on October 15, 2016 by in Golden News, Comments Off on Carroll sees District 6 as competitive

Carroll sees District 6 as competitive

While Rep. Mike Coffman has sought to distance his race for re-election in Congressional District 6 from the presidential race, challenger Morgan Carroll has largely relied on tying the incumbent Aurora Republican to his party’s controversial nominee.

Coffman, 61, doesn’t want to discuss Trump on the campaign trail, but instead wants to focus on keeping the House of Representatives in Republican hands.

“I think the impact of this race is not who is in the White House,” he said.

While Coffman never did endorse Trump, and even released a TV ad in August vowing to stand up to him and saying “I don’t care for him much,” Carroll, a 44-year old Democratic state Senator who is also from Aurora, would point out that he never explicitly disavowed him.

Then came Oct. 7 when audio was leaked of Trump from 11 years ago, bragging to then-“Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush about groping women.

Coffman became one of the first Republicans to call on Trump to drop out of the race, emailing a statement to the Denver Post on the night of the revelations.

However, Coffman’s calls for Trump to exit the race seemed to hinge on electability, not principle.

“For the good of the country, and to give Republicans a chance of defeating Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump should step aside,” he said. “His defeat at this point seems almost certain and four years of Hillary Clinton is not what is best for this country. Mr. Trump should put the country first and do the right thing.”

Coffman won his re-election by nine points in 2014, but Carroll thinks he is more vulnerable this year, with not only a historically unpopular top of the ticket for Republicans but an ever-diversifying district and statewide trends that show Democrats have the edge in voter registration.

The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics calls the race a toss-up, as does political prediction website 270towin.com and The Cook Political Report.

For all of Coffman’s distancing himself from Trump, it hasn’t stopped Carroll’s campaign from linking the two Republicans, noting that the congressman has not publicly said he would not vote for Trump.

“Calling on Trump to step down but still being open to voting for him is simply a profile in poll-watching and political self-preservation,” Carroll said in a statement on Oct. 8.

Carroll has also criticized Coffman for not abandoning Trump over earlier controversies.

Coffman is aware of Carroll’s strategy. He said on Oct. 14 that he hopes Trump will focus on policy for the rest of the campaign, but he does not plan to vote for him. He won’t say who he will vote for, only saying that he won’t vote for Clinton either.

“She wants to make it all about Trump,” he said of Carroll.

In addition, Carroll cites low congressional approval ratings as an opportunity for her.

“Nobody thinks Congress is doing a good job,” she said.

Both Carroll and Coffman tout a willingness to work across the aisle, but each accuses the other of partisanship.

“She’s never willing to criticize a Democrat,” Coffman said.

Carroll said she is hopeful that she could find bipartisan consensus on criminal justice reform in the house, drawing on her experience while interning with a drug court program while in law school.

“At one point not that long ago half the felonies in this state were drug possession,” she said.

Carroll also hopes to find agreement mental health and immigration reform in the house, while Coffman says he goes against fellow Republicans on some immigration issues and by wanting to rein in Pentagon spending.

“I’ve had both Democrat and Republican governors,” Carroll said.

She said she joined with legislators on both sides earlier this year to rid the state of red light cameras on civil libertarian grounds, but the bill was vetoed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.

Carroll said she also wants to go to Washington to tackle student loan debt, which she calls “the single biggest financial crisis we’ve got.”

“It’s surpassed credit card debt, it’s actually surpassed the housing crisis during the recession,” she said. “And the frustrating thing is, this isn’t something Congress can’t do anything about. Congress decides what the interest rates are; whether, if, and how people are allowed to refinance their loans.”

Coffman said he wants to make home ownership easier via tax-advantaged savings plans and construction law defect reform to encourage building lower-cost townhomes and condos.

“Half of the renters are paying a third or more of their income in rent,” he said, citing a Harvard University study.

He also said he wants to save Buckley Air Force Base, the district’s biggest employer, from closure.

Both candidates say they want to reform the Veterans Administration, and with the debacle surrounding the Aurora VA Hospital construction, it weighs heavily in the district.

On military and veterans issues, Coffman leans on his background as a retired Marine Corps officer and veteran of the Gulf War and the Iraq War and his work on Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs committees in the house.

Since the district was redrawn following the 2010 census, Coffman has worked to better his outreach to its high minority and immigrant population – learning Spanish, appearing at cultural events and pushing for immigration reforms in the house. The district now is approximately one-fifth Hispanic and has large Asian and African immigrant populations as well.

While opponents have criticized this as pandering, noting the Coffman has co-sponsored legislation to make English an official national language.

Following a narrow win in the district 2012 in which he says he didn’t do enough outreach in his newly-diverse territory, Coffman won a landslide victory in 2014 over Andrew Romanoff.

“There’s no question that this is a swing district and this is one a Democrat can win,” Carroll said. “(Barack) Obama won this district twice, Hickenlooper won this district twice, Michael Bennet won this district, I’ve been elected four times from within this district.”

Coffman admits that he has ran up against a perception by some of his immigrant constituents that Republicans hate immigrants – even legal ones. He also knows that in the year of Trump — who kicked off his presidential run with a speech characterizing Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers – that down-ballot Republicans could be collateral damage.

“I’m lucky that I’m well-known in the district,” he said. “I think that if I were running for the first time, it wouldn’t go well.”

But he says there’s another reason for his success amongst immigrants.

“The Democrats take them for granted,” he said.

Less than a month out from Election Day, Coffman seems to have grown weary of discussing the presidential race.

“The race I’m focused on is my own,” he said.


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