Mike Coffman's victory and the power of the incumbency

Thumbnail image for Joe Miklosi.JPG
Joe Miklosi.
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.

mike coffman obama birther.jpg
Coffman in Elbert County.
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These lines made Coffman seem as if he'd embraced birtherism -- not a wise move for a guy whose district lines had been withdrawn and diversified to the point that it was no longer a lock for a Republican.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.

coffman miklosi results.jpg
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.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

More from our Politics archive: "Videos: Rachel Maddow makes Mike Coffman national laughingstock."

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11 comments
david11tanner
david11tanner

To the voters in the new 6th District, who actually met Joe Miklosi, he was a good and decent man.  Unfortunately, he never got to meet very many and most learned about this Denver carpetbagger from his continual barrage of negative TV ads against Mike Coffman.  His strategy seemed to be "vote against Coffman because I don't like him."  Never did Miklosi make any attempt to introduce himself to voters, tell us about his accomplishments, or what his vision was if he was elected to Congress.  Frankly, he deserved to lose.   

 

Coffman had a tough road to follow to get re-elected.  He was honor bound to continue to represent the very conservative district who put him into office in 2008 and 2010 -- and will be until January 3, 2013, while running in a vastly different district in 2012.  He didn't figuratively walk out on his legislative district like Miklosi did physically.  (Then Miklosi had the unmitigated gall to go back before the Denver City Council, after he moved to Aurora, to lecture them about the ban on homeless camping in public places.)  As someone, who has been part of Aurora, since 1964, Coffman will work hard on behalf of his new constituents because he is connected to this community in a way Miklosi never was.  It is clear that that the congressman has far more supporters than detractors in the new 6th CD.

 

There is not a host of Democratic wannabees eager to risk their political careers by taking on this well-known and popular incumbent.  Remember, Bob Beauprez did far better in his second campaign in the 7th CD than he did in his first try.  This is the second time Coffman bucked a Democratic wave in the state.  (The first time was in 2006.)  Bear in mind that a lot of voters in Arapahoe and Adams counties were willing to vote for Obama-Coffman.  They have a lot more faith in him than they have in the credibility of a few whiners here.  

Bravo6
Bravo6

 @sick-of-it  "Mike Coffman had better understand there are enough of us in DougCo and the southern Denver suburbs who dislike him, he'd better work with Obama and not be part of an obstructionist Congress, or we'll work to make certain he won't be re-elected again in Colorado." 

...riiiiiiiiight

sick-of-it
sick-of-it

Joe Miklosi no more resembles a Canadian than Obamacare resembles the healthcare system in Canada. I'm married to a Canadian who's had family members that required extensive health care. Each of these persons was more than well cared for in doctor's offices. In hospital, they were treated with state of the art cancer care and surgical techniques. Each of these persons received continuing care after they were released from hospital: in-home care - medical, house cleaning, laundry, shopping etc. There may be rural regions in Canada where this standard of care isn't met for some reason - but these are the exception, not the rule. If you've never spent extensive time in Canada - or had any reason to deal with the Canadian healthcare system personally - how can you really know anything about what's happening there?! Mike Coffman had better understand there are enough of us in DougCo and the southern Denver suburbs who dislike him, he'd better work with Obama and not be part of an obstructionist Congress, or we'll work to make certain he won't be re-elected again in Colorado.

ColoradoVoter
ColoradoVoter

coffman and his backers ran a dirty campaign that flat made up lies about miklosi.  it would be one thing to lose a fair fight, but this one was heavily financed with outside money and campaigns like this make all of us in colorado dirty by association.  the presidential election may have eclipsed congressional races but the president needs a congress he can work with, and i am sorry that there will be more mike coffman wasting time and blocking real progress in DC.  coffman is truly a pitiful representation of colorado and all the hardworking folks here.

Chris Cater
Chris Cater

My GF didn't know who he was so she didn't vote.....

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

 @david11tanner Very interesting post, David -- one we're going to make an upcoming Comment of the Day. Congrats.

AnotherCOVoter
AnotherCOVoter

 @david11tanner

 Coffman plagiarized his writing and fabricated some sort of child predator lie about Miklosi in order to win.  Don't pretend that he is an honorable representative.  He won because of the power of the incumbency, not the force of his political will.  You mention that meeting Miklosi made you realize that he is decent and good.  I agree.  I also met Coffman, and he is a self-promoter who misappropriates the US military for his own gain.  This was the closest race against an incumbent in CO and Coffman should be prepared to be ousted next time around.

 

As a sidenote, it would be nice if Colorado's voting infrastructure would actually operate and not conveniently erase rolls of voters.  It certainly doesn't inspire one's faith in nonpartisan Colorado democracy when Coffman is giving a victory speech well before the votes have been counted.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

 @ColoradoVoter Thanks for the post, ColoradoVoter. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Much appreciated.

ElaineVasquez
ElaineVasquez

 @AnotherCOVoter  @david11tanner 

Funny how the Denver Post editors pointed out that Coffman did not actually plagiarize anything, yet you still think he did.  Reminds me of the folks who swear Coffman is a birther, when there is absolutely no record of him ever saying Obama isn't a citizen, or wasn't born in the U.S.A.  In fact, he is well known for being very dismissive of the notion. 

 

You can't claim incumbency when most of the new 6th CD had Ed Perlmutter or Jared Polis as their congressman before.  It is worth noting though, the part of the district that rolled into the new 6th CD overwhelmingly supported Coffman because they, apparently, were very satisfied with his representation... even without him driving up the federal debt with pork barrel projects in the district.

 

Coffman misappropriates the US military for his own gain?  Hardly!  He is the rare Republican who will stand up against his own party and demand specific cuts in the military budget.  I don't know any member of Congress who -- twice -- relinquished political power to put on his country's uniform and serve in time of war.  The second time was age 50 and not many of us could go through combat readiness training at that age.

 

Douglas County returns came in first and put Coffman up with a 13,000 vote lead.  Arapahoe and Adams counties were breaking fairly even between the two candidates, as the night wore on.  Do the math... it was obviously that Coffman had an insurmountable lead that those two counties final vote totals were not going to erase.  You may not have figured that out on Tuesday night, but the Denver Post and all the local TV networks did and correctly declared Coffman the winner... before his victory speech.  Imagine that! 

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