Republican Mike Coffman wants to be elected mayor of Aurora again, but for most of his 34-year political career, Coffman was a warrior for issues that had little to do with city government and everything to do with spreading a right-wing agenda across Colorado and the country.
Now, for example, Coffman is pitching himself as a supporter of Aurora’s community of immigrants.
To get there, Coffman went through a spectacular metamorphosis from calling the Dream Act a “nightmare” to embracing the proposal to give immigrants who came to America as children a path to citizenship.
Coffman also helped block the country’s best shot at immigration reform when he opposed a comprehensive immigration bill. The 2014 bill died in the House, after passing with bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate, and Coffman voted against it.
Coffman has said his softening on the immigration issue came after getting to know Hispanic people in Aurora. He learned basic Spanish in an attempt to show his sincerity.
But were Hispanics really so invisible to Coffman that he could find the stomach to call anti-immigrant crusader Tom Tancredo, who ran for president on an anti-immigrant platform, his “hero?” Coffman endorsed Tancredo in Colorado’s 2010 governor’s race. (And Tancredo endorsed Coffman here.)
Coffman began migrating away from his hard-line positions on immigration after his Colorado Springs congressional district was re-drawn to include 20% Hispanic voters. In 2014, three years after redistricting added Aurorans to his constituency, he was caught on tape admitting that he was surprised to learn the city had a large Ethiopian community.
But his old conservative stripes would leak out sometimes. Famously, Coffman said he didn’t know if Obama “was born in the United States of America.” But Coffman did know that Obama “in his heart, he’s not an American.” Coffman apologized.
On abortion, Coffman hasn’t changed his position as radically. He was once proudly opposed to all abortion, even for rape and incest. Under pressure in 2014, he withdrew his opposition to abortion for rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother, but he still opposes abortion for any other reason.
“I oppose abortion in all cases of rape and incest,” Coffman stated in 2009. “I believe that all life is equally sacred irregardless [sic] of how it came into being.”
In a similar fashion, Coffman once called the expansion of Medicare under Obamacare “very radical,” and he voted against Obamacare multiple times. Then, in a last-ditch effort to avoid losing his congressional seat to Jason Crow, he claimed he no longer wanted to repeal it.
Crow beat him anyway and replaced him as Aurora’s representative in Congress. Coffman later ran for mayor of Aurora and won by 215 votes four years ago.
Coffman’s 34-Year Political Career
Coffman began his political career when he was elected to the state Legislature in 1989. In 1998, he won the statewide position of Colorado Treasurer, and he was elected Secretary of State in 2006. And then he entered Congress in 2010 and won the Aurora Mayor’s race in 2019.
Coffman did not respond to a request for comment.
In all, Coffman has held elected office for most of the past 34 years, the majority of which he spent fighting for right-wing causes.