Democrat Jason Crow, a Denver attorney and decorated Army Ranger veteran, announced Tuesday he’s running against U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in the battleground 6th Congressional District in next year’s election.
“As a combat veteran and father of young children, I’m running for Congress because our political system is broken, and we’re not going to solve our problems with the same politicians and same thinking that got us here,” Crow said in a statement.
“I have always gone to where the fight is — and I believe that our most important fight is right here in the 6th District, especially when it comes to standing up to President Trump and fighting for Colorado values,” Crow said.
Calling Crow a “predictable partisan,” the Coffman campaign welcomed the Democrat to the race while ripping his record on veterans health care and Crow’s support for the Iranian nuclear deal.
National Republicans, meanwhile, dismissed Crow as “another talking head serving nothing but empty platitudes.”
Coffman, a five-term incumbent, was reelected in November by a wide margin to represent the Aurora-based seat, one of 23 congressional districts nationwide carried by Democrat Hillary Clinton but represented by Republicans. Clinton won the district by about 9 points, while Coffman prevailed by 7.3 points over former Senate President Morgan Carroll, who was elected state chair of the Colorado Democrats last month.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — the campaign arm of the House Democrats — included Coffman on a list of target incumbents earlier this year, but his campaign team scoffed at the prospect, pointing out that the Army and Marine Corps veteran has dispatched increasingly high-profile Democratic challengers in recent elections even as the race has been ranked as among the most competitive in the country.
But national Democrats say Coffman is particularly vulnerable in next year’s midterm election and hasn’t helped himself by being the only member of Colorado’s congressional delegation to get behind legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, before GOP leaders canceled a planned vote for the bill because it lacked Republican support.
Crow, who served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and received the Bronze Star, will be Coffman’s first Democratic challenger with a military background since the congressional district’s lines were redrawn to make it a swing seat.
Like two of Coffman’s previous challengers — former state Rep. Joe Miklosi in 2012 and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in 2014 — Crow is jumping in the race as a Denver resident, with a home in the Stapleton neighborhood located several blocks west of the 6th District’s boundaries. (Miklosi and Romanoff both moved into Aurora shortly after announcing they were running for the seat.)
“I approach this challenge as someone who grew up in a working class family, served his nation at war, and as the father of two fifth generation Coloradans – as someone who wants to be part of the solution in a place where career politicians seem to be part of the problem,” Crow said in a statement. “Action matters more than words, results matter more than rhetoric, and I look forward to continuing my conversations with families in the 6th District to discuss what we need to get done.”
Reacting to Crow’s campaign announcement, Coffman campaign advisor Tyler Sandberg invoked familiar Coffman villain Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House leader and conservative bogeyman.
“Nancy Pelosi has an unhealthy obsession with beating Mike Coffman — but give her this much credit, she always raises a lot of money and Pelosi always recruits a quality challenger,” Sandberg told The Colorado Statesman. “We welcome Mr. Crow to the race.”
“The nation owes a debt of gratitude to those like Mike Coffman and Jason Crow who answer the call of duty,” he continued. “But as a Democratic Party activist, Jason Crow has shown conspicuously bad judgment. Jason took to the stage of the Democratic National Convention to praise the previous administration’s handling of veteran’s healthcare, which remains one of the biggest moral failings of President Obama’s tenure. Mr. Crow was also John Kerry’s mouthpiece in Colorado for the great Iranian Nuclear sell-out, one of the greatest foreign policy blunders of an administration that was full of them.”
Sandberg was referencing a speech Crow delivered on the final day of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte discussing Obama’s record advocating for veterans’ health care and praising the administration’s role in the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
“Congress doesn’t need another predictable partisan who allows the bright lights and the big stage to obscure their view of what’s best for America,” Sandberg said. “Team Coffman is ready for the campaign ahead.”
A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee — the GOP’s counterpart to the DCCC — skipped the niceties.
“Jason Crow will find out soon enough that his hot air won’t get him very far running against one of the hardest-working independent members of Congress, Mike Coffman,” NRCC spokesman Jack Pandol told The Statesman. “This election will be a choice between veteran Mike Coffman, who has worked with both sides to produce real results for veterans and working families, and another talking head serving nothing but empty platitudes.”
After serving in the military, Crow got a law degree at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. He’s a partner at Holland and Hart. He has served as a member of the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs and chaired the veterans committee that brought the VA hospital to Aurora. He received the United Veterans Committee’s Outstanding Service Award in 2011 for his work advocating for the VA hospital. Crow is married to Deserai Anderson Crow, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver who specializes in environmental policy. Their two young children are fifth-generation Coloradans.
The 6th Congressional District wraps around the eastern side of the metro area, including eastern Adams County, Aurora, the more densely populated areas in eastern Arapahoe County and a dense sliver of Douglas County, including Highlands Ranch. Voter registration is nearly evenly split between Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters in the district.