Mike Coffman has a race on his hands, according to the venerable Cook Political Report. In the wake of last week’s vote by House Republicans to approve a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, the election forecaster shifted the contest for the Aurora Republican’s 6th Congressional District seat from “Lean Republican” to “Toss Up” on Friday, marking the earliest such designation for the perennial swing seat since Coffman won it nearly a decade ago.
In addition, the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman writes, Denver attorney and combat veteran Jason Crow — one of three Democrats so far vying for the chance to take on Coffman — poses a particularly formidable challenge to the incumbent because Coffman can’t claim he’s the only veteran in the race, as he has in previous elections.
Democrats Gabriel McArthur and David Aarestad are also running for the seat, and local Democrats say still more candidates could emerge before the primary ballot is set.
The battleground 6th District is nearly evenly split between Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters. It includes Aurora and suburbs in Adams County to the north and Arapahoe and Douglas counties to the south.
Wasserman dings Coffman on the GOP-backed American Health Care Act even though he voted against it, faulting him for taking a while to declare his position. (Crow’s campaign pointed out that Coffman has voted to repeal Obamacare 62 times in the seven years since Congress approved it.)
“[S]everal of the 20 Republicans who voted against AHCA could end up being blamed anyway, much as 17 of the 30 Democrats who took a pass on the ACA and then ran for reelection ended up losing in 2010,” Wasserman notes.
Cautioning that the 18 months until the election “is an eternity in politics,” the prognosticator says he’s shifting ratings toward more competitive statuses in 20 districts across the country, including Coffman’s 6th District.
“Coffman ended up voting against the AHCA, but his hesitation to announce his position likely won’t assuage voters who want to send a message to President Trump next year,” Wasserman opines. “In his past three impressive victories, Coffman has been able to contrast his own military service against his opponents’ votes in the state legislature. But now Democrats are excited about attorney and former Army Ranger Jason Crow.”
(He adds that Coffman “hasn’t ruled out a bid for governor,” although it’s his wife, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who has publicly toyed with the idea of running in that race next year.)
Crow took the occasion to hammer home his message.
“Voters are going to have two very different choices next fall,” he said in a statement. “Do we want to continue with the way our country and political discourse are moving or do they want new leadership and a new voice representing them in Washington? The constituents of the 6th District rejected Donald Trump by a large margin last fall and Coffman has supported his agenda 93 percent of the time.”
Coffman campaign spokesman Tyler Sandberg shrugged off the rating shift.
“Denver lawyer Jason Crow doesn’t live in the district, launched his campaign backing out of a 9News interview and ducking reporters and has yet to say what exactly he would do if elected — other than not being Mike Coffman,” he said. “And on that point, we agree. Mike Coffman is an independent voice who voters have reelected by wide margins because he has demonstrated the type of leadership we need more of in Washington, D.C. Less lawyers, more leaders.”