Yes, our 2013 Top 10 List has extended well into 2014, but we've always believed that the year is never really over as long as the Broncos are still playing — Colorado Pols
Colorado is home to 7 of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Of those seven, four seats (CD-1, CD-2, CD-4, CD-5) are about as likely to change hands as Peyton Manning is to order from Pizza Hut. It's rare enough for Colorado to have a nail biter of a Congressional battle in a General Election, but to have a seat listed among the Top 10 toss-up races in the entire country is a particular treat for political junkies in the 38th state. That's what makes the contest in CD-6 such an important story — with the candidacy of Democrat Andrew Romanoff in high gear, Republican Rep. Mike Coffman just may be America's Most Vulnerable Congressman.
The post-redistricting boundaries of CD-6 made a formerly solid Republican seat a toss-up in terms of voter registration breakdowns, and Coffman probably only won re-election in 2012 because Democrats fielded a relatively weak candidate in Joe Miklosi. But things are different in 2014: former state House Speaker Romanoff was perhaps the strongest candidate Democrats could have found to end Coffman's tenure in CD-6. Romanoff's name ID is comparable to Coffman's, and throughout 2013 both candidates were neck-and-neck in reporting quarterly fundraising figures. Coffman cannot possibly hope to win in 2014 if he makes the same silly mistakes that he made in 2012…yet he was even more of a bumbling mess throughout the last 12 months.
Both Coffman and Romanoff will have plenty of financial resources at their disposal heading into November, but the negative ads that will run against Coffman will be much more impactful because of the Congressman's own missteps. In 2013 Coffman started down one of the most dangerous paths in American politics: the march of the flip-flopper. Coffman has seemed utterly confused about how to position himself on a variety of key issues and positions, whether it is trying to delete his own membership in the Tea Party or making public appearances that are completely at-odds with his own policy statements. Coffman inexplicably managed to become a national face of the universally derided federal shutdown, which perhaps shouldn't have been all that surprising given his impressive ability to take two separate positions on a key issue within 24 hours.
We've half-jokingly referred to Coffman's internal battle as New Coffman® vs. Old Coffman, but truthfully, it's become nearly impossible to understand what Coffman is trying to do on a regular basis. Aurora Magazine ran a feature in November about CD-6 that included plenty of Coffman-esque nonsense:
Coffman says in nearly the same breath that the city he’s represented since 1988 has changed, but also hasn’t.
“What I’ve noticed over the years are growing differences between the northern and southern parts of Aurora. This has led to a growing economic divide that has translated into two very different sets of issues between the north and the south,” Coffman wrote in his e-mail. “While the northern part expects a greater role for government in their lives, and supports higher taxes on higher income earners to pay for it, the southern part still wants a lower tax burden and a smaller government.”
He said later, “Certainly north Aurora is different. But I don’t think south Aurora was all that different back (in 1988). Or any different than it is today—I still live there.”
Uh…what? Read that last quote again and try to guess what Coffman thought he meant. And good luck.
It's certainly possible that Coffman could turn things around and figure out just what direction he really wants to go, but he's off to an auspicious start: as 2014 begins, he finds himself smack dab in the middle of another losing issue in the form of extending unemployment benefits. Old Coffman would never vote to extend unemployment benefits, but New Coffman® should be on the supportive side.
What will he do? We doubt Coffman knows himself…which is exactly why both New Coffman® and Old Coffman are America's Most Vulnerable Congressman.