Rep. Mike Coffman made headlines earlier this week when he announced that he will not be running for U.S. Senate in 2016 against Sen. Michael Bennet.

With John Suthers recently being elected as Mayor of Colorado Springs, Rep. Coffman was the highest profile Republican in Colorado that would have been a likely contender for Bennet.

In reporting on the decision, The Colorado Independent detailed all of the different Republicans who may be in consideration to run now without Rep. Coffman in the race.

But while Rep. Mike Coffman would indeed have been a formidable opponent for Bennet, I think the other Coffman with proven success as a state wide elected candidate will actually be a more competitive opponent.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman does not have as much experience in high profile races as her husband, but in 2016, her nomination would bring various challenges for Bennet.

The playbook that Bennet used to defeat Ken Buck five years ago focused on the “War on Women” strategy. It was the exact same one that Mark Udall’s campaign used with much different results, in 2014.

But while Bennet used this strategy with success against Buck, it will be much harder to use the same concept against Cynthia Coffman. Even with Coffman’s social conservative views, creating an image that electing a woman would be harmful for women’s rights is not easy.

The other factor of 2016 that complicates any potential Bennet strategy is the fact that Hillary Clinton will likely be at the top of the Democratic ticket.

With a woman at the top of the Democratic ticket, a lot of positive messaging about the leadership of women and the potential history being made with Clinton’s election will likely give a positive look for all other women running for office from both parties.

Finally, Cynthia Coffman may have the ability to avoid a major GOP primary fight. While there are already some Republican candidates running, none of them are high profile.

Since Cynthia Coffman was a big supporter of Steve House in his successful bid to become the chair of the Colorado’s Republican party, he may be able to work behind the scenes to clear major some of the higher profile potential opponents.

We’re a long way from the 2016 election and the eventual winner of last year’s Senate race didn’t jump in until well into the campaign season. However, as we look toward Colorado’s 2016 race, we may already being watching the race set up.

While one Coffman has confirmed he will not be running, he may just be clearing the way for another Coffman for a competitive run.

About The Blogger

– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning “Colorado Inside Out” on Colorado Public Television.

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