Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman turned against Trump, and now he’s in the national spotlight

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Mike Coffman recently ran an advertisement saying he “doesn’t care for (Donald Trump) much.” In another, a woman says the Republican congressman is “not like other Republicans.”

Today, those ads got him in the New York Times.

As the Times notes, Coffman’s race against Democratic candidate Morgan Carroll is now “one of the most competitive” in the country. Coffman’s U.S. House seat is one of just 16 in the nation that’s described as “up for grabs” by one influential newsletter.

It’s also a very diverse district, with Latino people making up about 20 percent of its population.

The Times piece today has some interesting details of his efforts to talk to those communities: For one, he watches telenovelas. He also eats Ethiopian food the traditional way, “with his hands.”

Coffman’s opponent, Carroll, has argued that this all amounts to a false face. As she notes, Coffman has previously opposed President Barack Obama’s immigration reforms, especially when his district was more conservative. (The Denver Post has a good summary of the arguments.)

I thought this paragraph from the NYT was particularly telling:

Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has troubled Ethiopians, Mr. Asfaw said. (“When you’re negative about one immigrant, you affect the whole immigrant community,” he said.) But many Ethiopian immigrants remember that Mr. Coffman went to their churches to grieve with them when the Islamic State beheaded a number of Ethiopians in Libya last year.

Coffman tells the Times that his shifting stance comes because he “has learned about their struggles.” We’ll see if he’s shifted fast enough.