BREAKING: Mike Coffman Will NOT Run for Senate in 2016

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R) tells another tall tale.

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post with the breaking news confirming what we’ve been saying for months now: Rep. Mike Coffman will NOT challenge Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016:

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman won’t challenge Democrat Michael Bennet in Colorado’s Senate race next year despite being wooed by local and national Republicans.

“It certainly was an option I was looking at,” Coffman, an Aurora Republican, told The Denver Post Monday.

We’re not surprised to hear this announcement from Coffman, nor are we surprised with his attempt to pivot and present himself as a “leader” on the Veterans Hospital fiasco in Aurora — though his aggressiveness on the latter issue raises a few eyebrows. Coffman clearly senses that the Aurora VA Hospital mess is a political problem for him, as it should be — after all, Coffman represents Aurora and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee. Check out the not-so-subtle change of topic by Coffman:

“But the fact is, I’m really able to get things done where I am right now. I’ve emerged as a national leader on veterans issues.”

Problems with a Veterans Administration hospital project in Aurora have made headlines for weeks. The Post reported in May that U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials in Washington knew about management problems with the project as early as May 2011 — seven months before construction began — yet two years passed before any changes were made…

…The left, including ProgressNow Colorado, has tried to blame the VA fiasco on Coffman.

“Coffman can be outraged. He can be frustrated. But he cannot be shocked or surprised when as Chair of the Oversight Committee, he had known this information for years — and until recently has done almost nothing to fix the problem,” said director Amy-Runyon Harms.

Coffman on Monday called the claims “ridiculous,” [Pols emphasis] adding the “culture of bureaucratic incompetency” has gone on for several years at the Veterans Administration.

Coffman is clearly concerned that the VA Hospital could end his political career, which no doubt helped make his decision to run for re-election in CD-6 rather than challenge Bennet in 2016. Perhaps Coffman reasoned that he stood a better chance of withstanding the VA Hospital storm if he was not running statewide at the same time.

Meanwhile, Republicans have to figure out what to do now that their only serious potential Senate challenger has taken a pass. If the GOP had a bench, we’d be looking in that direction ourselves.

43 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Diogenesdemar says:

    He's tanned, he's rested, and he's ready . . . 

    . . . Beauprez 2016 !!

  2. FrankUnderwood says:

    Poor Zapatero is going to be saddened by this news. It means if someone like Ken Buck or Scott Tipton ends up as the GOP candidate, Bennet should win.

  3. Arvadonian1 says:

    Cynthia Coffman.  She can run and hold on to the AG's office while she's doing it.

  4. BlueCat says:

    I think this means both Bennet and Coffman will be staying put.

  5. BlueCat says:

    BTW still think you're way over-stating the risk the VA thing represents to Coffman. Most will just think of him as the one making lots of noise about getting this done for vets and will never hear much else. I think it's more a matter of playing it safe.

    Keeping his CD6 seat will be pretty easy. Even though he probably had a better chance than anyone of taking Bennet's Senate seat that would still have been harder, tougher odds and the CD6 seat could have been lost without an incumbent, too. Once CD6 goes Dem, demographics will probably keep it that way for a good long time. In a year that will be much tougher for Rs than 2014, they decided to play it safer rather than going big.  And I bet everyone in the Colorado GOTP, including Coffman, knows he's a pretty go small kid of guy.

    • Meiner49er says:

      Spot on, BC! This looks a lot more like Coffman for the lock on CD6 and the Rs 4:3 majority in the delegation, rather than Coffman in trouble.

      • BlueCat says:

        Remember when ColPols was saying Morgan Carroll running was "scaring" Coffman into running for the Senate instead? Because he was so afraid of facing her in CD6?  What happened to that theory? Ridiculous.

        I think they have a blind spot where CD6 is concerned. Remember how they had Romanoff considerably ahead in the 2014 Big Line? No matter how many of us were telling them that was absurdly over optimistic? Never mind the polls.  

        Outside of leftie blogs, who's talking, at all, about Coffman being at fault for the VA  debacle because of the sub-committee he heads? If most people hear anything it's Coffman fighting for vets. I think ColPols need to get out of their bubble a little more.  

