With House Control On The Line, Coffman’s Fate Is In The Hands Of Voters

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<p>David Zalubowski/AP</p>
<p>U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., who represents Congressional District 6, greets voters at the Great Wall Chinese Academy, a school that teaches Mandarin language and Chinese culture Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018.</p>
Photo: Election 2018 CD 6 | Rep. Mike Coffman - AP
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., who represents Congressional District 6, greets voters at the Great Wall Chinese Academy, a school that teaches Mandarin language and Chinese culture Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018.

The 6th Congressional District is Colorado’s only truly competitive congressional race this election. While recent polls give Democratic challenger Jason Crow a lead, no one is counting out Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. He has repeatedly won in this diverse district, defying the odds and out performing polls.

The district includes all of Aurora, the state’s third largest city, and parts of Denver’s southern suburbs.

The race between Coffman and Crow is about much more than these two men. It is one of roughly two dozen seats Democrats need to flip to win control of the House. The election could also play out as a referendum on President Donald Trump’s vision.

Kathryn Lewis is a registered Republican who’s voted for Coffman in previous elections. She believes he will work with the Trump administration to push forward the GOP’s agenda.

Photo: CD6 2018 Voters 1 | Kathryn Lewis
Voter Kathryn Lewis will stick with Rep. Mike Coffman.

“Certainly we have thrived under this administration between the last election and this election and so we will vote to continue that direction,” she said.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, she was in Littleton watching her grandchild play soccer. She finds Trump’s speech off-putting, “but he gets things done. And we like that.”

For his part, Coffman has been trying at times to separate himself from the president. He’s vocal when he disagrees with Trump. He’s pushed back most strongly on immigration, opposing the family separation policy at the Mexican border and backing a version of DACA. He’s criticized Trump’s idea of ending birthright citizenship through an executive order.

Immigrants are a key part of Coffman’s support. Campaign manager Tyler Sandberg said the “immigrant communities in which the Congressman has built deep and trusting relationships are working harder than they have before.”

Those groups helped propel Coffman to victory in 2016 in a district Hillary Clinton won by 9 points. But for Coffman to survive this time, he also needs solid Republican turnout and support from less partisan suburban women.

The challenge is the so-called “blue wave” of motivated Democrats.

David Vari of Parker is a Democrat who has already voted for Jason Crow. Vari feels Coffman toes the Republican party line too much and won’t stand up to Trump. “I think the check and balance is really important,” so Vari doesn’t want Republicans in charge of everything in Washington, especially with a president he thinks is taking the country in the wrong direction.

Photo: Election 2018 CD6 | Jason Crow - AP
Democratic candidate for U.S. House District 6, Jason Crow, greets canvassers as they head out to round up votes from Hinkley High School Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Aurora, Colo.

“If we had more of that consistently, maybe we’d have more people working together to solve problems and come up with decent bills, as opposed to the pendulum swings we get now,” he said. “It’s like we do something and all we do is pull it back for the next four years and then pull it back some more. That’s not helpful. That doesn’t actually serve anybody’s interests.”

Democratic control of the House has been a central part of Crow’s campaign. The first-time candidate is pledging to be a check on the president.

“What you say matters and it has an impact,” Crow said of Trump. “I think we have to have leadership that pushes back on that and says who we are as a country and a people and what we’re willing to put up with and what we’re not.”

Voters have been inundated with ads, and many, like Keri Houston of Littleton, said they’re ready for this election to be over.

Houston said she doesn’t trust anything she hears from ads or flyers and researched both candidates thoroughly on her own. She said she based her vote mostly on who she felt had the best moral character, but declined to say who that was.

“It’s a sticky conversation of saying who you voted for and who you didn’t vote for.” Houston said. “We do live in a wonderful purplish state so there’s a good balance of Democrat and Republican and I still think people keep that to themselves for the most part.”

Democrats have tried for six years to unseat Coffman from this district since it was redrawn. In recent weeks though, some national Republican groups have pulled money out of the race. But Coffman’s campaign points out he’s beaten the odds in past elections, despite declining Republican voter registration and an increasingly younger and more diverse district. He believes his record here will carry him through.