Denver attorney, combat veteran Jason Crow launches Democratic challenge to Mike Coffman

Author: Ernest Luning - April 11, 2017 - Updated: April 11, 2017

Democrat Jason Crow, a Denver attorney, Army Ranger and combat veteran, announced on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, that he's challenging five-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, in the 2018 election. (Photo via Jason Crow campaign)
Democrat Jason Crow, a Denver attorney, Army Ranger and combat veteran, announced on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, that he’s challenging five-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, in the 2018 election. (Photo via Jason Crow campaign)

Democrat Jason Crow, a Denver attorney and decorated Army Ranger veteran, announced Tuesday he’s running against U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in the battleground 6th Congressional District in next year’s election.

“As a combat veteran and father of young children, I’m running for Congress because our political system is broken, and we’re not going to solve our problems with the same politicians and same thinking that got us here,” Crow said in a statement.

“I have always gone to where the fight is — and I believe that our most important fight is right here in the 6th District, especially when it comes to standing up to President Trump and fighting for Colorado values,” Crow said.

Calling Crow a “predictable partisan,” the Coffman campaign welcomed the Democrat to the race while ripping his record on veterans health care and Crow’s support for the Iranian nuclear deal.

National Republicans, meanwhile, dismissed Crow as “another talking head serving nothing but empty platitudes.”

Coffman, a five-term incumbent, was reelected in November by a wide margin to represent the Aurora-based seat, one of 23 congressional districts nationwide carried by Democrat Hillary Clinton but represented by Republicans. Clinton won the district by about 9 points, while Coffman prevailed by 7.3 points over former Senate President Morgan Carroll, who was elected state chair of the Colorado Democrats last month.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — the campaign arm of the House Democrats — included Coffman on a list of target incumbents earlier this year, but his campaign team scoffed at the prospect, pointing out that the Army and Marine Corps veteran has dispatched increasingly high-profile Democratic challengers in recent elections even as the race has been ranked as among the most competitive in the country.

But national Democrats say Coffman is particularly vulnerable in next year’s midterm election and hasn’t helped himself by being the only member of Colorado’s congressional delegation to get behind legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, before GOP leaders canceled a planned vote for the bill because it lacked Republican support.

Crow, who served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and received the Bronze Star, will be Coffman’s first Democratic challenger with a military background since the congressional district’s lines were redrawn to make it a swing seat.

Like two of Coffman’s previous challengers — former state Rep. Joe Miklosi in 2012 and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in 2014 — Crow is jumping in the race as a Denver resident, with a home in the Stapleton neighborhood located several blocks west of the 6th District’s boundaries. (Miklosi and Romanoff both moved into Aurora shortly after announcing they were running for the seat.)

“I approach this challenge as someone who grew up in a working class family, served his nation at war, and as the father of two fifth generation Coloradans – as someone who wants to be part of the solution in a place where career politicians seem to be part of the problem,” Crow said in a statement. “Action matters more than words, results matter more than rhetoric, and I look forward to continuing my conversations with families in the 6th District to discuss what we need to get done.”

Reacting to Crow’s campaign announcement, Coffman campaign advisor Tyler Sandberg invoked familiar Coffman villain Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House leader and conservative bogeyman.

“Nancy Pelosi has an unhealthy obsession with beating Mike Coffman — but give her this much credit, she always raises a lot of money and Pelosi always recruits a quality challenger,” Sandberg told The Colorado Statesman. “We welcome Mr. Crow to the race.”

“The nation owes a debt of gratitude to those like Mike Coffman and Jason Crow who answer the call of duty,” he continued. “But as a Democratic Party activist, Jason Crow has shown conspicuously bad judgment. Jason took to the stage of the Democratic National Convention to praise the previous administration’s handling of veteran’s healthcare, which remains one of the biggest moral failings of President Obama’s tenure. Mr. Crow was also John Kerry’s mouthpiece in Colorado for the great Iranian Nuclear sell-out, one of the greatest foreign policy blunders of an administration that was full of them.”

Sandberg was referencing a speech Crow delivered on the final day of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte discussing Obama’s record advocating for veterans’ health care and praising the administration’s role in the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

“Congress doesn’t need another predictable partisan who allows the bright lights and the big stage to obscure their view of what’s best for America,” Sandberg said. “Team Coffman is ready for the campaign ahead.”

A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee — the GOP’s counterpart to the DCCC — skipped the niceties.

“Jason Crow will find out soon enough that his hot air won’t get him very far running against one of the hardest-working independent members of Congress, Mike Coffman,” NRCC spokesman Jack Pandol told The Statesman. “This election will be a choice between veteran Mike Coffman, who has worked with both sides to produce real results for veterans and working families, and another talking head serving nothing but empty platitudes.”

After serving in the military, Crow got a law degree at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. He’s a partner at Holland and Hart. He has served as a member of the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs and chaired the veterans committee that brought the VA hospital to Aurora. He received the United Veterans Committee’s Outstanding Service Award in 2011 for his work advocating for the VA hospital. Crow is married to Deserai Anderson Crow, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver who specializes in environmental policy. Their two young children are fifth-generation Coloradans.

