Michael "Mike" Coffman (born March 19, 1955) is the U.S. Representative for Colorado's 6th congressional district, serving since 2009, and a former Secretary of State of Colorado. He is a member of the Republican Party.
Early life, education and career
Michael Coffman was born on March 19, 1955 in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to Harold and Dorothy Coffman, and is one of five children. His father served in the United States Army at Fort Leonard Wood, and after 1964, at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado. In 1972, Coffman enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was assigned to a mechanized infantry battalion.
The following year, he earned a high school diploma through an Army program. Leaving active duty for the U.S. Army Reserve in 1974, he entered the University of Colorado, graduating in 1979. He also studied at Vaishnav College in Chennai, India, and the University of Veracruz in Mexico for a year. Upon graduation from the University of Colorado, Coffman transferred from the Army Reserve to the United States Marine Corps in 1979, becoming an infantry officer. In 1983, he transferred from active duty to the Marine Reserves, serving until 1994. In 1983, he created an Aurora, Colorado-based property management firm, serving as senior shareholder until 2000.
Coffman began his political career serving as a member of the Colorado House of Representatives from 1989 to 1995. Shortly after winning reelection in 1990, he took an unpaid leave-of-absence from the State House during his active duty service in the Persian Gulf War, during which he saw combat as a light armored infantry officer. In 1994, he retired from the U.S. Marine Corps, after 20 years of combined service to the Army, Army Reserve, Marines, and Marine Reserve.
That same year, he was also elected to the Colorado State Senate, where he served as Chairman of the Finance Committee.
In 1998, Coffman was elected as State Treasurer of Colorado. He resigned from that post in 2005 in order to resume his career in the U.S. Marines, and serve in the War in Iraq, where he helped support the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, which oversaw two national elections, and helped establish interim local governments in the Western Euphrates Valley. Following completion of his tour-of-duty in Iraq in 2006, he was reappointed as State Treasurer and subsequently elected to his next post, as Colorado Secretary of State.
Coffman announced that he would run for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Republican Tom Tancredo in 2008 in Colorado's 6th congressional district. The Denver Post endorsed Coffman on October 10, 2008. Governor Bill Ritter designated State Representative Bernie Buescher, a Democrat to succeed Coffman as Secretary of State.
He won the Republican primary election, and went on to defeat Democrat Hank Eng in the general election. The seat is considered to be the most Republican-dominated district of the Denver-area seats and is also one of the wealthiest in the nation.
Groups including American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, Common Cause of Colorado, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund accused the Secretary of State's office of improperly marking 6,400 voter registration forms as incomplete, because they failed to check a box on the form. Incomplete registrations require voters to either re-register or provide extra identification when they go to vote.
Soon after the accusations were made, Common Cause filed suit against Coffman, in his official capacity as Secretary of State. The Secretary of State's office denied wrongdoing, and Coffman said he believes his office was correctly applying the law. On October 30, 2008, the court approved a preliminary injunction allowing purged voters to participate in the 2008 election. Bernie Buescher, Coffman's successor as Secretary of State, replaced Coffman as defendant in the case in January 2009. The bulk of the litigation was settled in January 2010 after changes to Colorado's election regulations, and the remaining portions were decided in January 2011.
Coffman was challenged by Democratic Party nominee John Flerlage, Libertarian nominee Rob McNeally, and Independent Michael S. Kearns. He won convincingly with 66% of the votes. Flerlage got 31%, McNeally got 2%; results for Kearns were not recorded. Coffman's 66% of the vote represents a gain of 6 percentage points over his first House election in 2008.
Coffman's wife, Cynthia Coffman, is currently Chief Deputy Attorney General in the office of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, and was previously Chief Counsel in the office of then-Governor Bill Owens.
Coffman is a Methodist.
October 4th, 2011