By now you’ve no doubt heard some iteration of a quickly-growing story that large numbers of Coloradans are completely unable to reach any office of Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). As the Durango Herald’s Jonathan Romeo reports, frustrated constituents don’t seem to have many options for reaching one of their most prominent elected officials, and they aren’t happy about it:
All said Gardner has failed to respond in any meaningful way – in contrast to Congressman Scott Tipton, a Republican, and Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat – and that attempts to contact a representative in the Durango office have continually been unsuccessful.
As we wrote earlier today, it isn’t just Gardner’s main Washington D.C. office that is being flooded with calls. Reporters for the Durango Herald on Tuesday called all of Gardner’s eight offices in Colorado and his Washington D.C. headquarters. Romeo writes that the line rings with no voicemail in Durango and is regularly met with a busy signal in Denver; four voicemails were left without reply, and an actual human being answered the phone at only three offices (Grand Junction, Pueblo, and Yuma).
This story of horrible constituent relations comes on the heels of a bad week for anti-Obamacare Republicans such as Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), whose early, backdoor exit from his own town hall left a packed office of understandably-irate CD-6 residents and created a string of national stories about widespread backlash to eliminating the Affordable Care Act.
The problems with Gardner’s office are escalating calls for Rep. Coffman to follow through with a promise to provide a larger venue to discuss Obamacare repeals. In a video that hasn’t received nearly enough attention, Coffman talked with Susan Greene of the Colorado Independent on the day after his town hall fiasco and said his office was working to find a much larger venue for another meeting:
“I think the problem was that it was the wrong venue for the event,” says Coffman in a brief interview. “What we’re trying to do right now is get a very large venue, and just really get the word out for people to come. Probably a venue that could handle at least 300 people…and not in a library.”
Coffman obviously didn’t handle that Saturday town hall very well, but the backlash will grow sizably if he fails to deliver on promising a larger venue to discuss repealing Obamacare. Why? Because Coffman has said himself that he wants to hear from “stakeholders” in his district about potential repeal plans. From Politico:
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said a retreat for House and Senate Republicans in Philadelphia later this month will be an important milestone for hashing out the details of any Obamacare replacement plan, and he’s urged stakeholders in his state to offer their suggestions in time for repeal. [Pols emphasis]
This is all setting up to be a political nightmare for Coffman if he doesn’t quickly schedule a larger venue for a discussion he himself has said should take place “in time for repeal.” What Coffman ultimately does here will resonate outside of Colorado; Republicans have been clear that they are trying to avoid “confrontations” with constituents largely by, you know, not meeting with them.
Will Coffman stick to his word? There are plenty of Republicans around the country who probably hope he doesn’t, but Coffman is too far down this road to turn back now.