GOP Senate candidate Buck responds to criticism, firing jabs of his own

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck told about 60 supporters Thursday in Grand Junction that while he was campaigning on his GOP opponent’s home turf, Jane Norton was in Washington, D.C.

Buck, the Weld County district attorney, also took the opportunity to correct what he said was a misstatement by the opposition, that he had served as Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter’s best man at his wedding.

“Bill was the best man at my wedding,” Buck said, asking his conservative-dominated audience whether any of them counted Democrats as friends.

He and Ritter served in the same Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office in the early 1990s under Mike Norton, Jane Norton’s husband, he said.

Nonetheless, he would no more trust Ritter to manage Colorado’s public lands than he would trust President Obama to manage the state’s federal lands, Buck said in response to a question about whether the state government could administer the national forests in Colorado.

“While I’m here in Mesa County,” he said, “my opponent is in Washington, D.C. She’s had four fundraisers in D.C.”

Norton’s campaign manager, Josh Penry, meanwhile was noting that Buck’s campaign has received at least $150,000 from employees of Hensel Phelps Construction Co. and its CEO, Jerry Morgenson. Hensel Phelps, based in Greeley, has received large amounts of money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“I don’t know that that is the case,” Buck said.

Buck spoke for about 90 minutes, fielding questions ranging from the stimulus — “Everybody here knows the stimulus didn’t work” — to Referendum C, which had the support of Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, and his lieutenant governor, Jane Norton.

Republicans who supported Referendum C, billed as a timeout from the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, cost the party its high ground on the tax issue, Buck said.

Norton, whose campaign appearances have been filmed by a Democrat Party observer, was criticized by Democrats for supporting the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education.

No opposition observer tracked Buck’s appearance Thursday, but he said he wouldn’t support eliminating the Education Department “on Day 1” of his tenure in the Senate.

He would, however, support eliminating many Education Department programs immediately.

“We need to trash whole agencies,” Buck said. “We need to shrink whole agencies.”

Gone, he said, would be the national endowments for the arts and humanities. The Energy Department also would endure severe scrutiny, he said, having failed to lead the nation to energy independence.

Buck is seeking the GOP nomination to run for the Senate seat occupied by Democrat Michael Bennet, who is challenged in his party by Andrew Romanoff, a former speaker of the Colorado House.


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