There’s political irony in the fact that some of the biggest money and biggest competition in the midterm Congressional races can be found in Littleton, Colorado; a town known as “anything but little.” This is part of Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Congressman Michael Coffman is in the race of his life against Democrat challenger Andrew Romanoff.
The 6th district has historically been a Republican safe seat since 1983; however, redistricting changed the electorate and changed the race to a “toss-up.” This once hallowed GOP ground is now favorable political terrain for Democrats. Liberals want it; Conservatives don’t want to let it go.
It’s a pricy battle: political insiders predict an estimated $20 million will be spent by the campaigns and outside interest groups to win.
Coffman is the former Colorado Secretary of State, seeking a fourth term in the U.S. House. He touts his commitment to veterans’ issues during his time in Washington.
Romanoff served in the Colorado House of Representatives and was elected Speaker. After an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 2012, he set his eyes on the U.S. House.
Coffman’s campaign manager Tyler Sandberg refers to Romanoff as an out-of-touch outsider who just recently moved to Aurora.
“After a few hours in the district, he was arrogant enough to think he could represent it,” Sandberg said.
This boomerang-shaped district outlines Denver’s eastern border, it includes a high urban and Hispanic population. The racial breakdown is a virtual mirror image to that of the U.S.: Whites 62%, Latino 20%, Black 10% and Asian 5%.
Given the high Hispanic population, the candidates are focusing on immigration reform. Coffman favors a pathway to legal status for immigrants in the country illegally, as well as citizenship for their children. Romanoff supports comprehensive immigration reform.
Romanoff spokeswoman Denise Baron says Coffman has voted against immigration reform in the past and “no amount of special interest money can erase his record.”
While President Obama has announced delaying any executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections, the issue will dominate the 6th district race. Both campaigns, as well and the national parties, have committed tremendous resources to Hispanic outreach and conveying their immigration message via Hispanic media outlets. Coffman is even learning Spanish for an upcoming Univision debate to be conducted in Spanish.
As for President Obama, while he won the 6th district in 2012, his approval ratings have dropped significantly and Colorado Democrats are distancing themselves from the Commander in Chief. The president recently attended a fundraising event in Colorado and Democrats U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, Gov. John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff did not attend.
GOP leaders were quick to point out that while Romanoff, a Clinton ally, can avoid a photo with the president, he can’t distance himself from the president’s signature achievement, Obamacare. Romanoff supports the Affordable Care Act; Coffman opposes ObamaCare.
This is the House race to watch in November. Judging by the cost and competition here, the Coffman-Romanoff race is ‘anything but little.’