FOX 31’s Joe St. George takes a look at the local fallout of yesterday’s announcement by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan that he will not run for re-election–which naturally has an impact on Colorado’s most perennially vulnerable member of Congress, GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, as he plots a way forward through 2018’s historic headwinds:
“It is the clearest sign that we’ve seen that the Democrats are going to win,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., told Politico, “I’ve been saying, ‘I don’t quite see the wave, but I’m starting to feel the mist.’ Now I’m starting to see the wave.”
If there is in fact a wave, in Colorado the Republican trying to avoid getting drenched is Congressman Mike Coffman…
According to officials, there are 157,000 unaffiliated voters registered in the district, 145,000 registered Democrats and 138,000 registered Republicans.
But Coffman has perceived as vulnerable before — most recently in 2016 — yet he still won. In fact, Coffman won by more than 34,000 votes in 2016.
Rep. Coffman’s survival over the last few elections has come despite a district that reliably supported Democrats at the top of the ticket–like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Michael Bennet–which speaks to the success Coffman has had positioning himself apart from his own party’s unpopular brand, even as he remains a loyal Republican vote in Congress on the overwhelming majority of issues.
This year, even before Paul Ryan announced he is pulling the proverbial ripcord, Coffman’s string of luck looked to be running out. The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency has forced Coffman to juggle his contradictory images like never before in his career, and the results have not been positive. The impression Coffman sought to foster in 2016 that he would “stand up to Trump” has not been matched with action since then, and Coffman’s vote in favor of the unpopular Trump tax plan removed all doubt as to what side he is on.
That means it’s going to be difficult to impossible for Coffman to pull off the kind of triangulation off his own party that has proven successful for him in previous elections. The failure to defeat Coffman in a district that otherwise handily elects Democrats has proven to be one of the most vexatious failures for Colorado Democrats in recent years, even as they’ve enjoyed success in so many other races.
With both Democratic as well as unaffiliated voters looking to punish the Republican Party as a unit for inflicting Trump upon the nation, Coffman’s strategy of triangulation may fail him just when he needs it most.