Tags: Immigration | mike coffman | republican | hispanic | outreach

Colorado GOP Rep. Coffman Embraces Latino Constituents

By    |   Tuesday, 07 April 2015 07:25 PM

With a voting district made up of 20 percent Latinos and Hispanics, Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman has found the secret to staying in office and representing his district: learning Spanish.

Coffman represents the state's 6th District, whose boundaries were redrawn in 2011.

One-fifth of the residents there are classified as either Latinos or Hispanics in United States Census data included on Coffman's website. In the face of losing reelection because of his political party, Coffman took up Spanish two years ago and continues to study several times a week, according to a Fox News Latino story.

Coffman also reaches out to Spanish-speaking residents in his district, and the result was a resounding victory in last November's midterm election.

"My district totally, dramatically changed," Coffman told Fox News. "I lost a lot of my more Republican areas, and got a heavy immigrant population.

"They said to me that Republicans were anti-immigrant, that was the Republican Party's image even among legal immigrants. That surprised me as I was campaigning."

Coffman has successfully turned the tables in his favor, and he continues to hold discussions with Latinos — in Spanish — despite securing another term in office.

"It's a sign of respect for the community," Coffman told Fox News, translating what he said in Spanish a moment earlier. "It's been exciting for me to reach out to Hispanics, Asians, African immigrants and learn."

Coffman beat Democrat Andrew Romanoff, 52 percent to 43 percent, in November's midterm election. During the campaign, the pair squared off in a Spanish-language debate that was broadcast live on TV in October.

The Republican National Committee is now looking at Coffman as an example of how the party can reach out to minority voters.

"At the RNC we're leading by example, while shining a spotlight on leaders who go the extra mile," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said during a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce summit last month, according to Hispanic Tiempo Magazine.

"Like Congressman Mike Coffman in Colorado. … For Congressman Coffman, communicating with these constituents was important. He wanted to do his part. So he took intensive Spanish courses, and in the last election, he even participated in a Spanish language debate on Univision. And he's still continuing his classes.

"The RNC is 100 percent committed to reaching all voters. Because in America, no voter should be overlooked and no voter should be taken for granted. We may not always agree, but we should always have a conversation."

After spending time reaching out to his new constituents, Coffman has changed his position on immigration reform. He is now in favor of giving immigrant children who were brought to the U.S. an opportunity to become U.S. citizens.

"They were brought here through no fault of their own, and this is the only country many of them really know," Coffman told Fox News, adding that he is also in favor of providing work visas to other illegal immigrants and making them pay taxes.

"It can't be done by executive order," Coffman told Fox News. "It has to be done by Congress."

Coffman has been critical of the Obama administration, particularly regarding the scandal surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs. In February, VA Secretary Robert McDonald snapped at Coffman during a hearing.

"I've run a large company, sir. What have you done?" McDonald said after Coffman asked him about cost overruns at VA construction projects.

The incident promoted veterans groups to demand an apology from McDonald; Coffman served in both the Army and the Marines before entering politics at the national level.

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With a voting district made up of 20 percent Latinos and Hispanics, Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman has found the secret to staying in office and representing his district: learning Spanish.
mike coffman, republican, hispanic, outreach
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 07:25 PM
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