Rep. Mike Coffman: He's Anti-Middle Class (he's also Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Woman, Anti-Student - and a Birther)
October 24, 2012 - 12:01pm ET
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Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman was elected to Congress in a heavily Republican district two years ago. As the successor to far-right Rep. Tom Tancredo, all Coffman needed to do to keep his seat was continue the extremist words and deeds of his predecessor.
Or so he must have thought.
Then the boundaries of his district were changed. Now his constituents reflect the demographics of his state and his nation a lot more than they did before. Suddenly Rep. Coffman, who scored a "zero" in an analysis of his voting record for the middle class, is facing a democratic cross-section of voters.
Judging from his record, Mike Coffman doesn't seem to like that idea very much. As Colorado State Treasurer, Coffman was sued for illegally removing minority voters' names from the rolls. His actions were consistent with a nationwide Republican strategy of using illegal and unethical tactics to disenfranchise minority and lower-income voters.
Coffman doesn't seem to like the law very much, either. It took a warning from the judge to slow him down, after he told reporters that he would ignore the judge's cease-and-desist order, then continued to illegally disenfranchise Colorado voters. The judge was finally forced to say that "he'll be listening me personally" if Coffman didn't stop violating Federal law.
Coffman has had nothing but praise for anti-immigrant predecessor Tancredo, carrying on his tradition by pushing to repeal laws which provide for ballots in languages other than English. His voter purges were largely directed at Hispanic voters, according to the complaint filed by Common Cause. That's a group of voters he probably never thought he'd have to face again once he'd won the "safe" GOP seat once held by a rabid anti-immigrant. As the result of redistricting, however, Coffman's district is now 20 percent Hispanic.
Coffman's now locked in a tight race, and his own extremist words and deeds are coming back to haunt him. He earned his 'zero' from the Middle Class Voters Guide (more about the Guide here) by voting for the Ryan budget, which dismantles Medicare and replaces it with an increasingly worthless voucher; by rejecting the job-creating (and deficit-cutting) Progressive Caucus budget; and with a number of other votes that would kill American jobs and deprive middle- and lower-income Americans of financial security. (More details here.)
Coffman's been having some trouble backing away from his "birther" comments, in which he's said things like "I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American." He's been hiding out from both reporters and voters since those remarks became a campaign issue.
The local Channel 9 News reports on an eerie encounter with a reporter where Coffman was incapable of doing anything other than robotically repeat "I misspoke" and "I apologize." Reporter Clark took to Twitter to say "I have never had a more bizarre encounter with a politician than the one I had tonight."
Coffman takes a number of other far-right positions which put him in opposition to many of his own constituents. His opposition to the right to choose, and his extreme positions on fetal "personhood," won't help him much with women. Neither will remarks like this one: "My position (is) clear, unequivocally, that I oppose abortion in all cases of rape and incest ..."
Needless to say, Coffman is anti-gay rights, too, which should alienate another bloc of voters in his district. And he's put himself in opposition to younger voters by opposing student aid for any education that doesn't directly lead to "technical" employment in a related field.
When it comes right down to it, Mike Coffman has fought the interests of most voters in his district: the middle class, Hispanics, women, gays, young people, and lower-income people. So who does he represent? His campaign contributions give us a pretty good idea. His top contributors include defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman; the National Auto Dealers Association; and a host of cable TV companies and realtor groups. Other top contributors include oil and gas companies as well as large corporate law firms.
CREDO and other progressive groups have targeted Coffman for his far-right, Tea Party views. That's a good idea, one that's reinforced by his "zero" score on support for the middle class.
Mike Coffman's biggest problem on Election Day may be the fact you can't purge everybody from the voter rolls. But the race remains close, thanks to the conservative enclaves in Coffman's district, and the corporate millions in his campaign coffers. Challenger Joe Miklosi has pulled within three points of his opponent. He can use all the help he can get to bring better representation to Colorado's Sixth Congressional District.
Campaign for America's Future is running an ad campaign which tells voters about vulnerable Representatives who have low ratings in the Middle Class Voter Guide. You can contribute to the campaign by clicking here.
Joe Miklosi's campaign website is here.
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Views expressed on this page are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Campaign for America's Future or Institute for America's Future