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Is Colorado's Ken Buck the next Sharron Angle?

Is Weld County Prosecutor Ken Buck the next Sharron Angle? AP Photo

Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck's (R) recent wave of momentum has positioned him as the next grassroots outsider who could potentially win in a Republican primary -- following in the footsteps of Nevada Senate nominee Sharron Angle (R) and Kentucky Senate nominee Rand Paul (R).

Buck, who has served as Weld County District Attorney since 2004, began the race as a virtual unknown and, once national Republicans convinced former Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton to run, he was expected to disappear into the political ether.

Or not.

Buck's grassroots support led Norton to reconsider her plan to participate in the state Assembly -- knowing that she would run a distant second to him. And Buck's campaign is starting to get noticed by state and national conservatives.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) endorsed Buck while the Virginia-based group Americans for Job Security has spent $300,000 worth of TV ads on Buck's behalf.
In recent weeks, two former competitors in the GOP primary, Tom Wiens and Steve Barton, have come out in support of Buck.

Buck, in emphasizing the grassroots nature of his campaign, has struck a similar theme to Paul, Angle and other GOP candidates who have come from behind in recent primaries.

"Some are Ron Paul libertarians," Buck said of his backers in a recent interview. "There's a lot of different categories but they are all much more energized to the point that they are starting to take over the Republican Party. I call them the grass-roots, and that's really where our appeal has been in a bottom-up campaign style."

Unlike Angle and Paul, however, Buck's views on most issues fall within the GOP mainstream. He is in favor of repealing the federal health care overhaul, supports a constitutional amendment banning abortion, opposes cap-and-trade and backs the Arizona immigration law.

Still, some of his stances are potential fodder for Democrats in the fall. (Appointed Sen. Michael Bennet and former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff face off in an Aug. 10 primary.)

For example, Buck supports the elimination of certain federal agencies; he said that the Department of Education should be "immediately reduced," and that completely eliminating the department is "something we have to consider."

Buck added that there are a number of other agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities -- two longtime sore spots for conservatives -- that could be cut completely. "There are things that I think the federal government shouldn't be involved in in those agencies," Buck said.

Defining Buck then as either a candidate of the tea party or the establishment is significantly more complicated than in places like Nevada or Kentucky.

Even Buck seems somewhat divided on where he sits. Asked whether he welcomed the comparison to Paul or Angle, Buck said that "it'd be really good to be compared to Ken Buck," adding that "being a clone of another candidate is dangerous."

Buck noted, however, that he likely shares "a lot of the same views as other grassroots candidates...I think that's why Jim DeMint has endorsed me, because he believes I have similar views as Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey and Rand Paul."

(Worth noting: Two of the candidates mentioned by Buck -- Toomey and Rubio -- recently held a fundraiser with Norton.)

Josh Penry, Norton's campaign manager and a rising star in the Colorado Republican Party, said that Buck's claim to be running a bottom-up, grassroots campaign is "fiction."

"Ken's a Princeton-educated, career government-lawyer," Penry said, noting that the best man at Buck's wedding was Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D). "He's the consummate political insider, and any other argument is silly," Penry added.

Penry also argued that Norton was the first to call for the elimination of the Department of Education last fall, and said that Norton is in favor of term limits as well, "as long as it's across the board" in all states.

Norton, however, is clearly on defense in the race as she tries to shore up her conservative flank from the encroachment of Buck. Witness her latest web video ad in which Norton slams President Barack Obama for his handling of Guantanamo Bay and other terror-related issues; "Liberals in Washington seem to have forgotten," she says as the screen goes black and the sound of a plane is heard. "But we haven't. Let's win the war on terror."

The August Colorado contest is not the perfect establishment versus tea party outsider race -- in the mold of Nevada and Kentucky. But, Buck is clearly trying to tap into the same activist sentiment that drive Angle and Paul to victory. And, Norton is clearly the choice of the state and national party infrastructure.

Given all of that, a Buck victory would almost certainly be cast as the third tea party Senate primary win of the 2010 election cycle.

-- Felicia Sonmez

By The Fix  |  June 17, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: American Crossroads announces 11 Senate targets
Next: Dale Peterson returns, gives a rip


I spent an hour and a half with Mr. Buck (at a town hall in Limon, Colorado) and considerable time with his campaign manager (last Friday) I am firmly convinced that of all the career politicians I have met with he is the least informed and least qualified to hold office. Add in his short fuse and you have a guy much in the mold of a John McCain or a Steve King (minus the corruption). His staff seemed to be courteous and reasonable informed and intellectually curious.

Posted by: jbowen431 | June 21, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Penry is not a rising star in the Colorado Republican Party. That was quite entertaining to have read that. He is a known moderate if not a Progressive in the making. He has flopped from McInnis' campaign to Norton's. And at the Colorado State Assembly he was down right hostile. His political 'career' is over as a Republican. Penry passed legislation that made it more difficult to petition bills onto the ballot. He also made it harder to change our state constitution during a time when we needed to get it changed while under Progressive rule. Penry has become so compromised that the Republican Party would do best to get rid of him from within the party.

