Mike Coffman's victory and the power of the incumbency
Mike Coffman has been declared the winner in the race for the 6th District, with Joe Miklosi, his Democratic rival (update), waiting until past 1 a.m. to concede; see his statement below. This loss demonstrates once again the power of the incumbency even in the case of what seemed to be a vulnerable candidate -- as if the victories of every other current office holder in Colorado's congressional delegation hadn't done so already.
Here's what Miklosi had to say:
I want to congratulate Mike Coffman on his victory. I wish him and the next Congress much success to solve our nation's most pressing problems. I want to thank my dedicated staff and volunteers for their tremendous support. This campaign was about representing the middle class, creating quality jobs and ensuring Coloradans have the opportunity to achieve their own unique version of the American Dream. I am so proud of all the work we did to promote the middle class values we hold so dear, and even though we weren't victorious, the work that goes into making sure all Coloradans are fairly represented never ends. I will continue to be an advocate for the hard-working people of Colorado, and I can't thank my supporters enough.
For his part, Coffman made not one by two major gaffes that earned him embarrassing national face time this year.
During a May fundraiser in Elbert County, Coffman told the audience, "I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American."
These lines made Coffman seem as if he'd embraced birtherism -- not a wise move for a guy whose district lines had been withdrawn and diversified to the point that it was no longer a lock for a Republican. And then, to compound the situation, he was quizzed about the remarks in an impromptu interview by 9News' Kyle Clark, and his stubborn unwillingness to do anything other than repeat a stock line about misspeaking and apologizing was flat-out hilarious, allowing MSNBC's Rachel Maddow to turn Coffman into a national laughingstock. See those segments below.
Yet despite a well-financed campaign, Miklosi was unable to make Coffman truly pay for these stumbles. Why? Perhaps these incidents took place too many months prior to the election for many voters to fix on them. Or maybe it's because the Coffman team ran a smart campaign that focused on commercials picturing him as a solid good guy even as 527s blistered Miklosi. And that, plus the name recognition that comes with having served for years, was enough, as seen in the most recent 9News graphic depicting the latest numbers.
Yes, only 71 percent of precincts have reported thus far -- and the race is tighter than the other six in Colorado: Doug Lamborn won by more than fifty points, Diana DeGette by forty-plus, and Cory Gardner, Jared Polis, Scott Tipton and Ed Perlmutter (defeating the well-heeled Joe Coors) earned comfortable double-digit victories
But if 6 percent seems like a squeaker in this context, it's also an indication of how difficult it is to vote a member of Congress out of office once he's in. As long as Coffman doesn't spew a phrase along the lines of "legitimate rape" in the lead-up to an election, he can likely stay in his seat for as long as he'd like, redrawn boundaries or not.
Here are the aforementioned Rachel Maddow segments on Coffman.
More from our Politics archive: "Videos: Rachel Maddow makes Mike Coffman national laughingstock."
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