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Democrat Joe Miklosi To Challenge Mike Coffman

DENVER (AP) - Democrat Joe Miklosi of Denver says he's made up his mind and will challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in the Denver suburbs next year.

Miklosi has filed paperwork to run against the two-term incumbent. Miklosi currently lives in southeast Denver, not the 6th Congressional District. Miklosi, who has been mulling a congressional run for a while, says he'll move to the 6th District as soon as a court settles on new district lines.

"I'm running because I want to restore job growth, economic growth, to increase prosperity," said Miklosi, who works for a Centennial nonprofit that sends medical supplies to developing countries and was elected to the state Legislature in 2008.

Mike Coffman
Rep. Mike Coffman (credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Miklosi is gambling that the ultimate district will become friendlier for a Democrat. The current 6th District leans heavily toward the GOP but must shrink because of population growth over the last decade. Miklosi says he plans to move to Centennial or Greenwood Village.

"We think the district is going to become much more competitive," said Miklosi, who said he plans to move to Centennial or Greenwood Village once the district lines are drawn. A court hearing about district lines is scheduled for October.

Coffman told donors earlier this year that he was worried about attempts to tweak his solidly Republican district. He decried Democratic plans to make the district less Republican, especially a Democratic plan that shifted parts of the suburbs to a Democrat-leaning district dominated by Denver.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Coffman dismissed Miklosi as a "liberal from Denver."

Coffman is a former state House member and secretary of state who was elected to the 6th District in 2008. He succeeded the retiring Rep. Tom Tancredo, who launched a short-lived run for president that year. Coffman has never faced a well-funded Democrat for his congressional seat; last year he handily defeated Democrat John Flerlage.

Miklosi told The Associated Press Wednesday that major differences between him and Coffman include support for a path to citizenship for students who are illegal immigrants. Miklosi co-sponsored an unsuccessful plan to allow immigrants in-state tuition in the state House last term and says he'd back similar legislation on a national level.

"This is a work-force development issue," Miklosi said.

Coffman opposes the idea. Last year Coffman released a statement calling a Democratic plan to allow citizenship for illegal immigrants in college a "nightmare for the American people" because it could encourage more illegal immigration.

Miklosi also argues the national debt ceiling must be raised as a short-term stopgap as a long-term debt solution is considered. Coffman voted in May against raising the national debt ceiling.

"The voters of the 6th Congressional District will have to decide if they want someone in Congress with the courage to take on the tough issues or someone who will tell them what they want to hear as our nation slips deeper and deeper into a debt crisis," Coffman said in a statement Wednesday.

Miklosi did not say how much money he hopes to raise to challenge Coffman. He has filed candidacy papers with federal elections authorities but not reported any campaign contributions.

- By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer

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(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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