Buck raised $219,000 in first quarter campaign cash

U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck notched $219,000 so far in 2010, his campaign announced Thursday. It’s no great figure in statewide race for national office where he’s battling through a tough primary. But the figure dwarfs his total for the last quarter of 2009, when he raised a mere $40,000. The bump is another signal that support for the Buck grassroots is building. The campaign reports Buck now has $417,000 cash on hand.

Although Buck GOP opponent Jane Norton announced an $816,000 haul for the first quarter, fundraising has never been a challenge for Norton in the eight months she has been running. Norton enjoys deep ties to the national party and to corporate lobbyists.

Usually, the biggest news of the race this week would be the disparity in the campaign cash hauls. Surprise strategy turns and key endorsements, however, have at least partly turned the spotlight away from cash.

Norton seems to have miscalculated in her decision to bypass the state Republican delegate convention and petition directly onto the November ballot. Once the clear frontrunner, Norton said she was ready now to begin running directly against Democratic Senator Michael Bennet. The primary race, though, is far from over and GOP grassroots voters are more keenly aware of that fact than ever.

Buck defeated Norton narrowly in the caucus strawpoll voting in March and has won support from hard-line conservative issue groups, which have forked out hundreds of thousands in advertising for Buck. On Tuesday came word that Tea Party favorite and leading national voice for disgruntled Republican voters South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint endorsed Buck, joining Eric Erickson of the grassroots right RedState blog, the two men backing Buck through their Conservative Senate Fund.

“I want to facilitate the support on the ground in Colorado,” DeMint said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. He said Buck had low name recognition compared to Norton but that his polling will only rise over the next weeks. “I want to shine a light on Ken Buck. I want to help him raise money,” said DeMint.

He also said that Buck has been frugal in his campaign. “I think you’ll see Ken’s cash on hand is substantial.”

Norton has spent significantly in the past month, particularly in the weeks before the caucus voting. The full campaign records will likely be available Friday.

The Buck release:

The Ken Buck for Colorado Senate Campaign announced a total receipts of $218,791 raised in the first quarter of 2010, more than five times the receipts in the last quarter of 2009. The receipts include a $100,000 loan from Ken Buck.

Fundraising for the Buck for Colorado campaign picked up dramatically after Ken Buck’s victory Colorado Republican precinct caucus straw poll in March.

“This race is about the people of Colorado,” said Buck. “I am humbled by the support of the more than two-thousand grassroots supporters who have contributed to my campaign, and the thousands more who signed up to volunteer.”

Fundraising momentum carries into April with the announcement of U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint’s, R-S.C., endorsement on Tuesday. The Senate Conservative’s Fund has pledged to raise grassroots funds for the Buck campaign. SCF helped Marco Rubio, Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Florida, raise more than $350,000.

“With the support of Colorado’s grassroots on our side, and with the boost of the Senate Conservative’s Fund, we are well on our way to making history in Colorado,” added Buck.

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