The Race to Define Ken Buck

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On Tuesday, as soon as county prosecutor Ken Buck won the Colorado GOP nomination to the Senate, reporters began scrambling to get a read on him. Sen. Michael Bennet, the Democratic incumbent backed by the White House, had a clear narrative. But Buck came out of nowhere and balanced a traditional, establishment background with an insurgent identity.

David Catanese and Jonathan Martin outline this contrast in Politico:

Among political candidates, there has always been a familiar type: the white-hot ambitious prosecutor with an Ivy League degree, hoping to turn crime-chasing credentials into a ticket to a prestigious job in Washington.

Lately, there have been plenty of examples of another type: the party-crashing insurgent, whose intemperate words and hard-line ideology cause the political establishment to recoil.

It is rare for both types to come in one package. Meet Ken Buck: New York native, Princeton graduate, former Justice Department lawyer, tea party favorite and, as of Tuesday night, the Republican nominee for Senate in Colorado.

Democrats are eager to brand Buck as another Sharron Angle or Rand Paul, Tea Party candidates with extreme views. But Buck has a plan to fight off this characterization:

By being accessible and answering questions from the media, something Angle and Paul have avoided at times for fear of committing a gaffe, Buck, the Weld County district attorney, said he can dispel Democratic attempts to demonize him. ...

Buck also resisted the tea party label. He said a better description is that he is the candidate of the "grass roots."

"It is a much broader group than just tea parties," he said. "What I'm saying to everyone in the media is, don't put labels on me."

If Buck succeeds in convincing Coloradans that he is a legitimate candidate rather than a Tea Party puppet, Catanese and Martin report, he could pose a much bigger challenge to Bennet than the Democratic establishment is expecting.

Read the full story at Politico.

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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