This morning a post appeared on Rocky Mountain Right about the first announced Republican candidate in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race:
Reports are trickling out that [Ken] Buck has split with Phase Line Strategies, a Republican consulting firm made up of GOP veterans who would have probably been fulfilling most of Buck’s fundraising and communications needs, and that his campaign manager may have departed as well. Details are sketchy at this point, but the reports are coming from enough directions that it appears very likely to be true.
Earlier this afternoon I called Ken Buck and recorded our conversation, to get a clearer picture of the story directly from the source.
First, Buck said he and his campaign have had no formal relationship with Phase Line Strategies:
What happened was a couple months ago I was visiting Sean Tonner, and Sean indicated that he had a lot of business clients and other things, but he would be happy to help me get up and going on this campaign. And in the meantime I would be interviewing folks and talking to folks and whatnot. One of the first projects that I did was get out to all 64 counties in the state, and Sean sort of kept me going as I was out and about. And as we’ve gotten our feet on the ground and announced, I’ve had a chance to talk to Walt Klein, and decided that Walt would be a great fit for the campaign. That’s the direction we’re going right now. So there wasn’t ever really – I’ve never retained Sean, or paid Sean. He was doing it to volunteer, to help me out, and I appreciate all his hard work on the campaign.
Currently, Walt Klein is the general consultant for the Ken Buck campaign.
In response to a May 1 Colorado Statesman article that quoted Jack Stansbery as Ken Buck’s campaign manager, Buck said that Jack has not been hired or employed by him or the campaign:
At this point, there is no campaign manager. There won’t be a campaign manager on this campaign for a few months. So whether he felt the need to give himself a title, or whether someone else gave him a title, I don’t know whether he was quoted or whether someone assumed that he was the campaign manager, but he was helping coordinate things with Sean because he works in Sean’s office. But we have never hired a campaign manager, and I’ve never given anybody the title of campaign manager. But again, Jack has spent a lot of time getting this campaign up and running, and has been a real valuable asset to us.
Finally, I asked Buck about the following quote attributed to him in an April 29 Greeley Tribune article:
Buck said he believes he can cross political lines and get support from unaffiliated and Democratic voters. Heâ€™s seen early polls, but he doesnâ€™t put much stock in them.
â€œIâ€™ve been ahead (of Bennet) in some polls, and been behind in other polls,â€ Buck said. â€œI think itâ€™s too early to tell.â€
However, there has been (to my knowledge) only one public polling matchup (PDF) between Michael Bennet and Ken Buck. To explain the discrepancy, Buck said:
That was a half-right quote, a half-wrong quote. …[A] Greeley Tribune reporter had asked me if I had seen any polling about myself and my opponent. And I assumed that he was talking about Ryan Frazier. And I said I had seen some things, that my opponent was ahead on a few, and I was ahead on a few. And they were sort of the blog polls. I don’t know if it was Colorado Pols or Face The State or which ones they were, but there were two or three of them out there. I know that Ryan spoke at the Douglas County Lincoln Day Dinner, and they took a straw poll, and Ryan did very well at that. And then on one or two of the other polls, the online polls, I had done better than Ryan. And so when I answered the question it was never defined as Ken Buck vs. Michael Bennet, it was just “opponent”. And the previous few questions had to do with Ryan Frazier or other potential Republicans in the race. And so it was not a tight answer, but I think that’s where that misunderstanding arose.