Farber quits Coffman, now supports Romanoff for CD 6

This story has been updated to reflect Andrew Romanoff’s first quarter fundraising figures.

Attorney and Democratic Party power broker Steve Farber, who about this time last year caused a flurry in Colorado political circles by hosting a fundraiser for Republican Congressman Mike Coffman’s reelection in CD 6, has jilted the incumbent and on April 4, co-chaired a big name $1,000 to $5,200 a-person fundraiser for Andrew Romanoff, Coffman’s likely Democratic challenger in 2014.

A registered Democrat, Farber co-hosted last year’s fundraiser for Coffman at the private home of Blair Richardson, along with well known Republicans including Alex Cranberg, Larry Mizel, Patrick Hamill and Mike Shaw, and contributed $2,500 to Coffman’s campaign at the time. U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was the special guest at the event.

Farber joined honorary hosts Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis and a venerable who’s who in Democratic politics to host a fundraising reception for the former Colorado House Speaker at the equally tony Denver Country Club home of Linda and Jim Bunch. Among those listed on the invitation as chairs of the reception were Elaine Gantz-Berman, Jim Carpenter, Tom and Noel Congdon, Mike Feeley (who works at the Brownstein Farber Hyatt Schreck law firm), R.D. Sewald and Mike Stratton. The host committee included, among others, Travis Berry, Leanna Clark, Rep. Lois Court, David Engleberg, Cole Finegan, Sen. Gail Schwartz, Dee Wisor and Lee White.

Farber told the press last year that he backed Coffman in 2012 because “Mike is an old friend of mine. We don’t agree on everything politically, but when your friend runs for office you support them.”

Earlier this week, Farber elaborated on his past support of Coffman, now serving his third term, and his decision to instead support his opponent in 2014.

“I didn’t know the fellow [former state Rep. Joe Miklosi] who ran against Coffman last time,” Farber explained. “And I had a 25-year friendship with Mike.”

So what’s happened to that long and cherished friendship with Coffman?

“I haven’t gone to dinner with him lately,” Farber said with a chuckle.

Actually, he added, Coffman was a real gentleman about it.

Farber said he recently told Coffman that he was planning to sit down with Romanoff, with whom he’s always had a good relationship, and see which one of them shared the most similar standings on issues with him.

Romanoff easily won out, Farber said.

“There’s a true distinction between Andrew and Coffman,” Farber said without going into details on the record.

This isn’t the first time Farber has openly backed a Republican candidate in Colorado. Or, for that matter, withdrawn his support later in favor of a Democrat. In 2006, Farber backed Republican Bob Beauprez for governor. But as the campaign wore on and Beauprez’s disdainful views about Ref. C&D became more pronounced, Farber said he told Beauprez he could no longer support him and instead switched to Democratic nominee Bill Ritter.

Asked to comment about the 2014 campaign — and Farber’s defection in particular — Coffman refused to be drawn into the political trap. He uncharacteristically would not return phone calls to The Colorado Statesman, and through his spokesman issued a canned email statement that he’s given to the media before.

“We just had an election, and voters elected me to be their representative, not a full-time candidate. My focus is going to remain on doing what I was elected to do — fighting for the working families of this district, for job growth, and for veterans,” his office relayed.

The 6th Congressional District has become more competitive since its boundaries were redrawn in late 2011. In last year’s election, Coffman defeated Miklosi, considered a weak challenger, by a slim 2-point margin, but the race was a lot closer than many political insiders initially presumed. President Obama carried the district in 2012, and national and state Democrats have already targeted Coffman for the 2014 cycle, naming him to a list of 10 most vulnerable incumbent Republicans.

Fundraising, naturally, is already a major concern for both Coffman and Romanoff, especially since Romanoff said he is following his 2010 campaign pledge when he ran in the Democratic Senate primary to not take any money from PACs or special-interest groups.

Coffman has been an outstanding fundraiser in his own right, raising $1.9 million for his 2012 race.

Romanoff has been endorsed for the CD 6 seat by Sen. Bennet, who defeated him in the Senate primary in 2010 by 8 percentage points. He’s also received the endorsements of every Democratic state legislator in the District, likely leading to his nomination next year without a primary contest.

On April 4, Romanoff reported raising more than $500,000 in the first quarter of 2013, according to his campaign.

Romanoff declared his candidacy on Feb. 1. His first-quarter report reflects contributions in February and March. His campaign reported that more than 2,400 individuals contributed to Romanoff. The vast majority of donors — more than 90 percent — live in Colorado. And more than 80 percent of the contributions were $100 or less.

Fundraising figures for Coffman are due to the Federal Election Commission by April 15. The deadline for the first quarter closed last week. Coffman has not yet released his numbers.

— Jody@coloradostatesman.com

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