6th Congressional District

Coffman campaign ad targets women

Romanoff team says rival fudging history

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Locked in a tight re-election campaign, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman on Aug. 26 released his first television ad, targeted at a demographic that will be crucial in determining whether he keeps his seat.

The ad targets women voters by touting Coffman's congressional record on issues like sexual assault reform in the military and gender discrimination in health insurance pricing.

But Democrats, especially Andrew Romanoff, Coffman's opponent in this fall's 6th Congressional District race, hope voters see the ad for what they believe it is — an effort to “whitewash” a voting record that has fallen short of championing women's equality.

The 30-second spot features a female narrator touting Coffman's own Marine background while lauding his work on an amendment to a defense budget bill that deals with sexual assaults in the military.

The ad also points out Coffman's support of Congress' renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, and his work on legislation in the Colorado General Assembly to prevent women from having to pay more than men for health insurance.

“When I served in the state Legislature, I worked with members of both parties to ban gender discrimination in health insurance pricing and ensure that women could not be charged more than men,” Coffman said through an emailed statement.

But the Romanoff campaign was quick to attack Coffman's ad as a “brazen attempt” to hide his actual voting record on women's issues.

The campaign rattled off a laundry list of Coffman's positions on women's issues, including his past support of the so-called “personhood” amendment, which would essentially ban abortions. Coffman said in a recent debate that he does not support personhood.

The Romanoff campaign also attacked Coffman for his votes against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which sought to help women address income inequality. The Romanoff team also slammed Coffman for his support of a bill that sought to narrow the definition of rape.

“It's what the congressman is doing in Washington — not just what he's saying in Colorado — that matters,” said Romanoff spokeswoman Denise Baron, through an emailed statement.

Women voters overwhelmingly vote Democratic, and Coffman needs to peel off some of Romanoff's support among women if he's going to win re-election.

The battle for CD6 — which was redistricted after the 2010 census to include a more culturally diverse group of voters — will be the most closely watched House race in the country.

“In a way it's flattering,” said Democratic strategist Laura Chapin, when asked for her reaction to Coffman's ad. “It speaks to the strength of Colorado women voters, and all the candidates are speaking to us this year.

“But I find it interesting that after 20 years of not caring about women, Mike Coffman all of the sudden cares.”

Laura Carno, a conservative political strategist, acknowledges that Republicans need to do a better job of reaching out to women voters, but said that's achieved through economic policy stances instead of through “social issues.”

“They look at it very narrowly,” Carno said of Democrats. “As if women wake up every morning thinking, `Oh my goodness, how is the government going to help me get birth control?'”