Grassroots candidate Ken Buck: confident enough not to pander

Weld County D.A. and GOP U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck made a campaign stop at the Longmont Public Library yesterday. His take on flash-point issues such as federal health-care reform legislation, immigration and energy development seemed a throwback to a pre-Tea Party age. He said there were parts of health reform that were worthwhile. He said we had to move away from oil as a top energy source as a nation. He said the solution to illegal immigration must include a policy that streamlines the process to become a legal resident. In contrast to his opponent, frontrunner Jane Norton, Buck seemed to personify his message: that “Republicans need to start acting like Republicans again.” He mans they should stop acting like Democrats, but he might also have meant not catering to every impulse of the growing Tea Party movement.

The Longmont Times-Call was at the meeting:

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Buck presented himself as a grass-roots candidate against well-funded opposition that was “dropped behind the lines by John McCain and Co.” He rarely referred by name to opposing candidate Jane Norton, who has the endorsement of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but the audience was a little more direct.

“I heard Jane Norton, and she is a RINO (Republican In Name Only),” Ellyn Hilliard, one of roughly 22 people in the audience, told Buck.

Buck called the current federal policy on illegal immigration “broken.” He said the nation needs to strengthen its border security but to reform the process so that it’s easier to become a legal immigrant.

He also said government spending and size need to be shrunk. But while he opposed much of the health-care bill before Congress, he stopped short of calling for a complete repeal.

“I think it’s irresponsible for any Republican candidate to say they’re in favor of wholesale repeal of the health-care legislation,” Buck said. “I think there are parts — maybe small parts, such as electronic medical records — that are worthwhile.”

Buck also said the country needed a “smart energy policy” that included a role for nuclear and renewable energy, as well as for natural gas to displace oil. Doing that, he said, would give the U.S. fewer strategic interests in the Middle East.

These positions have the ring of reality to them, like they could lead to legislation that might be passed. Compare that to Norton’s recent call to abolish the Department of Education. Buck seems confident in his record, in his conservative bona fides. The Jane Norton in the videos streaming around the web and onto cable news, not so much.

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