Rep. Mike Coffman released a new TV ad today in the race to hold on to his closely contested seat in the 6th congressional district. The ad, “Never,” is Coffman’s first of the election season.
Accompanied by some earnest piano music, a woman’s voice narrates over black-and-white footage of soldiers walking in the desert. “Disturbing reports of sexual assaults in the military,” she begins ominously, then abruptly adopts a praising tone, “A Marine, Mike Coffman, took action, passing a bi-partisan bill with stronger protections for victims.”
The rest of the ad centers around women’s issues, highlighting the moderate stance Coffman now takes. “Coffman made Colorado a leader in ending gender discrimination,” the voice coos, as a reference to a 1994 Denver Post article onscreen cuts to a shot of Coffman gesticulating in the company of some smiling women. (A similar image—substitute his opponent, Democrat Andrew Romanoff, for Coffman—was used in that campaign’s latest ad “Library.”)
“Coffman bucked his own party to help pass the Violence Against Women Act,” continues the narration, making the campaign’s effort to distance itself from GOP extremists all the more explicit. Coffman already shifted on personhood and became one of the first Republicans to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
In the 6th CD, it’s a battle for the middle, and this ad is Coffman’s way of making a play for it.
Romanoff’s campaign issued a lightning fast response in the form of a press release titled “Mike Coffman Doesn’t Have Our Back.” In it is a detailed summary of Coffman’s record on women’s issues, including his low ratings by women’s health and rights groups, his hard-line pro-life stance, support for the Hobby Lobby ruling and adding a “conscience clause” to the ACA, votes to defund Planned Parenthood, co-sponsorship of a bill that would narrow the definition of rape and votes against raising the minimum wage, funding the Violence Against Women Act, passing the Lilly Ledbetter Act and considering Paycheck Fairness Act.
“Actions speak louder than advertisements,” said Denise Baron, spokeswoman for Romanoff’s campaign, in the release, “If you want to call yourself a champion for equality, you don’t block equal pay and you don’t restrict women’s access to health care.”
In races all over the state, women’s issues have become a pivot point for candidates in search of palatable stances, leaving voters to scratch their heads as they try to interpret the constant flux of who believes what at any given point in time.