Buck, Norton alarm media by trading gender barbs; real issue remains Ref C

U.S. GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck mockingly told a crowd at an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms party this past weekend to vote for him and not primary rival Jane Norton because he doesn’t “wear high heels.” The blogosphere is nibbling at the YouTube being passed around where he makes the comment, exploring whether Buck is a sexist. Predictably, Ben Smith at Politico cranked out a piece laying out the basics after a GOP operative sent him the clip. Then the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent around Smith’s blog. But it is a slip of the tongue on conservative/libertarian Independence Institute President Jon Caldara’s “Devil’s Advocate” show this week that spotlights the issue at the heart of the race.

One version of the Buck video going around:

Another with context:

Buck and Norton have traded real punches in their race. She has called him corrupt and ethically challenged. He has called her desperate and, worst of all, a Washington insider. But they have recently taken to comically barbing each other over the fact that she’s a woman and he’s a man, and at least partly perhaps because interviewers keep asking them to detail their differences for voters. That’s what happened here and, as Smith pointed out, Buck was responding to a Norton ad ribbing him for not being “man enough” to attack her himself with Buck-endorsed ads but through ads paid for by political groups not directly connected to his campaign. Buck has benefited greatly by the support of independent groups and Norton has accused him of skirting campaign finance laws by directing donors to contribute to those groups.

But Buck and Norton seem to be on the same page in the gender gibing.

In an interview conducted this week, the Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara asked Norton why voters should choose her over Buck. “What’s the difference?” he asked.

“Well, I’m a girl, first. Let’s get down to the easy ones…”

“Is being a girl important in this?” asked Caldara.

“No it isn’t. I was trying to be funny but it didn’t go well,” said Norton.

The exchange is here at about 2:10:

More interesting for Colorado Republicans is likely the fact that in talking about Norton’s background, even Caldara, a clear fan of Norton if not necessarily a supporter, slipped and called her not the former lieutenant governor but the “Lieutenant Governor of Ref C.” She calls it a Freudian slip. They laugh. Referendum C, though, was the proposal Norton backed as lieutenant governor that stripped Colorado tax payers of surplus funds in order to spend them on education. It passed narrowly at the ballot box. But Ref C is reviled by fiscal conservatives as a spending rather than a cutting government solution. The exchange comes at about 2:40.

Norton tries lightly to pass the blame for her support of Ref C to Gov. Bill Owens. She was his second and was doing his bidding like a good soldier, she explains. That line doesn’t even fly with Norton, you can tell by her delivery.

“The Lieutenant Governor of Ref C” may be the name to etch on Jane Norton’s political tombstone should she lose the primary on August 10.

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