By The Denver Post Editorial Board
Three years ago, when the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee was trying to prevent military spending from being swept up in a budget-cutting deal, he pushed every Republican on the panel to sign a letter in support. Only three Republicans out of 35 refused. Mike Coffman was one of them.
It’s that independence of spirit that makes the Aurora Republican a valuable member of Congress, and one of the reasons we think he should be re-elected in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District.
Coffman is a combat veteran, as he likes to remind people, which in itself makes him somewhat unusual in a Congress where the percentage of veterans has plummeted in recent decades. But more importantly, he is a veteran who does not reflexively defend all manner of military spending, as too many members of the GOP tend to do.
To the contrary, Coffman is a prominent voice arguing for reforms that could save money and keep military spending in check. And his colleagues can’t afford to ignore him because he has spent a substantial part of his adult life either actually in service — including several deployments abroad — or studying the issues. He’s as conversant with them as the military brass that testifies before congressional committees.
And Coffman brings a similar open-mindedness to other spending debates, as well as tax reform.
Coffman’s retooled position on immigration, in which he favors a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, is also a plus in a Republican caucus in which hard-liners have too often prevailed. Coffman himself was one of those hard-liners until forced to defend his seat in a district with a significant Hispanic population. Maybe he can convince more of his GOP colleagues to deal with demographic reality.
Both Coffman and his opponent, former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, are men who take their work in public service seriously, mastering complex issues and seeking real solutions. Both are hard-working and intelligent. And both have demonstrated a capacity to reach across the aisle to work with the other party.
But Coffman has been laboring in the trenches for the 6th District for years on such important work as a new VA hospital, whereas Romanoff didn’t even move into the district until last year. The congressman has earned another term.