The GOP U.S. Senate primary has taken another nasty turn this week. With a new attack ad, the Jane Norton camp is painting opponent Ken Buck as an old-boy sexist. The ad features remarks he made at an event this past weekend, when he said voters should choose him because “I don’t wear high heels.”
As the Colorado Independent was first to document Wednesday, Norton has been happy up to this point to participate in a ribbing back and forth with Buck on gender. She has repeatedly joked that the main difference between the two candidates is that she’s a woman and he’s a man, and her campaign has repeatedly referred to her gender in a lighthearted tone, saying for instance that voters should send her to DC to give Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a “high heel” kick in the shins.
No one’s laughing anymore.
The Buck campaign sent out a release last night on the gender war titled “Norton’s Double Standard.”
Why is gender an issue in the U.S. Senate Race? Ask Jane Norton.
Today, the Norton campaign launched another desperate smear against Ken Buck.
Last Friday night, U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton was a guest on conservative Jon Caldera’s program, Devil’s Advocate. Caldera asked Norton “What is the crucial difference between the DA from Weld County, Ken Buck, and the former lieutenant governor?” Jane responded, “Well, I’m a girl first.” Caldera asked, “Is being a girl important in this race?” Norton replied, “No, it isn’t. I was trying to be funny, but it didn’t go well.”
Joking or not, this was not the first time that Norton and her campaign have mentioned gender as an important qualification for candidates in this race. They have done so repeatedly.
This is a continuation of the way that Norton has framed the choice in this campaign for the last year, a framing that was accelerated after hiring campaign manager Josh Penry.
At a forum in April, Penry said, “We need someone to kick Harry Reid in the shins, and Jane is going to do that with her high heels.” (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, April 1, 2010).
The Norton campaign wants gender politics to be an issue in this campaign. They are the ones who have talked about it. Last week, she even put up a television ad in which she says, “you would think Ken would be man enough to do it himself.”
On Saturday, when Buck was asked the question, why should we vote for you, Ken responded “because I don’t wear high heels” making a humorous reference to the way Jane Norton and her campaign have repeatedly cited gender as a defining difference in the choice between her and Ken Buck.
The fact is, gender has nothing to do with Norton’s drop in the polls or Ken’s Buck’s rise, no matter how hard the Norton campaign try to use personal attacks on Ken Buck to shift the campaign away from the issues like rising unemployment, out of control spending and illegal immigration.
Primary ballots were mailed out across the state this week. Look for a Buck ad to hit the airwaves soon. The Democratic side of the contest pitting Sen. Michael Bennet against former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff has likewise turned heated and ugly on the air this week, with one Democratic consultant calling Romanoff’s recent ad a “scorched earth” tactic.