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          Me thinks thou protests too much Tabby.  The attack ads are going to write themselves regarding Coffman and his non-leadership on the Veterans Oversight committee.  It would have been ramped up if he had run for the Senate.  Now he can just sneak back into his "I'm not responsible" hole and be the kind of incompetent government employee that he ostensibly hates.

          • BlueCat says:

            If you say so. But I just read the Post article on Coffman's decision to stick with the CD run and, while it mentioned his raised national profile as the guy fighting for vets, especially in connection with the Aurora hospital debacle, nowhere did it say a word about anything being his responsibility because of his sub-committee chairmanship.

            Yes, Carroll or whoever could mention it in ads but there must be Dems on that committee, too and if they aren't on record fighting Coffman and the Rs tooth and nail to demand answers and action on the fiasco project, it will be pretty easy to neutralize any attempt to make that a central point of any campaign and not sure the party would much cotton to the idea since nobody, including Dems, is exactly covered in glory over the congressional supervision. Everybody can just stick to…. not our fault they didn't give us accurate info. Once it came out, I, superhero Coffman, leaped into action!

            Protesting too much? I'm not protesting at all. I just see zero evidence in the media, outside of wishful thinking leftie blogs, for the proposition that the VA hospital is a negative for Coffman. And why would I protest? I can't stand Coffman. Also can't stand rah rah wishful thinking. What I'm fond of is objective reality. 


        • hawkeye says:

          IMHO Coffman would probably defeat Morgan Carroll in CD-6, even though it's a swing district.  Coffman will polish up on his Spanish and move to the left, as he will not face a serious challenger in the primary.  Carroll's candidacy would motivate voter turnout among conservatives, especially the NRA folks on the eastern fringe of CD-6.

        • bullshit! says:

          To be fair, BC, I think they said that was just a possibility. They outlined several different scenarios, including the possibility that Coffman would remain in CD-6 to defend the seat.

          • BlueCat says:

            Pu-lease. Look through past ColPol diaries. They're full of Coffman running scared because of the hot water he's in about the VA. Running scared and possibly feeling almost forced to switch to a Senate run because of being so terrified of facing Morgan Carroll in his CD. Look back to 2014 and the nonsensical Big Line that, for a time and without any solid basis, had Romanoff at a 60/40 advantage.  Boots on the ground volunteers were hopeful in the beginning but never as over the top optimistic as that. The misreading of everything CD6 and everything Coffman has been off the charts. And this is too. Total bull.

            • bullshit! says:

              Ok, I'm not going to get into a pissing match about this with you, and the Pols can take care of themselves. But I searched for Coffman posts and found this in one of the more recent ones:

              Sources tell us that as of this writing, Carroll is “leaning toward” entering the CD-6 race. The increasing likelihood of a tough challenge for CD-6 is reportedly giving both Coffman and national Republican strategists pause, delaying what may once have been an easy decision for Coffman to step up to the U.S. Senate race in 2016–though there is debate on this point as well, with some close to the decision maintaining that he has always been unsure about challenging Michael Bennet.

              I don't see anything Pollyannish about their speculation. You're probably right that they were too optimistic about Romanoff last year, but Romanoff underperformed everyone's expectations. That's his fault not this blog's. They've admitted since then that Romanoff got his ass kicked, which is more than some of his supporters can do.

              I do think Morgan worries the GOP if not Coffman personally, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if NRCC encouraged him to stand and fight.

              • BlueCat says:

                You can find more if you go back farther but never mind. 60/40 advantage Romanoff was always Pollyannish and I attended enough events to know that his supporters never believed in an advantage close to that strong, that CD6ers were dismayed and nervous from the beginning with Udall's ad campaign and with Romanoff's, started feeling queasy somewhere between the first lets balance the federal budget ad and the lackluster follow ups. By the end we believed the polls, not the ColPols, and weren't exactly confident.

