Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has been hemming and hawing about running for Governor for more than a year now. On Wednesday, Coffman finally made it official: She will seek the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018.
As the Denver Post explains:
Coffman long considered entering the governor’s race and traveled the country in recent months to raise her profile. One sign that she might not seek re-election as attorney general came in October when reports showed she had raised just $10,600 since July 1 for her attorney general campaign.
State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has already locked down many top Republican donors, but Coffman said she’s confident “money is going to come.”
Sure to surface in the campaign is the unsuccessful attempt Coffman in 2015 helped lead to oust then-Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House in a saga that involved accusations of extramarital affairs and threats. But when asked about the episode, she brushed it aside.
“I don’t think I need to talk about it a lot because I think it’s old news,” she said. “To me, Steve and I resolved that situation several years ago and it’s not something I give a lot of thought to.”
We have no doubt that the Attorney General would prefer that the “Coffmangate” scandal could just be swept under the rug, but as a candidate for the top job in the state, the odds of that happening are about zero. Coffman’s defense for this whole sordid scandal (click here for more background) has been, essentially, that her actions probably did not meet the legal standard for blackmail. As the Denver Post reported in June 2015:
Coffman said the meeting at the Warwick took place over wine and was meant to be confidential. She said she mentioned House’s alleged mistress by her first name at that meeting, but not in a threatening manner. “Nobody accused him of an affair. Nobody threatened to expose anything,” she said.
Coffman said: “If you look up the legal definition of blackmail this doesn’t fit it.” [Pols emphasis]
Yeah, that’s not good. Coffman’s entry in the race, and the necessary reminder of the “Coffmangate” scandal, could also be problematic for Republican candidate Tom Tancredo, who played a central role in trying to oust Steve House as the Chair of the State Republican Party in 2015.
Coffman will also have trouble explaining to a conservative electorate about her decision to offer a favorable opinion on the legality of the “Hospital Provider Fee” change that dominated the 2017 legislative session. Michael Fields of the Koch-brothers funded Americans for Prosperity made that argument in a Tweet this morning:
— Michael Fields (@MichaelCLFields) November 8, 2017
Coffman is the eighth or ninth Republican running for Governor (depending on whether you count Barry Farah, and we’re not sure if you should). Getting such a late start on the race is certainly a head-scratching decision for Coffman — particularly when you consider that she has been working on putting a campaign together for a very long time — and it’s not clear that there will be enough support for her to sustain a real challenge to more well-known and better funded Republican candidates.
Coffman’s decision to run for Governor also creates new problems for Republicans in the now-open race for Attorney General. Congressman Ken Buck had been considering a run but seemed to have grown wary of Coffman’s inability to make a decision on the race. If Buck stays out of the race, the likely Republican candidate is state Rep. Cole Wist, but it’s not clear that he would have the GOP field to himself.