It looks like state Rep. Joe Miklosi could face a well-funded Democratic primary opponent after all.
A week after former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff made it clear he isn’t jumping into the race for the newly competitive 6th Congressional District, chiropractor Perry Haney announced he’s a candidate for the seat.
“I’m running for Congress because career politicians in Washington have made a mess of things,” Haney said Wednesday afternoon in a release accompanied by a video depicting him climbing Mount Evans on a bicycle.
“Washington is broken and corrupt,” Haney said in his announcement. “Congress has been bought and paid for by special interests. Those on the right want to destroy Medicare and hand it over to big insurance companies, and Congress simply hasn’t been tough enough on Wall Street or bold enough in fixing our economy.”
As The Colorado Statesman was first to report, Haney made the rounds last week meeting key Democratic players and drumming up support for a run. At the same time, his backers said that the candidate intends to spend what it takes to win the nomination.
“Send a Chiropractor to Congress,” reads campaign material available through Haney’s website. “There’s nothing wrong with Congress that a spine doctor with backbone can’t cure,” says one side of a brochure under a Haney for U.S. Congress logo.
Although numerous chiropractors have made it into state legislatures, Haney would be the first chiropractor elected to Congress. Haney is also a medical doctor.
“As a physician,” Haney said this week, “I know we are not going to cure the pervasive problems in Washington by prescribing the same career politicians that got us into this mess in the first place.”
Miklosi launched his bid against two-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in July, before the ultimate boundaries of the 6th District were known. The Denver Democrat has said he plans to move early next year into the district, which spans the east side of the metro area.
Saying the timing wasn’t right for him, Romanoff last week ended speculation he might run for the seat following weeks of intense pressure from Colorado and Washington, D.C.-based supporters.
Since this spring, Haney has been publicly flirting with a run in either the 6th District or in the 3rd District, claiming ties to both parts of the state, but settled on the Aurora-based district. Before earning degrees at the University of Colorado, Haney graduated from Aurora’s Hinkley High School in the late 1960s. His first job was delivering newspapers in Aurora, according to his campaign.
The political operative who has been shepherding Haney’s campaign, lobbyist Terry Jones, didn’t return numerous phone calls from The Statesman prior to Haney’s announcement. (Jones was the campaign manager for Democratic congressional candidate Herb Rubenstein, who ran an ill-fated campaign for the nomination against eventual winner U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and his primary opponent, Peggy Lamm, when the 7th District seat became open in 2006.)
Asked to comment on the prospects of a primary challenge, Miklosi campaign spokesman Dan Mahoney responded with the following prepared statement: “Our campaign is focused like a laser on getting our economy on the fast-track to recovery and job creation. Joe Miklosi’s message of working together to find practical solutions that address our country’s most pressing issues has been getting tremendous support from across the political spectrum and we’re looking forward to running a strong campaign against Mr. Coffman.”
Coffman had more to say about the possibility Democrats would have a primary before attempting to unseat him.
A potential Haney run, Coffman said before the second Democrat had entered the race, shows that “the door is wide open” for the Democratic nomination. “The mere fact the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) reached out to Andrew Romanoff shows that they believe Joe Miklosi is not a very strong candidate,” Coffman said. He added that the fact none of the numerous elected Democrats from the new parts of the 6th District — including politicians Coffman said he considers “quite competitive” — are running for the seat doesn’t reflect well on the opposing party’s chances.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, told The Denver Post editorial board in May that Haney had recently met with him during a get-acquainted session with the DCCC in Washington.
Although the prospects of his candidacy mostly fell under the radar over the summer, in recent months, the Haney campaign revved into high gear.
Haney filed papers with the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 27 creating an exploratory committee listing his address in Lone Tree, part of the new 6th District, and writing that he was seeking election to the House as a Democrat. He lists his location as Aurora on social networking sites.
In a lengthy interview published in November as the cover story in Dynamic Chiropractic: The Chiropractic News Source, Haney mostly discusses his thoughts on the state of the field and various controversies — he believes the “hype” surrounding any “cervical manipulation-stroke risk connection” results from a fallacy — but also talks about his plans if elected to Congress.
Haney plans to invite chiropractors to the unveiling of the nameplate on his congressional door, which will identify him as a member of the profession. When it comes to Medicare, Haney says it should be saved, not destroyed. “One way to fix Medicare is via greater utilization of chiropractic, which is proven to save costs,” he says. “Chiropractic [also] must be included on an equal playing field in all insurance systems.”
In an open letter to fellow chiropractors, Haney pledges to fight for the right of patients to access chiropractic care, including active-duty military, veterans and their dependents. “Chiropractors need to be treated fairly and I will make sure that they are,” Haney promises.
Haney winds up his pitch — which includes a sign-up sheet chiropractors can use to recruit patients to the Haney campaign — with an appeal to seek justice by supporting his campaign.
“As a chiropractor, I know your issues because I’m one of you,” he writes. “I know the injustices we face and the difficulties we encounter in our profession. Chiropractic advocacy is all the more powerful when you have one of your own in Congress.”