Politico’s Rachel Bade reports on a phenomenon being seen around the country with the midterm elections rapidly approaching–endangered Republican incumbents throwing wild haymaker punches at their opponents that are backfiring more than they help.
The local example? Rep. Mike Coffman, naturally:
Democratic House candidate Jason Crow received a Bronze Star for heroism in Iraq and a “lawyer of the year” award for his veterans advocacy. But according to his GOP adversaries, he has “neglected” Colorado veterans…
Democrats say the spots, aired mostly by the outside GOP super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund and the National Republican Congressional Committee, smack of desperation. In some cases, local Republicans, religious leaders and newspaper editorial boards have denounced the attacks.
…Backlash was swift. Local veterans who know Crow showed up at Coffman’s office to protest. Crow’s campaign highlighted the thousands of pro-bono hours he’d dedicated to helping veterans with substance abuse issues, as well as the “lawyer of the year” award he received in 2010 from the Denver Bar Association for his veterans advocacy.
It’s an old adage in politics, especially latter-day conservative politics, that it’s desirable to attack one’s opponent on the issues which they consider themselves strongest. John Kerry’s core asset running for President in 2004 was his decorated service in the Vietnam War, so George W. Bush’s chief political strategist Karl Rove ruthlessly attacked Kerry’s service record to both reduce Kerry’s advantage and shift attention away from Bush’s avoidance of combat service in Vietnam via the National Guard.
Likewise, the principal asset for Jason Crow in this race is his service in the Army Rangers, for which he earned the Bronze Star for his heroism at the Battle of As-Samawah in 2003. Although Mike Coffman is also a combat veteran, his record is not nearly as distinguished as Crow’s–and that’s part of the reason why Coffman’s campaign and backers have tried to “swift boat” Jason Crow by attacking him on his fictional “lack of support for veterans.”
What the polls show is that Coffman has finally met his match in Jason Crow, and the desperate attacks on Crow have only underscored to voters in CD-6 Coffman’s own inadequacies. By neutralizing Coffman’s advantage of military service, and then shrugging off Coffman’s dishonorable attacks on Crow’s own service, Crow has completely turned the tables in a game Coffman has become very comfortable about winning against the tide.
It looks like Coffman’s not the only one going down this way, but his fall will be momentous for Colorado politics.