                They absolutely did run several pieces crowing about the terror Carroll was striking into R hearts and that, though he didn't want to run for Senate, he might be scared into it rather than facing the dread Carroll. So we'll have to agree to disagree but, as a CD 6 voter and long time volunteer, I'm pretty sure I know WTF I'm talking about better than ColPols does in this district. Proof in the pudding and all that. The idea that Coffman and the Rs are terrified of Carroll is sheer delusion. Clearly they think running against her is a much safer, less terrifying bet.

                Boy, I've been getting into a lot of these pissing matches lately. Won't apologize, though. I call 'em like I see 'em and my record ain't half bad. So, for the record, in my opinion it's just a whole lot easier to keep his CD6 seat than to knock off Bennet in a Dem advantage year, the mirror image of 2014 where contested seats are concerned. Simple as that. No breathless theories involving Morgan Carroll terror or, alternately, fear of being blamed for the hospital debacle keeping him from a Senate run required. That's all been a load of breathless bull. That's my take and I'm sticking with it.devil

  6. TobiasFunke says:

    For what it's worth:

    It was about two years ago to the day that the Post reported then-Congressman Haircut Gardner would not be seeking Mark Udall's Senate seat.

  7. mamajama55 says:

    Littwin's piece in the Indy: GOP needs another Gardner; Coffman wasn’t it

    is cogent and insightful re:

    * What led Coffman to decide not to run for Senate

    * Why the GOP has such a limited bench to challenge Bennet:

    So, now the hunt begins. Here’s a list of possibilities courtesy of ace reporter Lynn Bartels, who got the Coffman scoop: U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, state Senate President Bill Cadman, state Senate President Pro Tem Ellen Roberts, state Sen. Owen Hill, Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler (currently trying the James Holmes death penalty case) and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who happens to be Mike Coffman’s wife.

    You see the problem, don’t you? Try putting “U.S. Senator” before any of those names. I mean, without smiling.


    • Half Glass Full says:

      Anything by Littwin is cogent and insightful.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      I was recently reminded that El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn is already an announced candidate for Senate. Which may make it less likely for either Cadman or Hill to run.

      I'd doubt that Scott Tipton will run, given that he's in a safe district. And Ellen Roberts has by and large self-destructed, at least for now.

      • FrankUnderwood says:

        There's always Dr. Chaps.

      • mamajama55 says:

        Thanks for the reminder about Darryl Glenn. Glenn's issue positions are long on  cliches and short on meaningful specifics, as Pols pointed out about Glenn's "Military Policy".  At least, now, Glenn is specifically advocating for boots on the ground. A good thing, too, since Fort Carson already sent 4,000 soldiers from his district to Kuwait. The 3rd Brigade combat team soldiers are still there.  I guess it's easy to advocate for boots on the ground when that's already happened.

        Let's look at another "policy". For example, here is Glenn's "4 point plan to replace the Affordable Care Act"

        Guiding tort reform

        Providing policy options by allowing individuals to purchase insurance across state lines

        Universal coverage of catastrophic health events

        Wellness programs that reward a proactive healthy lifestyle


        That's it, buddy. That's all he has.

        1.Tort reform? Unlikely to affect health care costs.

        2.We can already buy insurance across state lines.

        3.Not sure what he means about "universal coverage of catastrophic health events". People would be allowed to buy that catastrophic insurance? I think that those are the crappy policies with high deductibles that the ACA replaced.

        4. Most workplaces already have wellness programs that "reward a proactive healthy lifestyle". At least, you can win things like a Fitbit, or a $25 gift certificate, or a dress-down day.

        Glenn is young, reasonably attractive, personable, has the military cred, seems to be seriously campaigning, and will fit the dreams of the Tea Party base of El Paso County. He would be eminently electable to, say, Klingenschmitt's HD15 seat. But as a Senator for all of Colorado, he's demonstrably too extreme. If anyone's paying attention. Big if.

        He does not have an active campaign committee now – his last campaign committee, for his county commissioner position, terminated in Dec 2014.

        In sum: Glenn is a fresh face in a suit, saying nice things conservative voters want to hear. Will that be enough for a serious challenge to Michael Bennet? Probably not.


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