The 6th Congressional District wraps around the eastern side of the metro area, including eastern Adams County, Aurora, the more densely populated areas in eastern Arapahoe County and a dense sliver of Douglas County, including Highlands Ranch. Voter registration is nearly evenly split between Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters in the district.


Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.


  • Drew Kerin

    April 11, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Can Democrats not find a decent candidate who… you know… actually lives in the district?! I’m sure the people, of the 6th CD, are tired of Democratic candidates being brought in from Denver. This is the third time in five election cycles Democrats have pulled the carpetbagger trick.

    Jason Crow will be another smiling face, showing up in the district, to say I want to be your congressman and then will never be seen again, after losing in 2018. This candidacy gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “as the crow flies.”

    This lawyer doesn’t live in the district, but is ready to tackle its problems. Where was his voice when the Aurora VA hospital debacle was unfolding, or when veterans were dying because of the VA was “cooking its appointment books,” so employees could get bonuses? To paraphrase Sarah Palin, maybe he can see the 6th CD from his house!

    I do give Mr. Crow credit for being a combat veteran, but the gridlock in Congress will not be helped by adding yet another attorney to the mix.

    • Timothy Tribbett

      April 11, 2017 at 6:03 pm


      Meet Jason before you write him off. I understand your frustrations with people coming in from Denver but Jason is an exceptional guy. Meet him and give him a chance.

      • Drew Kerin

        April 11, 2017 at 8:53 pm

        Democrats gerrymandered the 6th CD the way they wanted it to be, yet — three times now — they belittle the constituents by bringing in a candidate from Denver. Let Jason Crow challenge Diana DeGette in the Democratic Party primary. She has been in office long enough and the 1st CD needs so new blood.

        It is insulting that Democrats act like they cannot find a candidate in Aurora, Brighton, Thornton, Greenwood Village, Centennial, Foxfield, Highlands Ranch, or Littleton to challenge Coffman. Mr. Crow will never be able to shake the carpetbagger tag and him being a lawyer is not helping matters any.

        I think it is safe to say Coffman will beat this unknown outsider, by a wider margin than he did with Andrew Romanoff and Morgan Carroll, in 2018.

  • Joan Wolfe

    April 11, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    The va was actually starting o get properly funded under Obama after George Bush refused to do that. Mike Coffman wants to privatize VA which would be disastrous for veterans. If the VA were properly funded with adequate staffing all along it would not have developed the problems it did. George Bush did not ramp up resources as the war began and continued. Again… the GOP blames everything on Obama. Disgusting lies.

    • Drew Kerin

      April 11, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      Neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama provides funding to the VA or any other federal agency. That is the responsibility of Congress.

      Clearly, the VA is incapable of handling additional funding properly. The Aurora VA hospital debacle is $1.1 billion over budget and years behind completion. Did Obama issue an executive order demanding an accounting of all this? Nope! When veterans were dying because the VA was keeping two sets of appointment books so VA employees could “qualify” for bonuses, did Obama issue an executive order to get to the bottom of that scandal? Nope!

      If “privatizing the VA” means the Choice program Mike Coffman sponsored, good for him! It allowed veterans, in need, to get medical care when the VA facilities ignored them. Saving lives counts more than funding, Joan. It is disgusting that Democrats don’t see that.

      As for Mr. Crow… no one has ever heard of him and he certainly has had no voice, or experience, regarding the corruption and incompetence of the VA. He is a carpetbagger and an opportunist, who knows little about the issues in the 6th CD. I guess he’s going on a “listening tour” now. At least, the incumbent doesn’t need to do that.

    • Thomas House LTC Ret

      April 13, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      We respectfully need to close down the VA. It is a bloated government agency with poor results. My grandfather, a WWI vet was not treated well in the Portland VA. My son, a two time in Iraq CIB vet, cannot stand the VA. I propose we close the VA and give Vets an Obamacare policy free.

  • Thomas House LTC Ret

    April 13, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    If military experience is important, I hope he is fairly representing what he did. A Bronze Star does not mean you ever fired a weapon or were ever shot at. You can work in a hospital or a supply dump and get a Bronze Star. So, he served combat tours? What was his MOS and what unit was he assigned to. I hope he was infantry. Military experience is impressive but we should not call working in the Green Zone or pushing paper a ‘combat tour.’ Why did he leave the Army? Would like to know more, respectfully.

  • Leslie Lowdermilk

    April 29, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Thank you for your service to our country, Mr. Crow. I cannot vote for you as I do not live in Colorado, but if I did, you’d have my vote. Please know that the RESISTANCE stands with you as you take on a life- long politician. We need new blood in Congress. We NEED people who have the will and courage to challenge the current “LiarInChief.” I know I’ll be told to stay out of it since I’m not from CO, but as a US citizen, I believe every seat against Trump is valuable.

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