As the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports, the announcement yesterday that combat veteran and attorney Jason Crow will challenge longtime incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman in CD-6 next year set Coffman’s phalanx of defenders and surrogates into a full-scale round of nasty that didn’t come across well at all:
A bipartisan organization that encourages veterans to run for office demanded an apology Tuesday for comments made by a national Republican campaign group about combat veteran Jason Crow’s announcement that he’s challenging U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, also a combat veteran, in next year’s election.
While no one apologized, the swiftly escalating war of words — centered around charges that Coffman’s allies had “demean[ed] the service of another veteran” — could offer a preview of the sparring ahead in the battleground 6th Congressional District, which Coffman, an Aurora Republican, has represented since 2009…
A campaign spokesman for Coffman, Tyler Sandberg, greeted the news by welcoming Crow to the race after getting in a dig at House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a favorite Coffman target. “The nation owes a debt of gratitude to those like Mike Coffman and Jason Crow who answer the call of duty,” Sandberg continued before leveling criticism at some high-profile policy positions Crow has taken in recent years.
Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, however, skipped right to the attack, dismissing Crow’s announcement as “hot air” and calling him “another talking head serving nothing but empty platitudes.” Pandol also extolled “veteran Mike Coffman” as “one of the hardest-working independent members of Congress,” without mentioning that his challenger was also a vet.
The swiftness and ferocity of the attacks on Jason Crow betray real concern among Republicans that he could be a formidable challenger to Coffman in 2018. Crow is a decorated combat veteran who received the Bronze Star for his service–a record that eclipses Coffman’s, though we doubt Crow will make that point himself. Either way, Coffman’s heavy reliance on his military service as a campaign point is obviously blunted running against Crow, and that’s a bigger problem for Coffman than others because he doesn’t have much else to talk about. Coffman spends as much time triangulating against the Republican agenda as he does supporting it, and he fills the gaps in that political image with a generous serving of militaria.
But in their zeal to ward off this new threat to Coffman, Republican surrogates are going waaay too far:
Kelly Maher, executive director of the conservative political group Compass Colorado, maintained in a release Tuesday afternoon that Crow was merely one of several cookie-cutter candidate national Democrats had recruited based on focus-group testing.
“As a combat veteran and Denver attorney, Crow fits the exact mold political insiders in the Democratic establishment have identified as their new ideal candidate,” Maher said, contending that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — the NRCC’s counterpart across the aisle — had “scoured the country” looking for as many candidates who fit the profile as possible to challenge vulnerable Republicans…
“While we appreciate Mr. Crow’s service, it’s unfortunate for the Washington liberal elite that the ‘perfect candidates’ doesn’t just roll off a focus-grouped assembly line like little robots,” Maher said.
Folks, this is just over-the-top venomous nonsense. Sure, both sides like to field combat veterans as political candidates–like Mike Coffman himself! And sure, running political newcomers is an approach that has been validated by, among many others, the new Republican President of the United States.
But seriously–an “assembly line” churning out “little robot” combat veterans? Who the hell talks this way?
Frightened people, that’s who. And also rather tone deaf.