Jason Crow wants gun reform to become a key issue in the uber-competitive CD6 race

Prominent gun reform advocate and former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords of Arizona stumped for Crow in Aurora.

Congressional candidate Jason Crow speaks at a campaign rally at a VFW post in Aurora, Sept. 20, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Congressional candidate Jason Crow speaks at a campaign rally at a VFW post in Aurora, Sept. 20, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Democrat Jason Crow won’t be a single-issue candidate, but on Thursday he took aim at a divisive topic that could end up driving voters and supporters out to the polls: Gun reform.

The former U.S. Army Ranger and attorney said Thursday he believes the country has reached “a tipping point” on the issue of gun violence. He spoke following a rally featuring one of the country’s most prominent gun reform advocates in former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords of Arizona.

“It’s been the right thing to do for a very long time, but I think we’re seeing a level of momentum occur around the gun violence issue,” Crow said after the rally. “This has become an issue that’s motivating a lot of folks, as you can see from the event today.”

He said there will be plenty of other issues he thinks will mobilize potential voters, including student loan debt, lack of affordable housing and issues disproportionately affecting communities of color.

Giffords, along with her husband retired astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, urged support for Crow at a crowded VFW Post in Aurora.

Since surviving an assassination attempt in 2011, Giffords has become an outspoken supporter for causes and candidates supporting gun reform. The two are currently embarking on a country-wide tour stumping for Democratic veterans running for office.

“Stopping gun violence takes courage,” Giffords said during the rally. “Now is the time to come together, be responsible Democrats, Republicans, everyone. We must never stop fighting. Fight, fight, fight!”

Crow said when he started his campaign, he decided he would be committed to leading on “issues of importance” in the country. It includes gun violence, a topic he’s familiar with as a combat veteran.

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords speaks at a rally for congressional candidate Jason Crow at a VFW post in Aurora, Sept. 20, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords speaks at a rally for congressional candidate Jason Crow at a VFW post in Aurora, Sept. 20, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

His plans for addressing gun violence includes expanding background checks, restricting sales of high-capacity ammunition magazines, banning “bump stocks,” and banning military-style assault-style firearms.

“I understand that there is a culture and history and respect of the Second Amendment and we respect that culture and history,” Crow told supporters inside the VFW. “I’ve used weapons of war at war and I’ve had them used against me. I know what they’re capable of.”

He’s quickly becoming the poster boy for Democrats in Colorado. And he’ll need to be as he attempts to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican, in one of the most talked-about and watched congressional races in the country.

If the blue wave rolls in Colorado, Crow will hope to be the guy riding the crest.

The 6th Congressional District race is falling under a national spotlight for good reason: Many outside onlookers see it as a barometer of the so-called “blue wave” Democrats are hoping washes over the country. It’s a seat that’s been a prime target of Democrats for the past few election cycles.

Right now, you can feel the momentum swinging for Crow. He’s having a momentum fueled by an encouraging poll from the New York Times. Their realtime polling of some of the most competitive races in the country had Crow with an 11-point lead over Coffman, which would amount to a 20-point swing from the results in 2016, when Coffman won re-election by a comfortable margin despite his district being carried by Democrat Hillary Clinton the same year.

But Crow is downplaying the significance of the results. He said he doesn’t pay attention to them.

“I think polls show a lot of different things,” Crow said to reporters after the rally. “I’m more interested in getting out and making my case in the community.”

Astronaut Captain Scott Kelly speaks at a rally for congressional candidate Jason Crow at a VFW post in Aurora, Sept. 20, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Astronaut Captain Scott Kelly speaks at a rally for congressional candidate Jason Crow at a VFW post in Aurora, Sept. 20, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The results from the NYT poll were based on 26,831 calls and 500 people who ended up speaking with the Times. Crow had 51 percent support to Coffman’s 40 percent; 9 percent of respondents were undecided (the margin of error was 4.8 percent).

FiveThirtyEighty now projects the seat as “Likely D.” The website gives Democrats an 81.8 percent chance of winning the seat. Their outlook is based on factors including four different polls, all of which have Crow leading.

Kelly cautioned why polls can be misleading. He recalled the 2010 election, which had Giffords up by double digits.

“And, the day after the election, she won by about one percent,” Kelly said. “So don’t be fooled by polling data.”

Supporters think Crow has having a viable path toward Congress.

Aurora resident Tim Adams met Crow during a local vigil for the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting. Adams has volunteered for past CD6 candidates, but he said Crow’s military background, environmental stance and gun control set him apart.

Adams wore a bright red shirt with names of cities where mass shootings had taken place. He gestured toward it while he spoke.

“It’s not about the Second Amendment,” Adams said. “They always say, ‘You’re not taking my guns away from me.’ And that’s not the way it is. What it is is really understanding we got to have fair laws that make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Wendy Landin, a teacher from Littleton, poses for a portrait before congressional candidate Jason Crow holds a campaign rally at a VFW post in Aurora, Sept. 20, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Wendy Landin, a teacher from Littleton, poses for a portrait before congressional candidate Jason Crow holds a campaign rally at a VFW post in Aurora, Sept. 20, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Wendy Landin, a teacher from Littleton, said she attended because she’s tired of being afraid to go to her job. She’s supporting Crow because of his platform on gun reform. She’s also a fan of Crow’s education and healthcare policies.

Landin is part of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America, who had several members on-hand sporting bright red shirts. The group has endorsed Crow.

“It should have stopped at Columbine and it has not,” Landin said. “(Crow) said, you don’t need an automatic weapon that I used in Iraq and Afghanistan to be in the streets of America.”

Carolyn Fleck, an Aurora resident and delegate for Crow at caucuses, said she thinks Crow can beat Coffman because he can appeal to and work with folks from different political leanings.

“When you’re in war, you don’t look at the person next to you and say, ‘Are you a Republican? Are you a Democrat?’ You work together,” Fleck said. “And I think that will make him incredibly successful in Congress.”