By Jody Hope Strogoff
THE COLORADO STATESMAN
“Buck” seemed to be the operative word at Lansing Elementary School in Aurora Tuesday night when Republicans from several precincts met for their biennial caucuses.
That would be “Buck” as in Ken Buck, one of the three main candidates running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate and the only one who personally stopped by to bolster his support.
And “buck” as in bucking the establishment.
Both “buckerisms” described this Aurora gathering, which despite some new faces, could be considered pretty mainstream Republican.
How could it be deemed anything else when longtime party worker Kate Tauer was in charge?
The GOP stalwart has been active for years, knows the intricacies of running a caucus like a pro, and commands as district captain with a combination of grandmotherly sweetness and firm control.
But if Tauer were expecting the same old rhetoric from her caucus that night, it was not forthcoming, at least not at the onset.
Senate hopeful Buck began with a firey two-minute speech that elicited cheers from the crowd of several dozen partisans.
In his travels around the state, Buck related, he and his wife Perry, a GOP activist from Weld County, heard the same complaints from people on one side of the state to the other.
And that is, Buck told his captive audience, “that they are sick and tired of the answer coming out of Washington, D.C. always being ‘more government.’”
Coloradans know that the solution to bad government is not more bad government, Buck continued.
“The other thing we have heard consistently from folks is that they have sent Republicans to Washington D.C. to change Congress and instead those folks have been changed by Washington D.C. — and it is time that Republicans started acting like Republicans when they go to Washington.”
“You tell him,” shouted one caucus-goer.
“You hold me accountable,” Buck replied about his hopeful election.
Then, in a voice that became instantly louder, Buck continued, “When I take the oath of office, folks, in January of 2011, I will not take an oath to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. I will not take an oath to the lobbyists who are trying to influence this election far too much.
“I will put my left hand on the Bible, I will raise my hand to take an oath to the constitution of the United States, so help me God,” Buck pledged.
Buck, who didn’t seem to know very many people at the combined caucuses aside from Tauer and his Arapahoe County campaign coordinator, nevertheless got a lot of applause.
Buck didn’t mention former lieutenant governor Jane Norton, one of his rivals, by name but he didn’t have to. For months now, the Weld County district attorney has been railing against the well-connected “establishment” candidate for her Washington connections and “insider” status.
Norton has also incurred the wrath of other conservatives, as well, for her past support of Referendum C and, most recently, for her ties to presidential candidate John McCain.
When it came time for the straw poll at these particular caucuses, the relatively unknown candidate with far less in his campaign coffers emerged victorious. It was 64 for Buck, 27 for Norton, confirming a trend that would be statewide. Ken Buck, at least for now, is suddenly a more formidable contender for the Republican Party’s Senate nomination.