Even before the dust settles from insurgent Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle's surprising victory in the GOP primaries, many in the national media have turned their attention toward Colorado, suggesting that the lessons of Nevada could provide insight into the Centennial state's hotly contested senate race.
Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck's (R) recent wave of momentum has positioned him as the next grassroots outsider who could potentially win in a Republican primary -- following in the footsteps of Nevada Senate nominee Sharron Angle (R) and Kentucky Senate nominee Rand Paul (R).
Buck, who has served as Weld County District Attorney since 2004, began the race as a virtual unknown and, once national Republicans convinced former Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton to run, he was expected to disappear into the political ether.
Buck's grassroots support led Norton to reconsider her plan to participate in the state Assembly -- knowing that she would run a distant second to him. And Buck's campaign is starting to get noticed by state and national conservatives.
Cillizza's post comes a week after Sean Miller of The Hill wrote an article noting the similarities between Jane Norton, who was once considered the clear favorite in Colorado, and Sue Lowden, the loser in Nevada's primary.
From the Hill:
Norton, a former lieutenant governor, was set to cruise to the GOP nomination after being handpicked for the race by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
But, like many other party-favored candidates, she has seen her challenger gain some momentum as the primary date draws nearer.
It's a similar situation to what played out in Nevada, where front-runner Sue Lowden saw a Tea Party-backed Sharron Angle snag the nomination after surging in the final weeks. Lowden was widely regarded as the Republican establishment's choice and had an early lead in the campaign, while Angle was seen as the proverbial outsider.
Sharron Angle's victory over Sue Lowden was widely considered to be a blessing for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Angle, whose right wing viewpoints helped her in the primary by endearing her to Tea Party and 9/12 groups, is considered a polarizing figure in Nevada politics who will struggle to gain the support of moderates.
As The Fix points out, Buck, who has also gained the support of the conservative grassroots, may not be as vulnerable as Angle in the general election because has mostly taken positions "within the GOP mainstream."
Polls surveying voters on hypothetical matchups between Norton and Buck and Democratic candidates--either incumbent Michael Bennet or former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff--have shown Buck performing about as well as Norton.
Both parties will choose their nominees in primaries on August 10.