Republican Mike Coffman at a campaign event. [Photo: Coffman campaign]
We finish our week-long look at Colorado’s Congressional races today with the 6th district in the Denver suburbs. It’s always been a GOP stronghold, but because of redistricting, it’s now almost evenly split between Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters. That has the national parties pouring money into the race, as CPR’s Andrea Dukakis reports, for our “Colorado Votes” election coverage.
This is a transcript of Andrea Dukakis' report:
Reporter Andrea Dukakis: Aurora is the big game changer for the 6th Congressional District. The new boundaries take out a big chunk of Republican Douglas county to the south and replace it with the more working class and Democratic north Aurora. But in a recent ad, incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Coffman points to what he thinks are his secret weapons.
Coffman Ad: When I grew up here, Aurora was a military town, middle class families, the backbone of America.
Reporter: Coffman still lives in Aurora. The city’s mayor recently endorsed him. Aurora still has a lot of military retirees, and Coffman plays up his military service in Iraq and his seat on the House Armed Services Committee. Dick Wadhams has been working in Republican politics for more than three decades. He says Coffman can appeal to all sides.
Dick Wadhams: He’s a tremendous campaigner, he matches the district with his Aurora background. In many ways, if this was going to become competitive, the best Republican candidate is there to run.
Reporter: Coffman’s challenger State Representative Joe Miklosi, has a big hurdle to overcome--name recognition.
Joe Miklosi: For those who don’t know me, I’m Joe Miklosi. My wife Jennifer and I live in south Aurora, and I’m the Democrat running for United States Congress.
Reporter: Here he is is at an Aurora senior center recently. Miklosi just moved to Aurora, but he has an Aurora strategy too. It hinges on the Democratic voters there, and on painting his opponent as an extremist.
Miklosi: He’s focused on radical issues like personhood, the Paul Ryan Medicare destruction bills and outlawing abortion even for rape and incest.
Reporter: Miklosi points to Coffman’s vote for GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s budget. Miklosi says it would “destroy” Medicare. Coffman says it would make the program more solvent. Coffman also says some of his priorities will change because the geography was different in the old district.
Coffman:What kept me up at night was wildfire in the mountain areas and water issues in the southern suburbs. What keeps me up in the new district is the poverty in north Aurora.
Reporter: But Democratic State Senator Morgan Carroll says it might not be so easy for Coffman to win over the district’s new voters. She represents many of them, in north Aurora, which voted overwhelmingly for President Obama in 2008. She says her constituents may not forgive Coffman for some of the positions he’s taken in Congress.
Morgan Carroll: Those same positions, to the extent people are voting issues, are going to be a much tougher place for Coffman to be in the new Congressional District 6.
Reporter: But Coffman has been talking a lot about issues he hopes will appeal to the new mix of voters in the 6th district, like the challenges of working class families. And Miklosi is too. He talks about making Colorado the “new energy economy.” Both national parties are betting they have a good chance in the 6th. In the weeks leading up to the election, they plan to spend about five million dollars in television ads on the race.