Ken Buck runs for Senate again, hopes to unseat Mark Udall

Greg Campbell | Contributor

Colorado Republican Ken Buck, who narrowly lost his bid to unseat Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet by a mere 1.7 percentage points in 2010, is running for U.S. Senate again.

This time, he has Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in his sights.

“Colorado has endured a weak voice in the United States Senate for too long,” Buck wrote on his campaign Facebook page. “Together, we can replace the East Coast rubber-stamping with strong, common sense values that ensure our liberty and prosperity.”

A Tea Party Republican, Buck has been the Weld County district attorney since 2005 and announced in March that he was battling lymphoma. He later said that after treatment, he was cancer free.

Buck’s wife Perry is a state representative and former vice chair of the state Republican Party.

During the 2010 primary, Buck was a long-shot candidate against then-Lt. Gov. Jane Norton. The Denver Post at the time said his campaign had “laughable fundraising totals and little establishment GOP support,” but his underdog campaign surged to the top despite Norton having double the paid staff and significantly better name recognition.

The two tussled on and off over gender, leading to one of the gaffes that dogged his last run for national office. Responding to Norton’s challenge that he be “man enough” to run his own attack ads, Buck said voters should choose him because “I don’t wear high heels.”

He followed up that comment by saying, “She has questioned my manhood. I think it’s fair to respond.”

But it was enough to put him on the defense about whether he was out of touch with female voters and it gave Norton ammunition throughout the campaign.

Buck also once compared homosexuality with alcoholism during a debate with Bennet on Meet the Press. Although he later said he didn’t mean to equate being gay with having a disease, he conceded that, “there will probably be a commercial on something like that” highlighting his comments.

Buck’s campaign website does not include his political positions, but he is a well-known opponent of abortion and ran his previous campaign on a platform of limited government and fiscal responsibility.

Buck benefited from the support of the Tea Party but rankled some supporters by saying to a Democratic operative who was recording the conversation, “Will you tell those dumbasses at the Tea Party to stop asking questions about birth certificates?”

Buck will face off in a primary with Republican challengers Randy Baumgardner, a state senator whose campaign is focused on energy, immigration and gun rights issues; and state senator Owen Hill, a political newcomer only halfway through his first term as an elected official.

Udall appears to be vulnerable. A Quinnipiac University poll shows him with “lukewarm reelection support,” with a 45 percent approval rating and 31 percent disapproval.

“As Sen. Mark Udall prepares for a reelection campaign next year, he cannot be happy with an approval rating short of the magic 50 percent mark,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a June release.

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