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Mike Coffman vs. Joe Salazar (and they’re not even in the same race)

Author: Joey Bunch - June 20, 2018 - Updated: June 20, 2018

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Salazar CoffmanState Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, introduces Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a named plaintiff in the 2014 Martinez case against state oil and gas regulators, at a press conference at the state Capitol in February. (Photo by Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

The political gloves came off this week, as the team supporting Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s re-election bid took a  shot at Democrat Joe Salazar that was, if not below the belt, then certainly about the belt line.

And they’re not even in the same race.

Salazar, a state representative from Thornton, is running for state attorney general. Coffman is seeking a sixth term representing the 6th Congressional District in east metro Denver.

Both candidates are in tough fights — Salazar in the primary next week, and Coffman in the November general election when he faces the winner in the Democratic primary, Jason Crow or Levi Tillemann.

Salazar drew first blood Monday, after Coffman had tweeted a Father’s Day message.

And since he brought up weight, the Coffman crew took some shots at his.

Coffman campaign spokesman Tyler Sandberg told Colorado Politics Wednesday that the account is managed by the campaign staff. “We speak as one voice,” he said.

“We won’t sit idly by while some two-bit hack like Joe Salazar calls Mike, a Marine Corps combat veteran with 21 years of service to our country, a coward.” he said. “Where are the Democrats decrying Salazar for his comments like they do when they decry Trump’s attacks on people like John McCain?”

He indicated the beef with Salazar goes back to at least 2015, when Salazar wrote an op-ed about Coffman in the Aurora Sentinel.

“Congressman Mike Coffman was a loud supporter of the extreme anti-immigrant agenda long before Donald Trump rode his xenophobia to the top of the Republican polls,” Salazar began.

Notably, Coffman opposed the separation of families at the border this week, before Trump reversed the policy on Wednesday.

Sandberg said, “Meanwhile, amidst this noise, Mike has been leading the charge, in a bipartisan fashion, against the inhumane policies on our border. An effort, that I might add, led to a rare Trump reversal today. Mike was also outspoken on the family separation issue long before Salazar launched his Twitter tirade.”

Salazar responded about the exchange to Colorado Politics via text.

“I guess the only thing I have to say is that Team Coffman’s response was shockingly tough, particularly when Mike Coffman is always looking for a backdoor exit when things get too much for him,” he said, referring to Coffman leaving out a back door from a town hall meeting last year to avoid protesters upset about a proposed Obamacare repeal.

“But, he pivoted away from the main issue, which was his embarrassingly absent position on Trump’s immoral policy of separating children from families.”

Salazar said he didn’t know where the dig about him eating bear claws came from.

“I’m more of a pan dulce guy.” he texted.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.