Colorado Democrats say they’re hopeful Jason Crow is the man to take down Mike Coffman
Author: Peter Marcus - May 23, 2017 - Updated: May 23, 2017
Colorado Democrats are excited about political newcomer Jason Crow, who they believe can finally unseat Republican Mike Coffman in the 6th Congressional District.
The Denver attorney and combat veteran’s April announcement drew scorn from Republicans and praise from high-profile Democrats, suggesting that Crow is emerging as the frontrunner in the race.
But Crow suffers from a lack of name recognition, so some Democrats are pinning their hopes on a more high-profile name to arise. One name that has been floated is state Sen. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, who could help with fundraising.
Also announced is Aurora attorney David Aarestad and 25-year-old Littleton resident Gabriel McArthur. Technology entrepreneur Levi Tillemann has also announced an exploratory committee to look into a run in the 6th Congressional District.
“Washington liberals fielded their next candidate (read: sacrificial lamb) to challenge Congressman Mike Coffman in 2018,” read a press release from right-leaning Compass Colorado quickly following Crow’s announcement.
“As a combat veteran and Denver attorney, Crow fits the exact mold political insiders in the Democratic establishment have identified as their new ideal candidate.”
But Crow, who lives in the Denver Stapleton neighborhood and is looking for properties in the district, says his campaign is not spearheaded by Washington, D.C., interests affiliated with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“I think they’re enthusiastic about my campaign, I think they’re interested in my profile, they’re interested in what I bring to the race,” Crow said of his discussions with the DCCC.
In some ways, Crow does have the ideal profile to take on Coffman, who has repeatedly defeated Democrats by pointing to national security and his own military background. The district has always seemed winnable for Democrats, with 31 percent of total registered voters, compared to 30 percent Republicans. Unaffiliated voters make up 36 percent.
Somehow, Coffman still manages to win, having most recently defeated former Senate President Morgan Carroll by about 8 points. Coffman also defeated former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff by about the same.
Still, Democrats are excited about their prospects with Crow.
“I have known Jason for several years as an active member of the community and as a member of my Veterans Advisory Committee. He has been very helpful on veterans issues, especially as it relates to issues concerning veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. I know Jason to be honest and hardworking with a passion for helping people,” said U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who represents the 7th Congressional District and is running for governor.
A background that fits the district
Having grown up in Wisconsin, Crow says he comes from a working-class background, with his family employed as bricklayers. His father was able to go to college, which was somewhat inspirational to Crow.
In college at the University of Wisconsin, Crow joined the National Guard.
“My time in the National Guard really sparked something for me – wearing the uniform, serving the country and the community,” he said during a recent interview with Colorado Politics at a coffee shop across from the state Capitol.
Crow became excited as he recalled requesting active duty following the Sept. 11 attacks. He requested infantry airborne ranger training.
“The moral of the story is be careful what you ask for,” he joked, pointing to the intense service of being an airborne ranger. “I like taking on the tough challenges.”
Crow led a platoon of paratroopers during the invasion of Iraq, and he earned a Bronze Star for his service. From there he was recruited into the Army Rangers for special operations.
“It had its moments,” Crow said simply of the elite work.
Crow, now 38, saw three combat tours before moving to Denver and going to law school at the University of Denver. It was then that he realized veterans issues needed to be sorted out. Crow had a hard time receiving his benefits.
“I was thinking to myself that all the other people I served with are having the same problems, and I started to look into the issue more broadly and really recognized it as a political topic, that there were resources available, but there wasn’t the political will at the time to get over the hump,” Crow said.
He became involved in former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter’s gubernatorial campaign and chaired a veterans committee for former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall in 2008. Crow also advised U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet on veterans issues.
In 2012, Crow spoke at the Democratic National Convention and worked on President Obama’s campaign. He made the former “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay service members a priority focus.
From there, Crow built his law practice in litigation and business regulatory compliance. But he has always made veterans issues a focus of his life, serving on state boards and working to help secure funding for the VA hospital in Aurora.
Facing off against Coffman in Trump’s world
Crow has naturally been using President Trump’s layers of controversies to his advantage in the race, while Coffman has been doing his best to distance himself from the embattled president.
“I’ve been thinking about how we got to the place that we are in right now,” Crow said. “Trump is problematic to me, but to me Trump is emblematic of other underlying issues that have been growing for some time.”
On health care, Coffman could have a difficult time in the 2018 race. Republicans continue to struggle to come up with a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act that they can successfully campaign on.
But Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado, does not appear too worried.
“While we appreciate Mr. Crow’s service, it’s unfortunate for the Washington liberal elite that the ‘perfect candidate’ doesn’t just roll off a focus-grouped assembly line like little robots,” said Maher.
“Colorado is a fiercely independent state, and the top-down, dictatorial, one-size-fits-all approach to candidate recruitment from controlling powerbrokers will backfire here. Coloradans are going to examine the policies advocated by a Nancy Pelosi pick in stark contrast to the independent values for which Mike Coffman consistently fights.”
Crow, however, believes he can build a political bridge in the district.
“I think about the people that I served with in Iraq and Afghanistan, from all different political stripes, every different background,” he said. “I can’t tell you still to this day what the political affiliation of most of those people were. It didn’t matter. We came together, we fought under the same flag, we wore the same uniform, we took the same oath.”