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Thread: Mike Coffman does a 180 on immigration

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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Mike Coffman does a 180 on immigration

    Mike Coffman does a 180 on immigration

    Coffman’s shift underscores the broader pressures confronting the Republican Party. | AP Photo

    By ALEX ISENSTADT | 2/26/13 11:37 PM EST

    Republicans say they’ve learned their lesson from November’s drubbing: If they want to win the support of Hispanics, they’ll need to bend on immigration.

    And no GOP pol has bent more than Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, who embodied his party’s hard line on immigration — until he was thrust into a district with thousands more Latinos.

    It was only two years ago that Coffman, a conservative third-term lawmaker from the Denver suburbs, said the Dream Act would be a “nightmare” and proposed a bill that would ensure ballots were printed in English only. He even signed an amicus brief in support of Arizona’s controversial immigration bill.

    So it raised more than a few eyebrows when the congressman announced this month that he supports immigration reform. He came out in favor of establishing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants residing in the country illegally, and for their children.

    Coffman, who spent more than a decade in the Marines, has also proposed a bill that would allow noncitizens, such as foreign students in the U.S. on visas, to serve in the military. The conservative has teamed up with Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a liberal and outspoken backer of immigration reform, to push the legislation.

    It’s a stark reversal for the 57-year-old congressman, who in 2008 made opposition to immigration reform a central plank of his first campaign for Congress. Coffman succeeded Tom Tancredo, a former GOP presidential candidate who made a name for himself as a virulent critic of illegal immigration.

    And it’s no accident that it comes after Coffman’s district was redrawn to include nearly three times the number of Hispanics it had before the 2012 election.

    “My district dramatically changed,” the congressman told POLITICO. “In the district I had until last month, there wasn’t a significant Hispanic population, and with the population I had, immigration wasn’t a significant issue. In the district I have now, there is a significant Hispanic population. And meeting with those people really put a face on it.”

    Coffman’s shift underscores the broader pressures confronting the Republican Party at a time when Hispanics are rapidly gaining clout, particularly in critical Western battleground states like Colorado.

    A report by the Pew Hispanic Center released after the election showed that Hispanics made up 14 percent of Colorado’s electorate in 2012, up from 13 percent in 2008 and 8 percent in 2004. The report found that President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney among Colorado Hispanics 75 percent to 23 percent.

    “I think Mike Coffman is a very savvy guy — he always has been — and he’s smelled the coffee, so to speak,” said Mike Stratton, a longtime Democratic strategist in the state. “There has been a transformation on immigration, and Colorado … will be an incubator of how immigration will affect congressional races.”

    For most of his quarter-century in elected office, taking a hard line on immigrants was a natural call for Coffman.

    But that all changed after the latest round of redistricting. Coffman’s new district is centered in Aurora, which in recent years has seen an infusion of Hispanics who have migrated to the Denver suburbs in search of quality schools and housing.

    Under Colorado’s map, Hispanics make up a little more than 20 percent of the newlydrawn 6th Congressional District. Coffman’s old district, which was centered in the more conservative Douglas County, was about 8 percent Hispanic.

    Those demographic realities have made Coffman — one of only 16 Republicans residing in a district that Obama won — a marked man.

    Just days after he was sworn into office for his current term, Coffman drew a serious 2014 Democratic opponent in former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. The Cook Political Report ranks Coffman among the nine most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the country.

    In 2012, in his first race under the new lines, Coffman narrowly defeated Democrat Joe Miklosi, who had called the congressman too extreme for the district. Democratic groups spent more than $3.5 million against the congressman.

    Democrats say they’re not about to let Coffman get away with his conversion.

    After the Colorado Republican announced his support for immigration reform, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasted out a press release, criticizing him for his “political deathbed conversion” and calling it, “too little, too late.”

    “Mike Coffman, from his record and his past, has shown that he’s not on the right side on immigration,” said Rick Palacio, the Colorado Democratic Party chairman.

    “Going from that extreme to trying to soften his stance says to me and to a lot of people in Colorado that he’s a political opportunist.”

    Coffman rejected the criticism, arguing that people from both parties have come to realize that the country’s immigration system is broken.

    “I think the whole country is changing,” he said, “and the Republican Party is shifting.”

    To some Republicans, Coffman’s shift is a breath of fresh air. Among them is Bob Martinez, a former Colorado Republican Party chairman who has long called for the GOP to take a more flexible approach on immigration.

    “I think it’s good. I’m hoping a lot of Republican politicians realize how damaging to the party [the issue has] been,” Martinez said. “Mike Coffman has made a 180-degree evolution on this issue. … I think it’s fantastic.”

    Had Coffman not changed, Martinez added, “I think it would have put him in jeopardy.”

    Some Republicans believe they can brand Romanoff, who waged an unsuccessful 2010 Senate campaign, as overly conservative on immigration.

    During his time in the state Legislature, Romanoff supported a bill that would have made it illegal for tuitions to be made lower for undocumented students and another bill that would have required employers to verify they do not hire illegal immigrants in order to qualify for state-provided economic incentives.

    Romanoff’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

    Still, there is little question that the increased number of Hispanics in his district will be an obstacle to Coffman’s reelection. Ryan Frazier, a former Aurora city councilman who ran an unsuccessful 2010 congressional campaign, said the congressman would need to wage an effort to sell himself to Hispanic voters.

    “I think Coffman is going to have to focus on what his solutions for the community are,” Frazier said. “If he gets out there and has a conversation with the community, I think he’ll be OK.”

    Mike Coffman does a 180 on immigration - Alex Isenstadt -

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  2. #2
    Senior Member dogpile's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    Phoenix, AZ
    Put a fork in him. He's done. What a coward. Hard to believe he was a Marine.
    SicNTiredInSoCal and nomas like this.

  3. #3
    Senior Member SicNTiredInSoCal's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Mexico's Maternity Ward :(
    Why do they not understand they will NEVER get the hispanic vote? They and nearly all other immigrants vote overwhelmingly democrat. Every time. This is killing our country.
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