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November, 1st 2007

More shenanigans from the Colorado GOP

– Liz Mair

I'm sure everyone heard the deeply saddening (< / sarcasm >) news that Tom Tancredo won't be running for Congress again. So, you might be wondering, who will the GOP run in his stead?

Turns out it could be the Republican Secretary of State, Mike Coffman-- and that he's causing everyone a lot of heartburn by virtue of his decision.

Basically, the problem is this. Coffman's replacement will be decided by Gov. Bill Ritter if he leaves his current job. The problem? Bill Ritter, like, well, most elected officials in Colorado these days, is a Democrat. So, he'll probably appoint a Democrat to fill Coffman's shoes. And the Colorado GOP isn't happy about that because a) they'll suffer a net loss, no matter what, to the ranks of Colorado elected Republicans and b) Democrats are into voter fraud or somesuch, so the state will get even more Democratic because, well, maybe Coffman's replacement will let Mexicans or dead people or horses vote.

Jesting aside, this is a bit of a concern because, from what I understand, Colorado has had some seriously weird stuff go on with elections in recent years (for details on 2004 problems, see page 37 here). But I also have to point out it wouldn't be a concern if the Colorado GOP had been doing a better job of electing Republicans than they have in recent years, something which I continue to see as fundamentally connected to the party's inability to take stock of dominant voter attitudes in the state when selecting Republican candidates for office.

Mention of which leads me to another discussion. Will Coffman be an improvement over Tancredo, so far as I am concerned? Certainly, if you look at his bio, he looks like a really well-educated guy with a long history of public service in one form or another, and someone who might be a little less prone to making comments about Miami being the third world or us needing to bomb Mecca. That definitely signals "improvement" to me.

But, it appears that some people have alleged that he might have been involved in shady activities in Iraq (he served in Haditha)-- which could be a problem in a campaign, even though a lot of the rumor-mongering looks like BS insofar as the Haditha incident that has been in the spotlight occurred in 2005 and Coffman says he didn't get to Haditha until 2006. (Apparently there are some other concerns about whether or not the Haditha incident was the subject of complaints made by Iraqis to him, and whether or not he did anything about them-- he says "no" in relation to the former point, making the latter one moot, insofar as his story is deemed credible which I'll treat as being the case, for now anyway).

Coffman has done some stuff that one would imagine might annoy the foes of campaign finance reform, however, like instituting a ban on state employees making political donations, which he says is legal, but strikes me as likely to fall foul of the First Amendment. The guy also has got into trouble in connection because of a particular cozy friendship, a story that seems to have irked Republicans and Democrats alike.

My verdict? Too early to say, really, but it looks like there will be no shortage of candidates to replace Tancredo, which may well be a good thing.

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