Colorado Democratic newcomer defeats 5-term GOP Rep. Coffman
November 6, 2018
DENVER — First-time Democratic candidate Jason Crow defeated five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman on Tuesday in a suburban Denver district.
Crow is a former U.S. Army Ranger who was national Democrats' choice to take on Coffman. He won after outspending the incumbent, who lost TV ad spending from the national Republican Party in the campaign's final weeks.
Coffman is an Army and Marine veteran who until Tuesday had repeatedly won in a district that has increasingly turned Democratic. He faced his toughest challenge yet against Crow.
The Democrat sought to wed Coffman to President Donald Trump's immigration policies. He also criticized the Republican's pro-gun stance in a district that saw the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting.
Coffman represented Colorado's 6th Congressional District since 2009 and served twice in Iraq. Crow served in Iran and Afghanistan.
National Democrats targeted Coffman's district in their bid to flip control of the House. The district that includes Denver's eastern and southern suburbs voted for Hillary Clinton by 9 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election but also re-elected
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Coffman that year by 8 percentage points.
Despite his strong showing two years ago, the midterm election largely centered on the Trump administration and presented
Coffman with his fiercest challenge yet.
Crow's calls for expanded background checks on gun purchases and restricting high-capacity ammunition magazines resonated in a district where a gunman opened fire on a crowded showing of a Batman movie in 2012, killing 12 people. The district also abuts Columbine High School, where two students killed 13 people in 1999.
With the support of gun control groups that were animated in part by February's school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Crow raised more than $5 million compared with Coffman's $3.4 million and outspent the incumbent 3-to-1 on the airwaves.
Coffman opposed blanket gun restrictions but advocated for mental health and school safety measures.
In the campaign, he cited his longtime advocacy for veterans, service in both Iraq wars, his self-described moderate stance on immigration and his occasional bucking of the GOP to try to persuade voters to keep him.
As his district grew more diverse over the years — a fifth of its population is foreign-born — Coffman paid special attention to his immigrant constituency.
Coffman criticized Trump for separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. He also blasted the president for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children or who came with families that overstayed their visas.
In the waning weeks of the race, two groups aligned with national Republican leadership pulled their ad spending for Coffman. Coffman told voters that "establishment Republicans in Washington, D.C., don't know how to fight. I'm a Marine. And I do."
The candidates also had sharp divisions over health care — a key issue for Colorado voters.
Crow assailed Coffman for voting for the GOP tax measure that revoked tax penalties for those who don't buy health insurance. It was a key provision of former President Barack Obama's health care law.
Coffman was booed at town halls last year for insisting that the health law be repealed, though he eventually voted against the GOP effort. He insisted that any replacement legislation guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
Still, Crow depicted Coffman as someone no longer able to act as a check on the party in power.
Crow defended Obama's health law as a first step toward his goal of universal health care. He called for a federal public insurance option to foster competition among insurers and lower rates.