LOVELAND – Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck celebrated his primary win Tuesday night over Jane Norton as a victory for true conservative principles and the willingness to stand up for them against an unresponsive Washington culture of excess.
“The solution to bad government isn’t more government,” he said on a stage filled with supporters. “Across the state I have seen the frustration among Republican voters…. We rallied on April 15th against spending. We said ‘Don’t let the government take over health care.’ We said ‘ Secure the borders.’ … They heard us but they ignored us. But in November, we will be heard.”
Buck’s daughter introduced him to the crowd as the AP reported Buck winning 51 percent of the vote to 48 percent, with roughly 60 percent of the precincts reporting.
“People ask me all the time, ‘Why should my dad be senator?’ I say, ‘Because he’s cheap.’ He has a gross Velcro wallet that he’s had for 20 years. He’ll have it for 20 more years. We need someone like him in Washington.”
Buck’s son, a student at West Point, called in to congratulate him on the victory.
Buck said he wanted to work to rebuild a future for his children and children throughout the country. Indeed, he echoed a Ronald Reagan-style theme, one that has been cropping up on the campaign trail and on talk radio, suggesting that the tone in Washington is defeatist and weak and that, in effect, it could be “morning in America” again after the GOP notches victories in November.
“The message we’re getting from Washington is clear. The message from the [Obama] administration is that we’re not special, that we’re the same as other countries. But that’s not what I learned in school. I think we’re an exceptional country,” he said, and the crowd responded with an extended cheer.
“I’m Ken Buck and I hope you’ll work with me to make the kind of history our children and grandchildren can be proud of.”
Throughout the night here, as primary vote tallies flashed on big video projection screens, Buck supporters cheered whenever the rolling tallies showed Sen. Michael Bennet leading his Democratic primary opponent, Andrew Romanoff. Bennet appears to have won by nearly 10 percentage points.
Buck later told the Colorado Independent that general election voters will have a clear choice. They’ll be choosing between a “Colorado conservative and a Washington liberal.”
He said Jane Norton had been extremely gracious in conceding the race and that he didn’t see any lingering split among Colorado’s conservative voters – that is, between the tea party and the mainstream Republican party.
“When people understand the differences between Ken Buck and Michael Bennet, Republicans will unite and we will be able to reach out to unaffiliated voters. The contrast between a Colorado conservative and a Washington DC liberal is going to be stark for voters come November.”
He said his victory wasn’t strictly about the tea party and its support for his candidacy but about more general frustration on the right.
“People are frustrated with Republicans going back to DC and voting one way and then coming back here and campaigning in Colorado a different way. Unfortunately, while Jane Norton hasn’t been in DC and doesn’t have a voting record, she was associated with that group of people who have done that in the past, and so so I was able to, as an outsider, as a county district attorney, I was able to capitalize on that, and that became an important issue.”
Yet Buck’s victory is an unmistakable victory for the tea party here. In Colorado, the tea party has been more widely embraced and at least as organized as it has been anywhere else in the nation. Tea party leaders were in attendance in significant numbers at Buck’s victory party, including unabashed defeated Fourth District tea party congressional candidate Dean Madere, who told the Colorado Independent Buck won because he is a “man of the people” who “speaks plain.”
Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams was also in attendance and he was clearly relieved that this heated primary, where one of the worst things the candidates could say about each other was that they were backed by the state party and the GOP establishment, was over.
“I’m happy to be done with this neutrality stuff,” he said to a small clutch of reporters as he smiled and shook Buck’s hand.
[Photo: Ken Buck and Dick Wadhams ]