Coffman seeks to secure second term

Posted 6/25/10

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman feels optimistic about his chances of winning in a mid-term election he says will be a referendum on the Obama administration …

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Coffman seeks to secure second term


U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman feels optimistic about his chances of winning in a mid-term election he says will be a referendum on the Obama administration and its policies.

The Republican incumbent from Aurora will be defending his seat against Democratic challenger John Flerlage in the conservative-leaning 6th Congressional District.

In 2008, Coffman carried the district — which encompasses most of the south metro area — with 60 percent of the vote.

“I think I will do poorly with the Democrats this year, well with the Republicans, and better than I did last time with the independents,” Coffman said. “However, I think I have a better opponent this time than I did during the last election. I certainly don’t take it for granted.”

As a 17-year-old high school dropout from Central High School in Aurora, Coffman enlisted in the U.S. Army. Thirty-eight years later, he still is very much involved with the military.

Coffman serves on the Armed Services Committee as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, having worked his way up through the ranks, becoming an officer in the Marines and earning a high school diploma and degree from the University of Colorado on the way.

But it was his two most recent tours of duty — in the first Gulf War and again in Iraq — that have influenced his stances on the present wars, especially the one in Afghanistan.

Coffman is very opposed to nation building. He says the U.S. should utilize more of Afghanistan’s tribal militias and not try to impose a Western-style democracy on a country that is very different culturally and may not be receptive to that type of government.

“I think we have an unrealistic vision in terms of the notion of militarily occupying a country and trying to build democratic institutions so they look just like us,” he said. “I think is a crazy policy that’s going to bankrupt this nation, and wear down our military. To impose ourselves upon them with military force I think is wrong. I’m very engaged in trying to shift our strategy.”

Setting priorities

Echoing most politicians running for office these days, Coffman cites jobs and the economy as his number one priority.

“One of the biggest problems I hear in the district right now is small businesses and their lack of access to credit,” he said. “The credit is really a banking issue.”

Along with Ed Permutter, who represents Colorado’s 7th district, and others, Coffman sponsored the Capital Access to Main Street Act of 2010, which aims to make it easier for small banks to loan to small businesses.

He said the key to growing the economy is incentives for companies in the private, not public, sector.

But much of Coffman’s first term, he says, has been spent opposing policies, like the health care bill passed earlier this year. He would rather make health care affordable by offering tax deductions for people to purchase their own insurance and tax credits for those who can’t pay the full price. The notion of having health insurance tied to employment is wrong, he said.

“Sometimes being in opposition is very important,” he said. “I want to work on reversing the direction we’ve gone and I think there are still opportunities to do that.”


Coffman weighed in on June 23 with a statement concerning the change of U.S. military leadership in Afghanistan. Although he criticized Gen. Stanley McChrystal for having poor judgment in his interview with Rolling Stone, Coffman questioned whether Gen. David Petraues’ assessments of the current situation would be as forthcoming.

“My experience with Gen. David Petraeus as a member of the House Armed Services Committee leaves me with a lack of confidence that he will deliver the same level of candor Gen. McChrystal exhibited,” Coffman said. “We are at a very dangerous crossroads in executing the current strategy in Afghanistan. The United States cannot afford for Congress to receive assessments from Gen. Petraeus that are solely intended to sell a policy.”

Coffman questioned Petraeus on June 16 about the situation in Afghanistan during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

On May 27, the House approved an amendment that would effectively repeal the U.S. military’s policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” that bans gays and lesbians from the military. Coffman was not one of the 234 members of the House who voted in favor of it. He said he wanted to see the results of a study by the Department of Defense on the issue before voting.

“In the first Gulf War I was in a ground combat team,” he said. “I think (gays in a ground combat team) would have been destructive in terms of unit cohesion. I think it would have been interesting to see the study and see what a generation of officers younger than myself thought in terms of how it would affect unit cohesion. It’s not whether it’s homosexuality or heterosexuality, it’s the interjection of sexuality in a ground combat team that concerns me.”


According to the Federal Election Commission, Coffman received a $1,000 campaign contribution from Halliburton on May 17. Halliburton was responsible for cementing the oil well and pipe below the surface just 20 hours before the explosion of the Deep Water Horizon and subsequent massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Coffman serves on the Natural Resources Committee, which is overseeing the spill and its aftermath.

“No, I don’t,” Coffman said when asked if he saw this as a potential conflict of interest. “I absolutely don’t. Halliburton does a lot in Colorado in terms of supporting oil and gas production so they support me because of my position on oil and gas, and not because I solicited a contribution from them.”

Coffman was one of seven members of Congress who serve on a committee overseeing the spill who received a contribution from Halliburton in May.


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