GOP’s Coffman wins, likely to succeed Tancredo |

GOP’s Coffman wins, likely to succeed Tancredo

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Republican Secretary of State Mike Coffman won his GOP congressional primary Tuesday and looked set to succeed Rep. Tom Tancredo, the five-term Colorado congressman whose forceful opposition to illegal immigration vaulted him to national prominence.

Tancredo’s district in Denver’s southern suburbs is heavily Republican, and Coffman was favored to defeat Democrat Hank Eng in November’s general election.

In other Colorado congressional primaries, incumbent GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn defeated challenger Jeff Crank.

Businessman Wil Armstrong conceded to Coffman in a District 6 primary that included state senators Ted Harvey and Steve Ward. Armstrong said Coffman will provide a thoughtful voice on the war in Iraq and other conservative issues, including lower taxes and support for businesses.

Coffman led with 40 percent, followed by Armstrong with 33 percent, Harvey 15 percent and Ward 12 percent.

Tancredo built a longshot presidential campaign on opposition to illegal immigration but abandoned the White House bid in December after consistently polling at the bottom of the Republican field.

He declined to seek another term but hinted he might run for the Senate. He decided against running for the open seat held by GOP Sen. Wayne Allard this year.

Coffman said his priorities include national security. He said there are others in Congress who can continue Tancredo’s fight against illegal immigration but that “I think the economy is my top issue.”

Ward, an Iraq war veteran, said Coffman’s experience as a veteran of the first Iraq war will be a big asset in Washington. “I’m glad to have a man in Congress who knows how to wear a pair of combat boots,” he said.

Lamborn had been fighting for his political life since he took office in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District two years ago. Challenging him on Tuesday were Crank, a former aide to Joel Hefley, who held the seat for 20 years until retiring in 2006, and Bentley Rayburn, a retired Air Force major general.

Lamborn had 45 percent of Tuesday’s vote, Crank 29 percent and Rayburn 26 percent.

Lamborn had to circulate petitions to get on the primary ballot instead of going through the GOP’s El Paso County convention. The nasty 2006 race was close for Lamborn, who won by fewer than 1,000 votes over Crank in a district that is heavily Libertarian.

Crank said it’s time for the party to end two years of bickering in central Colorado’s El Paso County.

“We really do need to unite. The stakes are too high,” he said.

Support Local Journalism