Ken Buck for U.S. Senate

On Tuesday, April 28, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck announced his plans to challenge Colorado’s freshman Democrat senator. Buck, who has long been rumored to be entering the race, telegraphed his punches on April 23, when he registered the Web site promoting his candidacy — www.buckforcolorado.com.

Before facing Bennet, however, Buck may have to win a Republican primary. Other possible GOP contenders include Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier and former 7th Congressional District Rep. Bob Beauprez, both of whom have expressed interest in the race.

Buck did not return an interview request from The Colorado Statesman, but it’s possible to distill his political viewpoint from his Web site, which pushes a conservative agenda stressing lower taxation, personal freedom and smaller government.

“Today, we face a critical choice between bigger government with epic taxation, debt and intrusion in our lives, or a smaller limited government that leaves us with control of our family and business decisions,” Buck writes on his Web site. “The Washington, D.C., politicians try to fool us to hold on to their power by claiming the solution to government’s problems is more government. Nonsense.”

Buck, a married father of two, has a colorful background. Before serving as Weld County D.A., he worked as a truck driver, high school football coach, ranch hand, school janitor, paperboy and furniture mover. He received an undergraduate degree in political science from Princeton and a law degree from the University of Wyoming. He has served as an adjunct law professor, prosecutor and a businessman.

“He has a background that is familiar to the people of Colorado,” said Jack Stansbery, Buck’s campaign manager. “I think everyone can relate to having those odd jobs early in your life and then going to school and working your way up the ladder. I think it’s an everyday man sort of background. It’s blue collar; it’s white collar. It’s the average Colorado voter background.”

Although he announced his candidacy this week, Buck has been pushing for the Senate seat for at least two months, Stansbery said. He visited all 64 counties in the state during that time and began creating a “grassroots” effort.

Stansbery said Buck’s work at the grassroots level is evident in positive straw polls and a growing list of campaign volunteers. Buck, on the other hand, was quoted in the Greeley Tribune this week saying he has seen a poll that shows him ahead of Bennet and another that puts him behind. The only known poll in the race, released last week by Public Policy Polling, showed Buck behind Bennet — and it would be illegal for Buck’s campaign to run polling before his announcement.

“We’ve seen a few straw polls, but I haven’t asked Ken what polls he was specifically referring to,” Stansbery said. “We, as a campaign, haven’t done any polling, nor have any outside groups done any polling that we are aware of. But we have seen some straw polls. I have not asked him, though, what he was specifically referring to.”

Buck seems more than willing to take on the popularity of President Barack Obama and the ruling Democratic Party in Washington, D.C.

“For the last 3 months, we have watched the government cripple this generation and countless future generations with massive spending,” Buck writes on his Web site. “The answer to our current situation is not to spend more, but to spend wisely. Government has the opportunity to be an example of how to recover from financial woes, not add to them.”

Buck is one of the more high-profile district attorneys in Colorado and has had his fair share of controversial moments.

He was recently hailed by gay, lesbian and transsexual groups for prosecuting the case as a hate crime and winning the conviction of Allen Ray Andrade in the killing of Angie Zapata, a transgendered woman.

On the other side of the civil-rights fence, Buck headed an effort to find and arrest illegal immigrants by seizing suspect tax records. In all, 5,000 tax records were confiscated before a district court ruled that the seizures were unconstitutional. Buck has appealed the case to the Colorado Supreme Court.

“I can’t speak specifically about any case, but, on a broader level, I feel that Ken’s views on immigration, legal and illegal, will fall in line with where a majority of Colorado’s voters are today,” Stansbery said.

Although he earns a slim advantage by entering the race first, Buck is up against some pricy competition. If he wins what will probably be a very expensive Republican primary, he’ll face Bennet, who, in the first quarter of 2009, has raised more than $1.4 million for the 2010 race, setting a record.

However, although raising an uber amount of cash will be essential to winning, like many successful office-seekers, he identifies himself as a grassroots candidate who’s running his campaign on nickels and dimes — a strategy that often earns support and sympathy.

“You will ... find several ways to get involved and to donate to help our grassroots campaign,” Buck says on his Web site.

The race is on.