The Denver Post Editorial Board
Three years ago, when the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee was trying to prevent military spending from being swept up in a budget-cutting deal, he pushed every Republican on the panel to sign a letter in support. Only three Republicans out of 35 refused. Mike Coffman was one of them.
It's that independence of spirit that makes the Aurora Republican a valuable member of Congress, and one of the reasons we think he should be re-elected in Colorado's 6th Congressional District.
Coffman is a combat veteran, as he likes to remind people, which in itself makes him somewhat unusual in a Congress where the percentage of veterans has plummeted in recent decades. But more importantly, he is a veteran who does not reflexively defend all manner of military spending, as too many members of the GOP tend to do.
To the contrary, Coffman is a prominent voice arguing for reforms that could save money and keep military spending in check. And his colleagues can't afford to ignore him because he has spent a substantial part of his adult life either actually in service — including several deployments abroad — or studying the issues. He's as conversant with them as the military brass that testifies before congressional committees.
And Coffman brings a similar open-mindedness to other spending debates, as well as tax reform.
Coffman's retooled position on immigration, in which he favors a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, is also a plus in a Republican caucus in which hard-liners have too often prevailed. Coffman himself was one of those hard-liners until forced to defend his seat in a district with a significant Hispanic population. Maybe he can convince more of his GOP colleagues to deal with demographic reality.