EMILY’s List, a national group that recruits and helps fund Democratic women candidates, put two Colorado Republicans “on notice” Thursday, naming U.S. Reps. Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton to its list of top GOP targets in next year’s election.
The group charged that Coffman and Tipton have poor records on issues important to women — including funding for Planned Parenthood and support for equal pay legislation — and plans to make it a priority to get behind women candidates in their districts.
Coffman was elected in November to a fifth term representing the suburban 6th Congressional District — he prevailed over challenger Morgan Carroll, who had EMILY’s List’s endorsement — and Tipton is serving his fourth term representing the 3rd Congressional District, which covers much of Southern Colorado and the Western Slope.
The organization’s president, Stephanie Shriock, said each incumbent “has failed to protect the Coloradans he was elected to represent – and EMILY’s List and our 5 million-strong community are committed to flipping his seat. Women voters are furious at his shameful lack of courage and leadership – especially when it comes to protecting the safety and wellbeing of their families.”
Shriock charged Coffman with helping “introduce a bill that would have appallingly redefined rape” and blasted Tipton for supporting the House GOP’s health care bill earlier this year, which could have led to 23 million Americans losing their coverage. (Coffman voted against the House bill that passed, although he said he supported an earlier version that didn’t make it to a vote.)
The “On Notice” designation means not only that EMILY’s List finds the incumbents objectionable — they’ve “amassed appallingly anti-woman, anti-family records,” the group said in a release — but also believes they’re vulnerable to a candidate supported by the organization — in other words, a Democratic woman who supports abortion rights.
While Tipton has drawn a challenger who might fit the profile in state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, Coffman is so far only facing male challengers — attorney and Army Ranger combat veteran Jason Crow, author and former Obama administration energy official Levi Tillemann and attorney and former school board candidate David Aarestad.
A source close to EMILY’s List told Colorado Politics the group has spoken with Democratic women who might run in Coffman’s district, although local party sources say the higher profile potential challengers — state Sen. Rhonda Fields, state Rep. Janet Buckner, former state Rep. Karen Middleton and State Board of Education member Rebecca McClellan — have opted against a 2018 campaign.
Coffman and Tipton are also the two Colorado Republicans on a target list released in January by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party organization tasked with electing Democrats to the House.
The 50 Republican incumbents on this year’s “On Notice” list mark the largest number of initial targets in the group’s 32-year history, a spokesman for the group said. More than 16,000 women have approached EMILY’s List about running for office since the November election, he added, encouraging organizers to anticipate an unprecedented showing in next year’s election.
EMILY’s List — in the organization’s early days, the acronym stood for “Early Money is Like Yeast,” said to “help raise the dough” — has raised more than $500 million for candidates it’s supported since its founding in 1985, the group says. It claims it’s helped elect 116 women to the U.S. House, 23 women to the U.S. Senate and 12 governors.
Earlier this year, the group endorsed former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy in Colorado’s gubernatorial race and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, in a primary in the 7th Congressional District.