Coffman follows Gardner’s lead, flips fast on personhood

Congressman Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, in his district office.

Congressman Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, in his district office.

DENVER — GOP Congressman Mike Coffman is no longer supporting personhood, his campaign confirmed Tuesday, making him the second Republican in the last five days to disavow the movement to ban abortion — even in cases of rape or incest — that he’d previously supported.

Coffman, R-Aurora, made his abrupt 180 on the issue public through his campaign just hours after his opponent, Democrat Andrew Romanoff, challenged Coffman to do so.

“Unfortunately, Congressman Mike Coffman has supported the personhood amendment at every turn,” Romanoff wrote in an email to supporters Tuesday.

“I support a woman’s right to choose. But even some who oppose that right — like Ken Buck and Congressman Cory Gardner — have reversed their position on the personhood amendment. It’s time for Congressman Coffman to do the same.”

Gardner announced his reversal on personhood Friday afternoon, telling the Denver Post that he is still pro-life but can’t support personhood now that he realizes it would also ban birth control, not just abortion (he’s since been under constant attack from Democrats and many pro-life conservatives).

With his heretofore safe 6th Congressional District now a toss-up seat after being redrawn in 2012, Coffman has moved to the middle on issues from immigration to, now, abortion.

And it’s no surprise, given that Coloradans twice rejected personhood by roughly three-to-one margins in 2008 and 2010.

Coffman’s campaign quickly turned the attack around, criticizing Romanoff for focusing on the issue at all, as Democrats targeting Gardner have been doing since he entered the U.S. Senate race last month.

“There’s a reason Democratic Senator Michael Bennet called Speaker Romanoff’s attacks sleazy in 2010 – Romanoff is the Czar of sleaze,” said Tyler Sandberg, Coffman’s campaign manager. “‘Supported it at every turn?’ Mike didn’t in 2012. And he doesn’t in 2014.

“The voters have spoken twice, and the question is settled.  The initiative is over-broad and full of unintended consequences, sort of like Obamacare, which let’s be honest, all of this sleaze from Romanoff is meant to be a distraction from.”

In fact, Coffman has never disavowed personhood until today.

In 2012, he told the Denver Post he “will not be endorsing nor opposing any state or local ballot questions” because he’s running for federal office — which he’s doing again in 2014.

But a 2012 Huffington Post article by Jason Salzman, who is paid by progressives, noted that Coffman “stands alone as a major Colorado politician in close election who has not withdrawn his previous support for the personhood amendment” and quoted two personhood backers praising Coffman for his stance.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, echoing Coffman’s campaign, blasted Romanoff for focusing on personhood.

“It’s despicable that Andrew Romanoff is using women’s issues as a political pawn to distract voters away from his reckless voting record as Speaker of the House,” said the NRCC’s Tyler Q. Houlton.

“Just like in his 2010 failed Senate campaign, professional politician Andrew Romanoff is distorting the facts to now hide his support for President Obama’s failed health care law.”