Romanoff rallies supporters as CD-6 race heats up
AURORA — After a year of quietly making fundraising calls in preparation for what’s likely to be one of the most competitive congressional races in the country, Andrew Romanoff stepped onto a stage here Sunday afternoon and told his supporters the real campaign is about to begin.
Around 500 people, who filled Dora’s Mexican Restaurant off Parker Road, pledged to help the former statehouse Speaker flip one of the few toss-up districts left in Colorado, never mind the country as a whole.
But Romanoff, a Democrat who lost his 2010 U.S. Senate primary challenge, knows taking out Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, won’t be easy.
“I have a lot of respect for my opponent, both his service to our country and his skills as a campaigner,” said Romanoff. “The tough part, I think, is if you’re part of the least productive Congress in the history of the country it’s going to be hard to win on your record.
“So they’ll try to disguise their record and distort mine. Most people want to know how are you going to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and create jobs, so that’s what my campaign will focus on.”
Coffman, first elected in 2008 to a safe Republican seat long held by Tom Tancredo, saw Democrats re-draw his district in 2012, making it much more favorable to a Democratic challenge.
But Coffman, a former Marine, has never lost an election; and he’s thrown himself into getting to know his new, more diverse district, taking part in Asian dragon parade celebrations, learning Spanish and holding open houses at Hispanic grocery stores.
Last year, Coffman did a 180-degree turn on immigration, pledging to support a path to citizenship for DREAMers and those who are willing to serve in the military.
Romanoff however plans to attack Coffman on the issue — not his personal position so much as his identification with a House GOP caucus that has been an intractable roadblock to comprehensive immigration reform.
“Most folks tell me they want to fix this broken system and they’re frustrated, as I am, with the House’s failure to even take a vote on this,” Romanoff said Sunday. “If I were in Congress today, I would be at the Speaker’s door demanding that there be a vote.
“What matters most of all isn’t what you say in Colorado or what you write in a press release; it’s what you do in Washington. And this Congress has failed to take action on most of the issues Americans share: including immigration reform, raising the minimum wage.”
Coffman’s campaign responded by pointing out that the incumbent passed more legislation last year than any other member of Congress.
“Speaker Romanoff’s cookie cutter campaign conveniently ignores the fact that Mike Coffman passed more legislation than the rest of the Colorado delegation combined in 2013,” said his campaign manager Tyler Sandberg.
“Perhaps Speaker Romanoff should craft his campaign less off of stale talking points from Nancy Pelosi and more on the realities of his newfound district.”
Sandberg’s comment underscores the fact that Romanoff isn’t the only candidate looking to nationalize the race.
On Saturday, at his own campaign kick-off event, Coffman told supporters that voting for Romanoff is a vote for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to re-take the Speaker’s gavel.
Experts, though, don’t give Democrats much of a shot at winning back the House in November.
Former Interior Secretary and U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar and state Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, also addressed Romanoff supporters on Sunday.