Shutdown, impasse adding to Coffman’s vulnerability

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, inside his Washington, DC office.

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, inside his Washington, DC office.

DENVER — Rep. Mike Coffman isn’t among the 70 or 80 House Republicans most responsible for the ongoing government shutdown.

But, as perhaps the most vulnerable member of the House GOP caucus after seeing his district re-drawn in 2012, he’s more likely than most of his more strident colleagues to pay the price next November.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has had Coffman in its sights since last November when he won reelection by just two points, conducted a poll of voters in his district last week and found that 75 percent of them are open to electing someone else to represent them in 2014.

But the Democratic challenger, Andrew Romanoff, only leads Coffman by a 43-42 percent margin at the moment, according to the poll released to FOX31 Denver on Tuesday.

Of the survey of 475 likely voters in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, 68 percent disapprove of the government shutdown; and 51 percent of respondents blame Republicans for causing it, compared with 38 percent blaming Democrats.

Coffman initially supported the House Republicans’ strategy of refusing to fund the government unless Democrats granted some concessions to weaken or roll back the Affordable Care Act.

During the first week of the shutdown, Coffman told FOX31 that House Republicans were doing what’s right and that he would accept the consequences, whatever they turn out to be.

“I’m a Marine Corps combat veteran and my job is to lead and to do what’s right, no matter the consequences,” Coffman said on Sept. 30. And so whatever the consequences of doing what’s right in leadership are, I’m willing to take those consequences.”

Then, last week, Coffman abruptly broke ranks with House GOP leaders, as polls showed seven of 10 Americans disapproving of congressional Republicans.

In an Op-Ed column, Coffman bashed those pursuing the GOP’s hard-line strategy for pursuing “nothing more than an exercise in national fundraising” and urged his colleagues to support a clean continuing resolution to re-open the government.

“I have done my best to delay, de-fund and dismantle all or parts of Obamacare because I believe that much of it will be harmful to this country in the long run,” Coffman wrote on Oct. 8. “However, the debate over attaching Obamacare to a spending bill must end and I will argue before my colleagues in the House that we need to pass a “clean” spending bill to immediately reopen the government.”

But while signaling his willingness to vote in favor of a clean “C.R.”, which Speaker John Boehner was never going to bring to the House floor for a vote, Coffman would not go as far as to vote with Democrats on procedural matters that could have allowed a majority of members to replace various piecemeal spending bills brought by the GOP with the clean funding resolution that has already passed the Senate.