Today Politico examines a potential problem for Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck — an issue that we have said for a long time will be problematic for all GOP candidates for statewide office in 2010. The problem is that when you tack far to the right in order to please your base, you end up a long way from the middle, which is where you need to be to win a General Election:
He’s questioned the constitutionality of Social Security, toyed with phasing out the federal student loan program and spoken of lowering the wall that separates church and state.
Meet Ken Buck, the Colorado Republican Senate primary candidate who looks like the next Rand Paul or Sharron Angle – another tea-party-backed insurgent poised to upset the GOP establishment favorite.
Like Paul and Angle, whose post-nomination rollouts were notably rocky, the upstart Weld County district attorney carries with him similar made-for-cable-TV political baggage. And like those two, Buck’s more unconventional statements haven’t received a full vetting yet…
…Like Paul, who was pilloried for hedging on whether he would have voted for landmark civil-rights legislation, and Angle, who ended up fleeing a local television reporter who inquired about her plan for “transitioning” out of Social Security, Buck has delivered a series of sound bites that Democrats view as a treasure-trove of opposition hits.
At a March forum, he drew hearty applause after calling Social Security “horrible, bad policy” and questioning whether the federal government should be involved in administering it.
“I don’t know whether it’s constitutional or not; it is certainly a horrible policy,” Buck said. “The idea that the federal government should be running health care or retirement or any of those programs is fundamentally against what I believe. And that is that the private sector runs programs like that far better.”
During an appearance in May on a local radio program, Buck suggested that the government should not be in the business of providing student loans.
“Over time, we have to wean the American public off those,” he said.
On several occasions, he’s advocated for a closer relationship between God and government. Last fall, at a forum at Colorado Christian University, the Colorado Statesman reported that Buck “emphasized his conservative values, expressing his opposition to the principle of separating church and state.”
Throw in a call to scrap the Department of Education and Buck’s support for “birther” legislation in response to a minority that fears President Barack Obama isn’t an American citizen, and Democrats have the ingredients for a series of defining ads that could frame Buck on the fringe.
Ouch. Being compared to Rand Paul and Sharron Angle is not strong praise. To review, here’s a quick list of the problematic statements for Buck:
These positions may be swell in rallying support for a Republican Primary, but Buck is going to have some ‘splaining to do to the swing voters in Colorado who, time and time again, have shown their preference for the most moderate candidate.