One of the reason's Buck is rising past Norton in Colorado is because he does appeal to Colorado Independants. Please realize that Colorado is a very conservative state, so this notion that Buck is too conservative is a Progressive wish not a fact.

Posted by: Springy | June 18, 2010 4:31 AM | Report abuse

Unhappily, bumbling could not hold out from posting as long as drindl could. Tant pis.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | June 17, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Is the Post watching a different Colorado Senate race than I am?

Ken Buck has a rock-solid core of about 10,000 supporters, many of whom were assembly delegates. Buck hit the Republican circuit hard between the caucus and the assembly, no doubt meeting virtually every delegate in person.

Jane Norton turned in 30,000 signatures to get on the ballot, and her base of support reaches from the middle of the Republican Party through the 33% of Colorado unaffiliated with either party into the most conservative quarter of the Democratic Party.

Buck is much too conservative to win Colorado independents, who are moderate on immigration and the environment, Andrew Romanoff is much too liberal for the middle, and Michael Bennet is widely resented as a "carpetbagger".

Jane is just conservative.

Posted by: michaelniland | June 17, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Zouk must have been bouncing off the walls while comments were down. Now they're back, more's the pity.

Posted by: Noacoler | June 17, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

this is the longest in history that drivl has gone without posting.

Posted by: bumblingberry | June 17, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

This primary is likely to be close til the end. I heard a story that Sarah Palin was looking at endorsing Norton. Buck may or may not be able to beat her anyway, and if that happens that will likely give Norton a boost from conservatives enough to win. On the D side this isn't pretty either, with yet another attempted buy off from Obama to Ramanoff. Bennett seems to be in the driver's seat in that primary, but that one too should be close. We could have 1 of 4 combinations in the GE running for this seat. Norton vs. Bennett, Buck vs. Bennett, Norton vs. Romanoff or Buck vs. Romanoff. I would say that Bennett is a favorite and Norton & Buck is neck and neck. Very great primary state for Senate, although for Governor it's McInnis vs. Hickenlooper.

Posted by: reason5 | June 17, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

no bumbler, it's the tea tards that are swarming. Pests.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | June 17, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

your Union dues at work:

A married, obese former president of a Port Authority union admitted yesterday in court to embezzling nearly $300,000 in member dues and using the cash for tawdry hook-ups with prostitutes, casino trips and lavish meals, sources told The Post. Daniel Hughes, 49, who resigned in disgrace from the local Field Supervisor Association, admitted to Judge Eric Vitaliano in Brooklyn federal court that he stole the cash from January 2005 to last December -- bankrupting the account for his 250 members

Posted by: bumblingberry | June 17, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Joe Barton, repulican, grovels to BP:

During a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this morning, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) “apologize[d]” to BP CEO Tony Hayward, accusing the White House of an illegal “shakedown” of the foreign oil giant to secure a $20 billion escrow fund for Gulf Coast damages. Barton repeated the Republican attack that the escrow fund is a result of a White House “shakedown” that contravenes “due process,” saying that he was “ashamed” and would “go to jail” if he abused his elected powers similarly. Although he admitted that BP was liable for the billions of dollars of damages to the American people caused by its catastrophic oil disaster, Barton said “I apologize” that BP had to establish this “slush fund,” which he called “a tragedy of the first proportion”:

Posted by: drindl | June 17, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Moonbats are swarming again.

Posted by: bumblingberry | June 17, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Chris loves those rightwing radicals!

Can't stop pandering to them. Here's another winger for ya, CC:

A tea party-leaning Republican candidate in Raleigh, NC has his own theory about what went wrong on the Deepwater Horizon's rig on April 20. He's calling for an investigation of his theory, but it might be hard for him to get a proper one one unless the FBI can make Mulder and/or Scully available. You see, according to Bill Randall -- candidate for the Republican nomination in North Carolina's 13th district -- what happened in the Gulf involves a conspiracy between BP and the highest levels of the federal government.

"Personally, and this is purely speculative on my part and not based on any fact, but personally I feel there is a possibility that there was some sort of collusion," Randall told reporters in North Carolina yesterday. "I don't know how or why, but in that situation, if you have someone from a company violating a safety process and the government signing off on it, excuse me, maybe they wanted it to leak."

Right. Obama wanted this to happen, see?

Posted by: drindl | June 17, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Curious why the W.P, is so obssesed with
promoting these radical R candidates?
Day after day they bombard us with this garbage and want us to comment
on these lunatic fringe candidates. Perhaps
it makes better copy then to ask what do you
think about moderate/rational candidate x.

Posted by: leichtman1 | June 17, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Chris type out the words, extreme right, so you can be both accurate and descriptive.

Posted by: BobSanderson | June 17, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

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