When the Denver Post published a detailed account of events that led to Ken Buck's reprimand at the Colorado U.S. attorney's office, you could practically hear the Jane Norton campaign licking its chops. Now, however, it seems Buck's blunder is being used as a rallying cry on the right.
Norton, Buck's opponent in the Republican primary for Colorado Senate, has been pushing negative stories about Buck for weeks since Buck's unlikely ascent as the front-runner in the race.
The Post story involved a 2000 case in which Buck, then an assistant U.S. Attorney, elected not to pursue charges against an Aurora pawnshop and Republican donor who was under investigation for possible weapons crimes. When the case was later revived, Buck shared sensitive information with the defense attorney regarding prosecutor's doubts about the case.
The discussion earned Buck a reprimand from then-U.S. Attorney John Suthers. He has since admitted that he made a mistake, and apologized.
In a release immediately following the publication of the story, Norton, whose campaign has unabashedly framed the final legs of the primary as a race to the right, scolded Buck, boasting that she "didn't need an ethics class to know what's right."
However, far from discouraging Buck's supporters, many of whom are part of various right-wing grassroots movements, Buck's behavior in the U.S. attorney's office is now being trumpeted as a sign of his commitment to gun rights.
Erick Erickson, an influential conservative blogger who made headlines when he endorsed Buck months before most thought he could win, called the candidate "an American hero" for his actions in the U.S. Attorney's office.
Erickson wrote on his website, Redstate.com:
The Jane Norton campaign is attacking Ken Buck for his actions in this case. She and Democrats are all saying Ken Buck behaved irresponsibly and should drop out of the Senate race.
Me? How is it not awesome that a man risked his entire legal career to shut down political motivated prosecutions designed not just to advance the political career of a Democrat hack, but also designed to undermine the legal permitting and purchasing of firearms?
This should qualify Ken Buck for automatic hero status, not pariah status.
It says more about Jane Norton's campaign that she wants to vilify the man for doing the right thing. Or, I guess it says more about her campaign staff. They're the ones pushing out this story.
Erickson, considered a key arbiter in grassroots conservative movements, has teamed with South Carolina senator Jim DeMint to raise money for conservative candidates throughout the country. His endorsement in February was considered a key moment in the race
Both parties will choose their nominees in primaries on August 10.