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October 19, 2016 04:32 PM UTC

The Most Pivotal Debate of 2016: Carroll v. Coffman, Round 3

  • by: Colorado Pols
Rep. Mike Coffman (R) and state Sen. Morgan Carroll (D) debate for the third and final time on Thursday.
Rep. Mike Coffman (R) and state Sen. Morgan Carroll (D) debate for the third and final time on Thursday evening.

The final Presidential debate of 2016 takes place tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada. Republican Donald Trump, whose campaign has been in a seemingly-bottomless free-fall for the last two weeks, has one final chance to try to gain some positive momentum as he stares down Democrat Hillary Clinton on Primetime television.

You could certainly make an argument that Trump is out of time to re-shape the Presidential race, regardless of what happens tonight. For Colorado voters, the most pivotal debate of the 2016 election now looks likely to come on Thursday, when Democrat Morgan Carroll takes on incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in a half-hour showdown that 9News will air live at 7:00 pm.

Coffman is stumbling badly as he nears the finish line in an effort to win re-election for the fifth time in CO-6. On Tuesday, Coffman turned in an absolutely brutal performance in an interview with Kyle Clark of 9News that was widely discussed throughout the next 24 hours. Check out what 5280 magazine’s Luc Hatlestad wrote today for


On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R) told 9News, “I don’t know if I’ll cast a vote for president. I’m not going to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. I’m struggling with it like many other Americans.”

But Mike Coffman needs to vote. It doesn’t matter whether he casts a ballot for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, or for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. It doesn’t matter if he logs a write-in protest vote for Ted Cruz or Mike Pence or Ronald Reagan’s ghost. It only matters that he does it.

It matters because Coffman helped enable the rise of Trump. He’s far from alone, as plenty of other Republicans and independents abetted this, as did anyone on the left who ignored or dismissed the woes of our working-class neighbors over the past 10 to 15 years.

But the line from Coffman’s own words and actions leads more directly to Trump than most. Coffman was one of the feckless pols who readily jumped onboard the “birther” bandwagon when it served him politically, then leapt off when it suddenly didn’t. He supported Marco Rubio in the GOP primary but promised to back the party’s nominee through much of the summer.

Coffman is running out of places to stand on any number of issues.
Coffman is running out of places to stand on any number of issues.

If you think that sounds bad for Coffman, consider that this was just one of the significant mistakes he made during his interview with Clark. Near the end of the segment, Clark asked Coffman if he bore any responsibility for helping Trump’s divisive rise to the top of the Republican ticket in 2016. Click here to read the full exchange of what turned out to be an epic disaster for Coffman as he tried to downplay his past comments that President Obama “is not an American” by claiming that his statements weren’t relevant because nobody outside of the room was supposed to hear what he said:

COFFMAN: Well, first of all, I, first of all it was wrong, it was boneheaded, I said it was, thought it was a private conversation I was having, it was being, it was taped…

CLARK: You were speaking on stage with a microphone. [Pols emphasis]

By all accounts, Coffman and his campaign have been reeling for weeks thanks to a combination of Coffman’s boneheaded moves and Carroll’s aggressive — but fair — onslaught through both paid and earned media efforts (see here and here for examples). It hasn’t helped matters that seemingly every anti-Carroll commercial put on TV by Coffman and Republicans has resulted in a negative fact-check report from local media outlets…which Carroll has now rolled together into another crushing TV ad.

Coffman was thoroughly shredded by his hometown Aurora Sentinel when the newspaper endorsed Carroll one day after Coffman turned in an awful debate performance in an event hosted by Channel 4, Colorado Public Television, and KOA radio on Oct. 12. This second debate followed an earlier debate hosted by Univision in which Coffman inexplicably repeated his 2014 Spanish-language closing statement virtually word-for-word.

Thursday’s final CD-6 debate comes as Colorado voters are beginning to receive their mail ballots and undecided voters are looking for a reason to ditch Coffman in favor of the more charismatic and straightforward Carroll. It’s no stretch to say that Thursday’s debate could be the single most important 30 minutes of Coffman’s political career. It certainly qualifies as the most interesting Colorado political debate after Republican Darryl Glenn was pummeled senseless by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) in the only televised Senate debate of the cycle.

So while tonight may be the final Presidential debate of 2016, you’ll have to wait another day for the biggest rhetorical battle in Colorado politics this election cycle.


One thought on “The Most Pivotal Debate of 2016: Carroll v. Coffman, Round 3

  1. I wonder if Mike will follow his party leader and refer to his opponent as that "nasty woman." But I'm guessing he won't use the term "bad hombres."

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