Could Romanoff, after 9-point loss, challenge Coffman again in 2016?

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DENVER — In the congressional race thought to be the most competitive of the entire 2014, Republican Congressman Mike Coffman, thought to be the most vulnerable GOP incumbent in Congress, bested Andrew Romanoff, thought to be a blue chip Democratic recruit, by nine points.

So it makes perfect sense that Democrats are already gearing up to go after Coffman in 2016, when they hope the higher voter turnout that comes in a presidential year will give them a better chance to go after the incumbent in a district that will continue to be — at least on paper — up for grabs.

On Thursday, former Democratic state Rep. Edward Casso of Commerce City tweeted that he has formed an exploratory committee for a possible run in Coffman’s 6th Congressional District.

At roughly the same time Thursday, Roll Call’s Abby Livingston reported from Washington, DC that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is planning to ask Romanoff to run against Coffman again in 2016.

Romanoff, who sat out 2012 and then announced his decision to challenge Coffman in 2014 almost as soon as the calendar turned to 2013 and spent the full two-year cycle raising an impressive $5 million, only garnered 43 percent of the vote in the re-drawn district.

But he lost by nine points amidst a GOP wave after failing to make inroads with blue collar voters in Adams County and to overcome Coffman’s withwering portrayal of the former statehouse Speaker as a self-interested carpetbagger who moved from Denver to the suddenly competitive district simply because he saw it as a way to get to Washington.

“Democrats might want to more soberly assess Coffman’s vulnerability or lack thereof,” said political analyst Eric Sondermann, who called Thursday’s 2016 speculation “premature.”

“It’s not that they didn’t beat him this year with their star candidate; it’s that they didn’t come close. Even if the DCCC wants to play again, there is likely to be fatigue among Democratic donors here in Colorado.”

Donor fatigue notwithstanding, the DCCC doesn’t have many other candidates who have been able to raise money at the clip Romanoff has.

To Republicans, Coffman’s margin of victory demonstrates that he has a firm hold on what appears to be a competitive district for as long as he wants the seat (much like Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s consecutive wins have shown in Colorado’s seemingly competitive 7th congressional district).

“After a devastating nine-point loss, perennial loser Andrew Romanoff should hang it up and find a new career outside of politics,” said Tyler Q. Houlton, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Colorado voters overwhelmingly reelected Marine Corps combat veteran Mike Coffman and he will have no problem dispatching Ed Casso or any other professional politician Washington Democrats decide to recruit.”

But Democrats don’t appear to be convinced of the incumbent’s invincibility — especially in a presidential election cycle that is expected to be more favorable to them.

And they’re also not convinced Coffman will be running for reelection in his current seat in two years.

Coffman has shrugged off speculation that he could challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016, but many political observers continue to view him in the top tier of potential senate challengers.

It would be the ultimate irony if Romanoff, known now for picking the wrong races in the wrong election cycles, passed on a rematch in 2016 only to watch Coffman abandon the seat and allow another Democrat an opening.

On the Democratic side, many insiders view outgoing state Senate President Morgan Carroll and NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado Executive Director Karen Middleton, two women from Aurora, as potential candidates in the 6th C.D.

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