Two years ago, we were talking a lot in this space about #Crowmentum. The race for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District was looking better for Democrats in 2018 after a couple of near-misses (and “not-so-near” misses) in previous election cycles in which CO-06 was a top battleground in the state. Democrats were cautiously optimistic that first-time candidate Jason Crow could knock off longtime Republican politician Mike Coffman after some encouraging poll numbers and strong fundraising reports.
As it turned out, Crow didn’t just win — he annihilated Coffman by 11 points. Crow’s decisive victory was a surprisingly-strong repudiation of both Coffman and Trump, but there was still an outstanding question about how much CO-6 itself might have really changed. After all, this was a a district that had been represented by a Republican in every year since it was first created — including 5 terms from conservative firebrand Tom Tancredo.
That question will be answered definitively in a little more than one week, but it’s telling in itself that we are barely even discussing CO-06 in 2020. As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post, the CO-06 battleground of the past decade is a much different place today:
For the first time in several election cycles, there has not been an influx of outside money into the 6th District this year. There has been no public polling and no debate. All is quiet in what was once a well-trodden political battleground…
…Crow has run only positive television ads — a common tactic among incumbents who expect to win easily — that have highlighted his work on health care, the environment and coronavirus relief. Over the summer, he took his volunteers off the campaign trail and put them to work sending 67,000 text messages with COVID-19 resources and information to 6th District residents.
So what happened in CO-06? A couple of things: 1) Crow’s margin of victory in 2018 diluted enthusiasm for a 2020 challenge, and 2) Crow had a very successful and high-profile first term in Congress.
We’ll start with the second point first. Crow proved in his freshman term in Congress to be a hard-working, accessible, and likable Representative whose voice was being heard in Washington D.C. For example, an Op-Ed signed by Crow and several other Members of Congress with military/national security backgrounds ultimately might have convinced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to move forward with impeachment hearings against President Trump. Crow was later selected as one of seven Democrats to serve as “impeachment managers” in Trump’s Senate trial. Whether you liked him or not, you couldn’t accuse Crow of not being fully engaged in the job.
But even before Crow proved himself in Congress, his 11-point victory over Coffman in 2018 complicated Republican thinking about 2020. If there was a Republican bench of up-and-comers in CO-06, nobody wanted to sit there anymore.
Thus, Republicans were left with former State GOP Chairman and “CEO” Steve House as their nominee — though only after House convinced professional candidate/grifter Casper Stockham to make a hopeless bid for CO-07 instead. House pushed ahead with a completely forgettable campaign that we — and everybody else — barely noticed, aside from his silly attempts at matching Crow’s military record by pretending that he had the support of people with the word “veteran” in their title.
As Wingerter notes in his story for the Post, House doesn’t appear to be giving himself much of a chance next week, either:
Win or lose, House plans to keep his campaign office on Colfax through the rest of the year. He has bought decks of Scrummy, a vocabulary game developed in Denver, and plans to host tournaments there for local kids after the election.
That sounds nice.
Colorado will likely gain an eighth congressional seat after the 2020 Census numbers are counted, which could significantly alter the makeup of CO-06 in 2022. Redistricting might make Republicans more enthusiastic about challenging Crow in two years — though by that point Crow will be an even stronger candidate than he is already.