately, from national Republicans abandoning Coffman to Coffman’s own campaign releasing an internal poll showing their candidate losing to Democrat Jason Crow.

We’ve learned from prior races that Coffman has a way of sticking around and pulling out a victory on Election Day, so it’s way too early for Democrats to start celebrating in CO-6. Nevertheless, Crow appears to be a solid favorite with less than three weeks to go.

Mike Coffman, Republicans Reach New Level of Absurdity

Republican Congressman Mike Coffman has been in elected office for 30 years, but it’s looking more and more like his political career has reached the end of the line in 2018. Multiple public polls have shown Coffman trailing Democrat Jason Crow by significant margins (Coffman has even released internal polls that show him losing), and national Republican backers are pulling out of CO-6 — a clear sign that Coffman is considered to be a lost cause as the GOP scrambles to find some way to hold on to their House majority.

Coffman’s own desperation is palpable. Long known as a politician who will take every position on every issue, Coffman hammered the panic button recently when said that he would even consider supporting impeachment proceedings against President Trump (never mind the fact that Coffman has voted with Trump 96% of the time in Congress).

But Coffman and Colorado Republicans aren’t done yet. They managed to raise the ridiculous bar another few feet with this new mailer:

In case you can’t see the embedded image, we’re talking about a mail piece paid for by the Colorado Republican Party that talks about how Coffman stands up to the Republican Party. Of course, Coffman doesn’t actually “stand up” to the Republican Party, but the very idea that the State GOP is pushing this message is almost too absurd to believe.

Almost too absurd to believe.