Polling now puts the U.S. Senate race in Colorado pitting Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet against GOP Weld County DA Ken Buck as a dead heat, with the momentum swinging toward Bennet. Rasmussen, which has put Buck ahead for months, now labels the race a toss up and Public Policy Polling reports that moderate and women voters may well decide the election, two groups now going for Bennet in big numbers.
How is the Bennet campaign seizing on the reported momentum?
“We’ll get independents and women out the same way we’ll get everyone else out to vote: phone calls, door knocks, on the ground,” Bennet told the Colorado Independent. “We’re not leaving anything to chance.”
Bennet’s ground game may have received a shot of adrenaline this weekend from Buck, when in a joint appearance on national Sunday morning talk show Meet the Press, the GOP Tea Party candidate seemed nervous and less well prepared.
Buck repeated that he had no regrets about how he handled a 2005 rape case from which audio tapes show him pressing the victim in ways that rape victim advocates have decried as callously and stereotypically blaming the victim.
Buck also said he thinks homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, comparing it to alcoholism. He suggested gay people might be genetically predisposed toward same-sex attractions the way alcoholics are predisposed to addiction and that they might similarly fight that predispoition.
Gay groups and rights groups decried Buck’s remarks as bigoted and anti-science and as more evidence that Buck fits with the 2010 crop of radical-right Tea Party candidates out of step with the mainstream, candidates like Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Joe Miller in Alaska.
Buck said his wording was not ideal but that voters this year are not placing a priority on social issues. He said fiscal matters are the priority. He added that his views on social matters would not translate to policy changes.
“The social issues that come before the Senate are fairly narrow,” he told Politico. “And if someone asks me a question on Meet the Press, I’m going to answer the question. [The] reality is, there isn’t that much in the United States Senate that is going to influence those kinds of issues.”
Even casual observers of Congress know that’s not the case. Colorado’s senators Bennet and Udall, for example, this past week pushed a letter to the Obama administration signed by 19 members of the Senate asking that the justice department not contest a ruling against the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell gays in the military policy. The Defense of Marriage act outlawing marriage for same-sex couples will also very likely draw review in the coming years, forced by ballot initiative contests waging this election season in states across the nation.
Buck told Politico he didn’t mean to imply that being gay is a disease.
“I certainly didn’t mean it that way. What I meant was that I think there are a variety of factors, and I was trying to explain. Frankly, in 800 interviews, meetings, events, [I’ve] never … been asked that question before. Colorado voters aren’t focused on whether it’s a choice or whatever.”