Coffman’s Record Conflicts With Desperate Election Year Pandering to Latinos; Constituents Know It’s Too Little, Too Late
A new piece from the New York Times’ Emmarie Huetteman traces Rep. Mike Coffman’s shameless demographic pandering as he campaigns to keep his seat in Congress.
The article examines Mike Coffman political shift from introducing legislation in 2011, to repealing portions of the 1973 Voting Rights Act so that county clerks would be required to provide ballots and other election materials only in English,to fully embracing Spanish-language telenovelas.
While Coffman claims his pivot is the result of hearing ‘stories’ from his constituents, the truth is Rep. Coffman has always had immigrants in his district. He simply ignored and even disenfranchised them when it was to his political advantage. For example, in 2011, while telling Spanish-speaking Latinos to “pull out a dictionary” at the polls, there were nearly 70,000 Latinos living in his district. After redistricting in 2011, the number of Latinos in Coffman’s district nearly doubled, up from 8% to 20%, while the number of white voters dropped from 87% in his old district to 76% under the current congressional map.
Now faced with Donald Trump’s rapidly plunging poll numbers – particularly among Latinos – Coffman is attempting to distance himself from both his prior anti-immigrant voting record and from the Republican nominee.
Alvina Vasquez, State Director of Colorado’s Voice, said “Mike Coffman’s voting record can’t be districted. His district lines may have changed, but his voting record remains constant. Latino and immigrant voters aren’t looking for politicians to stand with them when it’s politically advantageous. They’re looking for leaders who will do what’s right, not just what’s popular.”
As the Times notes, unfortunately for Rep. Coffman, his constituents are not buying this new, more immigrant-friendly version of the Congressman.
“He may realize that Trump is politically unpopular,” [Coffman’s opponent and Colorado State Senate President Morgan] Carroll said, “and he may see that he not only needs to distance himself from Donald Trump, but, here’s the kicker: Mike Coffman has to distance himself from Mike Coffman.”
Mr. Coffman’s detractors see him as another pandering politician, willing to do anything to get re-elected. Another of Mr. Coffman’s ads — in which a handful of people of different ages and ethnicities say he is “not like other Republicans” but “one of us” — draws bitter laughter at Ms. Carroll’s campaign office.
“He didn’t find religion until he got redistricted,” said Tim Sandos, a former Denver city councilman who is now the chief executive of the National Hispanic Voter Educational Foundation. “And now all of a sudden he’s ‘one of us.’”
But Mr. Coffman has not reached Maria Gonzalez. After she listened to the conversation in Ms. Carroll’s campaign office for more than an hour, her story came spilling out: how her parents brought her into the country illegally; how immigration complications tore her family apart; how she became a citizen and successful businesswoman.
“The doors have been closed on me. You have no idea,” Ms. Gonzalez said, her voice raising and breaking as she began to cry. “And so when I hear people like Donald Trump and Mike Coffman — are you serious? You don’t know that I represent so many immigrants of this country.”