As Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, sets his sights on being re-elected to U.S. House District 6, he knows his road back to Washington will be a tougher one than before.
The Republican incumbent won in 2008 and 2010, taking 61 and 67 percent of the vote respectively in the two races. Yet with the redrawing of district lines, he loses all of Elbert County; Douglas County, with the exception of Highlands Ranch; and parts of Park and Jefferson counties – all conservative areas that had helped tip the previous elections in his favor.
The newly drawn district, which still includes Highlands Ranch, Greenwood Village, Centennial and Littleton, has added the entire City of Aurora, thus resulting in a one-third equal split between Democrats, Republicans and independent voters.
Coffman’s opponent, Joe Miklosi, D-Aurora, who is new to the district, has spent the past four years serving Denver residents in the state House, where he worked on bipartisan solutions for small business, women’s health freedoms and creating renewable energy jobs – issues he intends to maintain his focus on if elected.
“Coloradans were the real winners from the redistricting process because the district is now a third, a third and a third,” Miklosi said. “It requires candidates taking public office to reach out to all constituencies and not just a narrow base like the Tea Party Caucus that my opponent has focused on in the past. I think that is a win for democracy and a win for Coloradans, because as a representative you now have to speak for more people.”
While the district picks up a major Democratic area in Aurora, Coffman, who was born and raised there, feels right at home with the change.
“Coming from Aurora certainly helps,” Coffman said. “But at the same time it certainly will be a much more challenging race simply because of the fact that it has become a national race. … The Wall Street Journal put it down as one of the top 10 most competitive congressional races in the country. I think you are going to have a lot of resources floating into both sides from outside of Colorado.”
The most recent numbers, released June 30 from the Federal Election Commission, show Coffman having raised $1,998,673 in comparison to Miklosi’s $802,413.
“In the boundaries of the old district, agriculture was much more prominent, water issues were very important, and we had wildfire challenges,” Coffman said. “There are no mountain areas in the new district, there aren’t very many agricultural areas, and the communities within the boundaries of the new district are in much better position in terms of water. In the new district it’s all about jobs and the economy.”
Both candidates are focused on small business growth, pride themselves on working across the aisle and are focused on keeping jobs at home. In coming weeks, Colorado Community Media will take a closer look at these issues as well as some of the others the candidates are focused on as November draws near.