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Mike Coffman’s Toughest Challenge

Can Morgan Carroll finally unseat the CO-6 congressman?

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Mike Coffman spent 2014 overcoming a redrawn congressional district and a well-known Democratic challenger to maintain his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He’ll spend 2016 doing it all over again.

On Tuesday, former Colorado Senate President Morgan Carroll announced that she’ll challenge Coffman next year in what’s sure to be a hotly contested and closely watched election.

State Democrats are hoping the third time’s the charm for CO-6. The longtime conservative stronghold—before Coffman arrived, Tom Tancredo repped the 6th for a decade—was redrawn in 2012. This subtracted the area around Highlands Ranch and added Aurora, and suddenly the district was in play.

Coffman squeaked by challenger Joe Miklosi in 2012 before facing Andrew Romanoff in 2014. Despite Romanoff’s greater name recognition and strong funding, Coffman won by a surprisingly wide nine-point margin.

In Carroll, Coffman will face another well-known and ambitious Democrat, one who’s already hitting the populist themes that her party will wield nationwide in 2016. The fact that it’s a presidential election year will also help her efforts.

Whether Coffman will prevail again might depend on his ability to avoid embarrassment, not exactly one of his strong suits. He’ll also have to contend with fallout from his wife’s misadventures. State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman had been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate until her recent efforts to either influence or oust the head of the Colorado GOP came to light and doused her momentum.

While someone tries to figure out whether Ms. Coffman’s actions were criminal or merely clumsy, her husband will be trying to keep his distance—and it won’t be easy.

Even though the election is still 16 months away, the CO-6 contest is already humming along. Such is life in this permanent swing state.

Follow 5280 editor-at-large Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.

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