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Arizona’s Giffords backs Colorado Democrat Jason Crow, says combat vet has ‘courage to stand up for gun safety’

Author: Ernest Luning - November 27, 2017 - Updated: January 31, 2018

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Arizona’s former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, left, and Jason Crow. (AP, photo courtesy of Crow)

The gun violence prevention organization founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was wounded in a shooting in Arizona six years ago, has endorsed Democrat Jason Crow in next year’s 6th Congressional District primary.

“Jason Crow has shown the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and help lead the effort to reduce gun violence in our country,” the former Arizona congresswoman said in a statement. “Military veterans are some of our nation’s foremost experts on guns. They know it’s important to work together to protect both our rights and the security of our communities, and for that reason, I believe Jason is uniquely qualified to make lasting change in Washington D.C.”

Gifford was one of 19 people shot in 2011 at a constituent-outreach event she was holding outside a grocery store in Tucson that left six dead. She founded the nonprofit, called Giffords, along with her husband, combat veteran and retired astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly. The organization threw its support behind Crow and two other veterans in its first round of endorsements in 2018 primaries.

Crow, an attorney and one of three Democrats running in the suburban swing district, said he was honored to receive the nod.

“As someone who grew up a hunter, I support Second Amendment rights,” Crow said in a statement. “As an Army Ranger and combat veteran I have also seen first hand what guns can do to human life. My opponent, Congressman Mike Coffman, has taken more money from the gun lobby than any other member of the Colorado delegation. As long as he is in office, our district will be represented by special interests, not Colorado values. In Congress, I promise to fight for those values with meaningful, concrete measures that keep our community and our children safe.”

Coffman, the Republican incumbent, received $30,843 from gun rights groups during last year’s election cycle, ranking him 11th in the country and several spots above the next-highest Colorado recipient, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Cortez Republican, according to Politico and the Center for Responsive Politics. Coffman, serving his fifth term, was also the only Colorado congressional candidate to have taken more than $100,000 in contributions from gun rights groups since 1990 — he banked $101,693 — according to a Politico analysis that found 27 representatives, all Republican, with six-figure hauls.

An Army and Marine Corps veteran, Coffman won reelection bids that were among the most hotly contested in the country for the past three cycles.

Democrats Levi Tillemann, a clean-energy expert and former Obama administration official, and David Aarestad, an attorney and one-time school board candidate, are also running in the 6th District, which covers Aurora and portions of Adams County to the north and Arapahoe and Douglas counties to the south. Coffman is facing a challenge from Roger Edwards in the GOP primary.

In addition to Crow, Giffords endorsed Democratic primary candidates Gil Cisneros, a Navy veteran, in California’s 39th Congressional District, and Mikie Sherrill, a retired Navy pilot and federal prosecutor, in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional 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. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.