DENVER — Former statehouse Speaker Andrew Romanoff has been uncharacteristically forward of late about his interest in running again for elected office.
But Romanoff, who was in Washington, DC meeting with top Democrats over Inauguration weekend, isn’t the only person looking at challenging GOP Congressman Mike Coffman in 2014.
Former state Rep. Karen Middleton told FOX31 Denver Thursday that she too has met with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington and is gauging support for a run in Coffman’s Sixth Congressional District.
Middleton, who left the legislature in 2010 to run Emerge America, a group focused on encouraging more women to run for elected office, believes that Coffman, who eked out reelection last November over a relatively unknown Democratic challenger, can be beaten.
“I feel like having a woman in this race is really important,” Middleton told FOX31 Denver. “Women voters have made the difference in so many recent elections and, especially in this district, that profile could be really effective because Coffman is so out of touch with women.”
Middleton criticized Coffman for not doing more to deliver services to his district.
“We just need a stronger voice,” she said.
Currently, only one member of Colorado’s nine-member congressional delegation is a woman, Denver Rep. Diana DeGette.
“I have been so struck by how many women have served in the legislature in Colorado,” Middleton said. “Yet we only have one woman in the federal delegation, and we have never had a woman governor or U.S. Senator.
“I think Colorado is ripe for seeing more women candidates.”
For now, Middleton, who has met with Democratic officials in Colorado and Washington, is focused on gauging her support from within the district.
“I have had similar meetings [to Romanoff],” she said. “The more important conversations at this stage are right here in the district. I’m evaluating what the climate is and looking to confirm where Aurora is, what’s on voters minds, what they care about, and that means a lot of meetings, community activities and events.”
Middleton, who served as Romanoff’s policy director back in 2004, isn’t worried about a potential Democratic primary, at least not yet.
“I think Andrew has served Colorado well,” she said.
She and Romanoff have not spoken about the C.D. 6 race.
“From a strategic perspective, I think it’s always better to avoid a primary,” she said. “I think it makes a lot of sense for us to evaluate who’d be the strongest candidate before jumping into a primary situation. I’d just want to have everyone do their due diligence and make sure we have the strongest Democratic candidate on the ballot in 2014.”
But, Middleton said the recent media coverage of Romanoff’s early movements is indicative of the way women candidates are often overlooked or counted out, the very trend she’s spent the last two years trying to reverse.
“Too often, women are counted out early,” she said. “Already in last ten days, there’s been a lot of media coverage as if there’s only one candidate. sometimes women aren’t the best at advocating for themselves.
“But considering [the C.D. 6 race] a done deal this early seems unwise.”