Top Ten Stories of 2015 #9: Coffman Stumbles, Carroll Rises in CO-6

Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Sen. Morgan Carroll (D).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R) faces a tough re-election challenge in state Sen. Morgan Carroll (D) .

As we wrap up the political happenings of 2015, we can glance ahead to this time next year and make a prediction: Whatever happens in Congressional District 6 will end up as one of the Top 10 stories of 2016. And if next year continues along the same trend line as 2015, the outcome of CD-6 will easily crack the Top 3.

It is quite possible that 2016 will be the end of the line for Mike Coffman after three decades as an elected official; if so we’ll look back on 2015 as the year when everything started to go wrong for the four-term Aurora Congressman.

At this time last year, Coffman was basking in the glow of a November beatdown of Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff. National pundits had agreed that CD-6 was a “toss-up” race in 2014, but then Coffman went ahead and thrashed Romanoff 52-43 in one of the bigger political surprises in Colorado. Buoyed by such a dominating re-election victory, Coffman entered 2015 as the top Republican recruit for the 2016 U.S. Senate race. Republicans were licking their respective chops over the idea of taking out incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet – just one cycle after Republican Cory Gardner defeated Sen. Mark Udall – and they believed that Coffman was the man to make it happen. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell personally wooed Coffman on multiple occasions, including a much-publicized breakfast meeting that was intended to seal the deal once and for all.

Coffman ultimately decided against running for Senate in 2016, and in retrospect, Republicans may be glad that he declined. A year that began with such promise for Coffman devolved quickly, and he now heads into another re-election effort with all the momentum of a two-legged turtle.

Just a few weeks after Coffman announced that he would seek re-election in CD-6, charismatic state Sen. Morgan Carroll made it official that she would run for his seat in 2016. To say that Carroll was the top choice for Democrats would be almost an understatement – she was #1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on the list of potential candidates and immediately cleared the rest of the field (unless you count Perry Haney, and we don’t). Republicans understood the threat, too, with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) immediately launching attacks trying to label Carroll as an “extreme liberal.” In fact, national Republicans had begun dogging Carroll months before she entered the race.

Carroll’s confident candidacy energized Democrats who worried that Coffman’s 2014 victory would make CD-6 untouchable in the near future. The likable, photogenic Carroll has been a darling of the Democratic base for years and had been touted as a potential candidate for everything from Attorney General to Governor. Soon after she entered the race, national pundits began to move CD-6 back into the “toss-up” realm.

But it wasn’t just Carroll’s potential that had people taking a fresh look at the district. In the same month that Carroll announced her candidacy, Coffman reported his worst fundraising quarter in the last four years. He was besieged with political problems, none more bothersome than the mess surrounding the over-budget and long overdue construction of a new Veterans’ Administration hospital in Aurora. The fact that the VA delays were taking place in his own backyard would be problem enough for Coffman – even if he wasn’t serving as the Chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommitee for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Coffman’s “oversight” ended up being little more than an endless display of finger-pointing and name calling, and Carroll’s campaign wasted no time in pointing out those inconsistencies.

Problems with the VA Hospital project – which became front-page news in Colorado — were just one of many troubles in a difficult year for Coffman. His last name was dragged through the national media after his wife, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, helped spearhead a bizarre coup attempt against newly-elected State GOP Chair Steve House. Mike Coffman’s top political aide, Tyler Sandberg, departed for a consulting job just before the August recess, and the staff changes did not go well. Coffman’s new spokesperson Cinamon Watson quickly stuck both feet into her mouth in responding to a 2014 campaign ad in which Coffman indicated support from Planned Parenthood – an organization he has voted to defund a half-dozen times (and directly criticized throughout the fall). That issue became even more problematic for Coffman in the wake of a terrorist attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, on which Coffman barely commented.

It’s certainly possible for Coffman to turn things around in 2016 – it’s hard to see things getting much worse – and history has shown Coffman to be a savvy politician who is difficult to dispatch. Yet Coffman isn’t showing signs of improvement (witness his absolute terror in the face of questions about GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump) and his tough-talking military shtick could really backfire against a strong female opponent like Morgan Carroll.


Looking for more on our Top 10 political stories of 2015?

  1. The GOP Discovers the Animas River

24 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. yameniye says:

    Here is a link to an article in the Military.Com.

