As Don Johnson has noted, U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck earned an important endorsement today from Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and the Senate Conservative Fund:
“There are certainly other good Republicans in this race,” said Senator DeMint, “but I believe Ken Buck is a conservative standout who will fight the establishment in both parties when he gets to Washington.”
At lunch I joined the conference call, and was able to ask Senator DeMint if there was concern about the Buck campaign’s ability to raise money to wage a successful general election campaign. I paraphrase, but his response essentially was:
Ken has had to do it the hard way. He has had to build grassroots support. We are going to make sure he has everything he needs to take his campaign to the next level. Ken is already polling ahead, and people largely don’t know who he is. That’s good news: because it means he has room to expand his lead.
There was a similar phenomenon with Marco Rubio, who started his campaign the hard way building grassroots support, but last quarter he raised $3.6 million. Once people get a chance to meet Ken, hear him speak, and hopefully see some commercials, his support is going to grow.
DeMint is correct about the fact that Ken Buck is less well known than the other leading candidates. The latest Rasmussen survey shows that 17 percent of likely Colorado voters have a strong opinion (either way) of Buck–compared to 36 percent for Republican rival Norton, 38 percent for Democrat Andrew Romanoff, and 50 percent for incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet.
While Senator DeMint noted the importance of raising Buck’s name ID, he also noted that “big name ID isn’t going to win it anymore. People are more engaged and informed now…. What [Ken] has done is what has to be done in this new era: You have to win the hearts and minds of those most active in party.”
Based on my own impressions following the race, I believe there will be very little difference in the voting records of a Senator Jane Norton or a Senator Ken Buck. But the big selling point for DeMint is that he believes Buck would join a small number of Republican Senators who would bring strong, principled conservative leadership to tackle the tough fiscal crisis facing our nation–who aren’t afraid to “buck” the GOP establishment as needed.
“We only need four or five Senators up here, and the Party will follow,” DeMint said.
Combined with yesterday’s news that Jane Norton plans to petition on the ballot rather than go through the delegate assembly process, the DeMint endorsement marks another positive week for the Buck campaign. Ken Buck plans to release 1st quarter campaign fundraising numbers tomorrow.