Rep. Mike Coffman is a Republican seeking re-election to Congress in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. Coffman has held the seat since 2009 and is seeking his sixth term.
Coffman, 63, has a long history of military and political service. He enrolled in the U.S. Army in 1972 before graduating from high school. He attended the University of Colorado on the GI Bill and served as an officer in the Marines after graduation.
Coffman was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1989 and served in that chamber until 1994. In 1994, he was elected to state senator and served until January 1999, when he left the legislature to become Colorado State Treasurer.
Coffman served two stints as treasurer. He was first elected in 1998 and reelected in 2002, when he resigned to serve in Iraq with the Marines. Upon completion of his duties in Iraq, Coffman was reappointed State Treasurer in 2006.
In November 2008, Coffman was elected Colorado Secretary of State, and served in that role until 2009, when he departed for Washington, D.C., to serve in Congress.
A voice for veterans
In Congress, Coffman has earned a reputation as a fierce supporter of military veterans – and a forceful critic of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and House Armed Services Committee. He also serves on their various subcommittees.
When construction of the VA medical center in Aurora dragged on, staggeringly over budget and way behind schedule, Coffman was a leading voice in Congress calling for reforms and accountability. He has pushed legislation to decrease the long wait times veterans can face for medical and mental health treatment, and he has worked to provide services to homeless veterans and their families.
An evolving stand on issues
Coffman serves a congressional district that is increasingly becoming more diverse, with a large population of immigrants and refugees. As his constituency has changed, Coffman has moderated several of his views.
Coffman was once a supporter of “personhood laws,” which define when pregnancy begins and are often the focus of fights over abortion and birth control. In 2014, Coffman said he no longer supported personhood laws.
Coffman has been an active voice on immigration reform. He calls the system “broken.” While he said the U.S. must be able to secure its borders and maintain wage and job security, he often breaks from GOP party line on immigration reform.
Coffman’s political ads prominently – and proudly -- feature immigrants from his district. He has criticized several of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies as too harsh or out of touch. He favors protecting Dreamers, the children of people who came to this country illegally, and has voted to provide them a path to citizenship. He voted against a bill that would have ended DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. He did not support Trump’s ban on refugees from predominantly Muslim countries.
Coffman’s congressional district includes Aurora where the theater shootings occurred in 2012. His congressional website says: “We have an obligation to promote responsible gun ownership.” He calls for keeping guns away from criminals and the mentally ill and people who are threats to themselves or others. Coffman’s support of gun rights has earned him “A” ratings from the NRA in the past. In this election, the NRA endorses him in this election and rates him “A.” He has received the most NRA financial support of any member of Colorado’s congressional delegation.
Presidents and Coffman
Coffman is often openly critical of Trump. He did not endorse Trump in 2016, nor did he vote for him. He has called for Trump to release his tax returns, but voted against a resolution that called for him to do just that.
Coffman touted a “birther” conspiracy theory that questioned President Barack Obama’s American citizenship at a town meeting in Elbert County in 2012. Days later, Coffman issued an apology in an op-ed in the Denver Post, saying he “misspoke” and was “wrong.”