Dems aim to pit dad against his gay son
Democrats are trying to recruit the gay son of a Republican lawmaker who was a swing vote against a civil unions bill to challenge his father in his re-election bid this fall.
The son, 45-year-old Dee Coram, made international news in May when his father, state Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, cast the swing vote in a Colorado House committee against creating civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.
That vote came during a three-day special session called by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper after Republican leaders in the House used questionable parliamentary procedures to kill a similar bill during the 2012 regular legislative session.
Dee Coram, who operates a coffee shop in Montrose, later spoke to several national media outlets about the controversial issue, saying he was disappointed in his father’s vote.
Now, Democrats in the heavily Republican House District 58, which stretches from Montrose County to the Four Corners, are trying to talk Dee Coram into replacing its nominated candidate, Gregory Thornton, who chose late last month to drop out after he decided to take a job in Aurora.
“It would be an interesting race if Dee Coram were to jump in,” Montrose County Democratic Party Chairwoman Jayne Bilberry said. “I broached the question to him. He’s an intelligent man who reflects Democratic values. It would be an exciting race if he were to chose to run.”
To date, though, only one possible candidate — a woman — has filed a letter with the HD58 Democratic Party Central Committee expressing her intent to run, said Bilberry, who declined to name that candidate.
The committee has until Sept. 2 to name a new candidate, which means candidates have until Aug. 24 to file, district chairman Bill Patterson said.
“As the committee chair, I have to stay neutral, but I know a lot of people are talking to Dee,” Patterson said. “I’m sure, if Dee is thinking about it, it’s going to be long and hard. It is his father he’d be running against.”
Patterson and Bilberry said Democrats in the district know that whoever enters the race would have a tough time getting elected because Republicans outnumber Democrats in the four-county district by a 2-1 margin.
Having Dee Coram as its candidate, however, not only would give him immediate name recognition, but also put him on a statewide, and even national, stage, Bilberry said.
“We are a conservative district, but we have populations coming in who are from the urban areas who are a little bit more open-minded,” she said, referring to civil unions.
“Don Coram is a little bit out of touch because even modern Republicans are ready for this.”
While Dee Coram could not be reached for comment, his father said he found the idea of running against his son “hilarious.”
The freshman representative said he won’t give his son any campaign advice, but did joke with him about why he would want to “lower his lifestyle” by being a member of the Colorado Legislature.
While Coram said he would take whatever candidate the Democrats put up against him seriously, he questioned the wisdom of trying to make the race about gay rights.
“But bring it on, if that’s what you guys want,” Don Coram said. “If that’s what they want to make the race about, let’s go for it.”