One of the biggest themes in the CD-6 race has been the wholesale transformation of incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, from the arch-conservative Republican representing firebrand conservative Tom Tancredo's former district, into a "moderate" representing one of the most economically and culturally diverse congressional districts in the United States. It's a transformation that has mostly taken place since 2012, when a relatively obscure and underfunded Democratic opponent came within only two points of unseating Coffman–demonstrating how redistricting has made Coffman one of the nation's most vulnerable incumbent members of Congress.
Coffman's record before redistricting reshaped the electorate he answers to, from a time when his only threat was being deemed insufficiently conservative, is the biggest problem he faces remaining in office today. This video clip from a 2008 congressional debate, when Coffman was working overtime to prove his conservative credentials in the Republican primary to replace Tancredo, demonstrates the problem better than perhaps anything we've seen:
MIKE COFFMAN: In terms of federal spending it is out of control and that's why Republicans are out of power right now because they didn't hold true to their beliefs as being fiscal conservatives. The biggest part of the budget, unfortunately is now on auto-pilot. It's entitlement spending–it's not discretionary spending. [Interrupted]
What is important about this district, in being a very Republican seat, is it enables someone to be able to take strong positions that someone in a swing seat may not be able to take. [Pols emphasis] And entitlement reform, in order to bring fiscal sanity to this country, has got to be a part of it.
And here you have a President [Bush] who was talking about Social Security reform, abandoned Social Security reform, turned around and did an entitlement on Medicare for which he cooked the books to make the numbers work, and future generations are going to be paying for that. Someone has to have the courage to step up and say "no." I've demonstrated that courage here in the state of Colorado.
"Old Coffman" was awfully candid, wasn't he?
It's critical to understand this: the "entitlement on Medicare" for which Coffman claims President George W. Bush "cooked the books" to enact is the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit–the same Medicare Part D Coffman received an award for "protecting" from the National Grange just last year! Has anybody asked Coffman what changed between the time that Medicare Part D was a big bad "entitlement," and when it became a plank in Coffman's platform to "protect Medicare?" We're guessing not. Because there is no good answer, folks.
But it's a great example of how Coffman's "strong positions"…have come back to bite him.