The U.S. Senate campaign for Weld County D.A. Ken Buck reportedly knew nothing of the ad before it aired and even now isn’t sure where the ad is running. “I heard it’s playing on the networks. I think I found that out from the [Denver] Post,” Spokesperson Owen Loftus told the Colorado Independent. “It was made by that 527, so we had no contact before it ran, and we can’t have any contact with them now.”
Loftus said the appearance of the ad was a pleasant surprise in that it dovetailed with a tour Buck has taken around the state recently. “I think it has helped getting Ken’s name out,” he said, adding that it may have also helped fuel the bump in contributions the campaign has seen in the last couple of weeks. The ad has definitely fueled speculation that powerful forces are lining up behind Buck to defeat GOP frontrunner Jane Norton.
The organization behind the ad, Campaign For Liberty, told TPM that the ad is not a strict candidate endorsement, which would violate the law. The ad is intended instead to promote the libertarian/conservative group’s candidate issues surveys.
“We want every candidate to answer our surveys. So as soon as another candidate answers our survey, we’ll probably do another ad stating that,” said spokesperson Gary Howard.
At conservative website Rocky Mountain Right, speculation is that the ad may have come out of a national strategizing conference call hosted in November by the Senate Conservatives Fund, founded by RedState‘s Erick Erickson and Sen. Jim DeMint. The main point was to decide which U.S. Senate primaries were the most important ones to watch. “The Colorado race was near the top of the list,” writes the RMR blogger.
Soon the Buck campaign was encouraging supporters to send messages to the fund making the case for Buck. Is the Senate Conservatives Fund behind the new Buck ad?
That’s not the only theory. In the comments thread of a Colorado Independent story this week, a Norton supporter offered a preview of the kind of whispering attacks that Buck might come under as his grassroots candidacy builds steam. The commenter suggests the ad was the work of wealthy Colorado gay-rights activist Tim Gill who, the theory goes, is supporting Buck because last year Buck chose to prosecute the murder of transgender Greeley resident Angie Zapata as a hate crime. The prosecution was a victory for the Zapata family and the gay community that rallied around the trial.
Compared to the speculation it’s generating, the campaign ad itself is pretty vanilla. It features a montage of photos running behind a low-tone voiceover that hits on predictably vague strongly worded talking points:
“Career politicians are stealing our liberty and bankrupting our country.”
“[Buck’s] a tough prosecutor who will take on the D.C. insiders.”