    The Department of Defense said of nearly 207,000 people who left the military last year, just 9 percent received what's referred to as "bad paper." Still, that's more than 18,000 people last year and more than 352,000 since 2000, Defense Department data shows.

    U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican who's on the House Armed Services Committee, believes many of those men and women suffered battle-related problems that affected their behavior, especially PTSD and traumatic brain injury. A 2005 study showed Marines deployed to combat who were diagnosed with PTSD were 11 times more likely to receive less-than-honorable discharges, said Brad Adams, an attorney who works with the San Francisco-based organization Swords to Plowshares.

    Varying levels of bad paper discharges exist. A general discharge is for those whose service was generally satisfactory, but who engaged in minor misconduct or received non-judicial punishment. Recipients are usually eligible for VA medical and dental services, VA home loans and burial in national cemeteries, but can't receive educational benefits through the GI Bill.

    And, guess what?

    He forgot to say what should happen to these vets who have a less than honorable discharge!!!!

    Dental is for those who got shot in the mouth or are 100% disabled. It is not for the general VA medical center visitor.

  2. JeffcoBlue says:

    2016 is the year Coffman goes down.

  3. davebarnes says:

    Morgan rising?
    Do you have some polls to suport this silly assertion?
    Data talks and bullshit walks.

    • Andrew Carnegie says:

      Of course not.

      Facts, who needs facts?

      CD-6 is the district Dems lose that they somehow believe they should win.

    • Colorado Pols says:

      In politics, you're either rising or you're falling. Morgan certainly isn't falling right now.

    • mamajama55 says:

      No polls, but fundraising data and pundits painting CD6 purple. Cook calls CD6 a tossup.

      Hey, I'm sick of talking about Casper Stockham – did you know Chuck Norris was running against Diana Degette in CD1?

      No, not that Chuck Norris, silly bear.


      • BlueCat says:

        Does it matter which Chuck Norris?wink

      • Andrew Carnegie says:

        Fundraising data and pundits painted CD-6 purple and a toss-up in 2014.  Ask Congressman Romanoff how that turned out.

      • notaskinnycook says:

        Glancing at the link, it actually looks like he's trying to get to the left of her. He's got no chance, but maybe he'll drag her back on target in some of the areas where her ultra-safe seat has allowed her to get a bit lazy.

        • mamajama55 says:

          Spot on, cook. If I lived in Degette's district, I might even vote for Norris in the primary.

        • BlueCat says:

          A constitutinal convention? Yeah, that'll happen.

          • FrankUnderwood says:

            Marco Rubio wants to call one too….. to impose term limits on Congress and Supreme Court, and a balanced budget amendment. And whatever else they decide to take up…….


            • BlueCat says:

              No matter who says they want such a thing there just isn't going to be an entire constitutional convention any time in the foreseeable future. How long has it been since we've actuallyratified a single new amendment? The bar is way too high in our present era of thoroughly divided politics. 

              But enough of that. The year is almost over…

              Have safe New Year celebrations and all the best for a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year.

              May 2016 be filled with light, love and peace. May our memories of those friends and loved ones, including the four legged ones, who were with us last year but no longer be sweet, bring us comfort and even make us smile.

              To all who had a hard year may this coming one be much easier. To all who had a wonderful year may good fortune continue.

              Happy New Year.

              • Duke Cox says:

                Thanks, BC…..and to those fine words, may I add these (begging the indulgence of my AFT friends) old Irish blessing..

                May the road rise to meet you,
                May the wind be always at your back.
                May the sun shine warm upon your face,
                The rains fall soft upon your fields.
                And until we meet again,
                May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

                May God be with you and bless you:
                May you see your children's children.
                May you be poor in misfortune,
                Rich in blessings.
                May you know nothing but happiness
                From this day forward.

                May the road rise up to meet you
                May the wind be always at your back
                May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
                And may the hand of a friend always be near.

                May green be the grass you walk on,
                May blue be the skies above you,
                May pure be the joys that surround you,
                May true be the hearts that love you. 

                …and may you be in heaven 15 minutes before the Devil knows yours dead. smiley 

                Prospero Ano y Felicidad !

  4. mamajama55 says:

    Did you photoshop in the underarm sweat stain on Coffman, or is that all him?

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