DENVER | Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff took 6th Congressional District incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman to task during the third formal debate between the two candidates held at the Denver Post Auditorium Tuesday. It was a role reversal from the previous debate hosted by the Aurora Chamber of Commerce where Coffman was the one who pounded the table over Romanoff’s history of taking money from political action committees.
Throughout the debate Romanoff remained on the offensive, pointing to what he called his opponent’s inconsistent and “indefensible” voting record. Coffman has been Aurora’s 6th Congressional District incumbent since 2009.
“You said you support reductions in carbon emissions but have voted against nearly every measure that would produce that result,” Romanoff said. “You said you support immigration reform, but oppose the Senate bill the House bill, and have called the DREAM Act a nightmare. You said you support access to birth control but have voted to restrict and even criminalize it. My question is what does the word support mean to you?”
Coffman refrained from firing back for the most part, instead sticking to points he has made in previous debates about believing gun control laws are better handled by local than federal governments, and that he supports a path to citizenship through military service.
He did take Romanoff to task for being so passionate about a district the former Colorado House Speaker moved from Denver to in 2013. “If I say that you moved into the district not because you wanted to live in Aurora but because you wanted to live in Washington D.C., what is not true about that?” he asked his opponent. Romanoff served for eight years in the Colorado House of Representatives, and then unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010 for a Democratic Senate nomination.
During a slew of questions where the candidates were simply told to answer either yes or no, Coffman said he did not support same sex marriage in Colorado while Romanoff said he supported it. Coffman garnered gasps from the crowds when he said he did not believe humans are contributing significantly to climate change, while Romanoff said he did believe humans are contributing to climate change.
When given time to elaborate, Coffman said he believed marriage should be allowed only for a man and a woman, but that he would support whatever decisions Colorado citizens wanted in Congress. “It’s ultimately up for the voters of Colorado to make that decision,” he said in support of Colorado’s ban on same sex marriage, which has been challenged by several same-sex couples with lawsuits in state court.
Coffman also tempered his response to the climate change question. “The science is not quite settled,” he said. “Does it have an impact? Yes. Do I know how much of an impact it has, man-made climate change? I don’t know. But I think we have to do everything responsible to bring down carbon emissions. Sometimes my worry is when we go too far, what happens is we push, particularly manufacturing jobs overseas to a country like China that has no environmental rules. And those same products are made with greater carbon emissions that otherwise would’ve been made in the United States. I think there has to be a balance that we achieve there.”