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Republican U.S. Senate primary pits Norton against Buck

In a U.S. Senate race that has tightened up over the last few months, former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton has found her edge slipping as Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck has moved to close the gap in the final weeks before the Aug. 10 primary.

A July 7 Rasmussen Reports poll shows Buck performing slightly stronger than Norton in head-to-head races against Democratic challengers. The poll has Norton leading incumbent Michael Bennet 47-40 percent, while the same poll gives Norton a 44-42 percent edge over Bennet’s Democratic challenger, former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

The same Rasmussen poll gives Buck a 48-39 percent lead in a Bennet challenge and 47-42 percent lead over Romanoff.

A June 21 Public Opinion Strategies poll (a Republican polling firm) has Norton leading Buck by a 39-33 percent margin. However, a Survey U.S.A. poll from the week before gave Buck a 53-37 percent lead over Norton.

The race between Buck and Norton captured national attention when former Rep. Tom Tancredo, speaking at a rally last week for Buck, said, “The greatest threat to the United States today ... is the guy who is in the White House today.”

Buck quickly distanced himself from Tancredo’s remarks and soon after the rally said, “I love Tom, but I don’t always agree with him ... I don’t agree that the greatest threat to the country is the man in the Oval Office.”

That same day, Norton wrote on her Facebook page that, “There was a real measure of truth to what Tancredo said ... Obama’s brand of big government is a threat to America.”

Norton’s remarks supporting Tancredo (who has openly supported Buck’s campaign and criticized Norton’s campaign), indicates a primary campaign in which both candidates have scrambled to win favor with the most conservative elements of the Republican party.

Ideologically, very little distinguishes the two candidates. While a debate between the candidates in late June showed mostly common ground between Buck and Norton (with both pledging support for the other following the primary). In fact, the only difference stated between the two is that Norton supports “doubling down” in Afghanistan by sending more troops, while Buck supports seeking a “reasonable” exit strategy (with no firm timeline).

jim@pagosasun.com