CD6Colorado and Washington, D.C. are buzzing with talk that Mike Coffman may run against Senator Michael Bennet in a race that may well decide control of the U.S. Senate.  While it’s unclear whether he will jump in (he’s keeping it close to the vest), the talk is at least serious enough that speculation is starting to float about who would take Coffman’s place.

At the top of the list are a list of three electoral juggernauts who know how to beat Democrats in the swing suburbs of Arapahoe County.  Leading the pack is Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Sharpe, a longtime Mayor of Greenwood Village who put a decisive whooping to her Democratic opponent last year during the same election that Democrats carried another contested commissioner race in a landslide.  Intelligent, articulate, and elegant, many observers say she would be a dream come true in contrast with the out-of-control, angry insider that some Democrats have rallied around, Senator Morgan Carroll.  Republicans need to carry the women’s vote in Arapahoe County order to carry the Sixth Congressional District.  Nancy Sharpe is an attractive candidate on paper who has a lot of experience winning those votes.

Also mentioned by several sources is Adams County Commissioner Erik Hansen.  Hansen has been credited with turning the once heavily-Democrat Adams County into a place that Republicans not only compete but also win.  Hansen is a proven vote-winner with those working-class voters that Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama have chased from the Democratic Party.  A sophisticated candidate with a large political network, a number of our sources say Hansen would be well-positioned to carry the segments of the Sixth District in Adams County that Democrats used to take for granted. As Hansen noted in The Denver Post‘s election post-mortem:

“I think Democrats took Adams County for granted,” said Erik Hansen, a Republican elected to his second term on the county commission. “They didn’t put in any resources in it, and we recruited better candidates than we have in the past.”

Hansen also pointed out that Adams County is growing, the demographics have shifted and foreclosures hit the area hard after the recession. “There’s still a lot of angst,” he said.

There is also a lot of speculation about whether Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan would get in the race should Coffman make the Senate move.  Aurora is ground-zero for the Sixth.  The candidate that carries Aurora wins the Sixth Congressional.  It is just that simple.  Like Hansen, Hogan built his electoral victories by appealing to working-class voters that make up Aurora.  Hogan’s popularity skyrocketed in the days after the Aurora theater shooting.  Hogan also benefits from having run and won against a strong field for Aurora Mayor, a race where he was outspokenly supported by many chamber of commerce groups  and Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter.   How nice would those old quotes from Ed Perlmutter look in a campaign advertisement for Steve Hogan?  It doesn’t get any more bipartisan than that.

These candidates all have very common attributes.  None have an extensive legislative voting record, so they have latitude to define themselves and avoid liberal definition.  All three have run and won in the toughest portions of the 6th Congressional district.  And all three are capable outsiders who would look really attractive standing on stage next to Morgan Carroll, who thanks to gerrymandering, has never run a competitive race in her life.

We do not know if Coffman will run for the Senate or not.  If he does, Republicans have a lot of reason to be excited.  There is an A-team of candidates all of which would be a favorite against Morgan Carroll, the liberal, partisan, ambulance-chasing-insider that some Democrats have ordained as their candidate.

Not only is Carroll not scaring off prospective opponents.  By the looks of this list, she is attracting the best of the available bunch.  Stay tuned for Part II about who, besides Carroll, may run as a Democrat for the Sixth.