Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., arrives early to talk with reporters during the Colorado Republican election night party at the Doubletree Hotel in Greenwood Village, Colo., Nov. 2, 2010.
Barry Gutierrez/AP

Coffman repackages himself for tough 2014 campaign

By any fair measure, it’d be tough to characterize Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) as somehow moderate. The Club for Growth lists Coffman as having an 82% lifetime rating, while Heritage Action puts the Colorado Republican to the right of most House Republicans.
But the conservative congressman is facing a tough re-election fight against former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D), and as such Coffman is now striking “a decidedly Democratic tone.”
[His new] 30-second spot highlights Coffman’s service as a Marine, his work to protect victims of sexual assault in the military, and his efforts two decades ago as a state legislator to prevent health insurers from discriminating on the basis of gender.
The ad also says he “bucked his own party to help pass the Violence Against Women Act.” His support for the bill’s reauthorization in 2013, with just 32 other House Republicans, won him plaudits from Planned Parenthood, a group that gave him a 0 percent rating on its most recent scorecard.
“It’s nice to know someone has our back,” a woman says at the end of the ad. “That’s Mike Coffman.”
Mike Coffman up until recently supported “Personhood” measures that would ban abortion and many popular forms of contraception. He also celebrated the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby ruling. But now that he’s worried about getting re-elected, all of this is behind him?
The larger significance of this is how common these moves have become.
Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS is running attack ads against red-state Democrats, accusing them of being too conservative when it comes to social-insurance programs. Conservative Republicans are running commercials talking about how eager they are to use government to fight for greater health care access.
And now even Mike Coffman wants to present himself as a champion of women’s issues.
I can’t yet say with confidence what will happen in the 2014 midterms, but if Republicans fare well, as seems likely, the right will no doubt tout their new mandate for a conservative agenda, using the election results to argue this really is a center-right nation.
Their campaign platforms, however, will tell a different story.