The nasty spat between senatorial hopefuls Ken Buck and Jane Norton, sparked in part by a planned Saturday appearance by super-Alaskan Sarah Palin, has rumbled throughout the week preceding tomorrow's Republican state assembly in Loveland.
Norton's skipping the bash, having decided to petition her way onto the ballot. But Buck is planning to attend every event he possibly can today and tomorrow in advance of Palin's speech, which he's planning to attend even though she may endorse Norton during her remarks.
And he's also attacking Norton for what spokesman Owen Loftus characterizes as aspersions cast on the convention and delegates to it.
"This morning, Ken's going to be meeting with a few different congressional assemblies, and a few of the other senate district assemblies," Loftus points out. "This evening, he'll be attending the 'GOP Red, Blue and U' barbecue," being held near the Budweiser Events Center complex where the assembly itself will be happening. "And then, we'll have a reception, so people can meet Ken on a more personal basis."
After that, it's "the big day," Loftus notes -- and it starts mighty early: "Check-in is at 6:30 a.m., and Ken will be there soon after. I believe the Senate goes first, and Ken will speak last of all the candidates because he won a drawing. We're expecting that to be between 9 and 10 a.m." Then, the voting process begins, with everything expected to wind down by mid-afternoon, in plenty of time for anyone who's interested to drive south to Denver in time to catch Palin's rap.
Earlier this week, Norton blasted Buck's suggestion that it would be rude of Palin to endorse his opponent on the same day as the convention. Loftus fires back, using some of the remarks attributed to her.
"Ken thinks it's unfortunate that Norton is playing politics as usual," he says. "This weekend is about unifying the party and bringing Republicans from across the state together. And while they were scraping their dollars together to drive out to Loveland and stay in a hotel for the weekend, she was calling them 'good ol' boys' and calling the assembly process a 'backroom deal.' And that's really uncalled for. Colorado Republicans deserve better than that, especially from someone who's seeking their votes."
Norton also insinuated that Buck views the assembly as a "coronation" -- an assertion that earns a scoff from Loftus.
"He doesn't view this as a coronation at all," he says. "From our perspective, we hope it will be a second victory for Ken, after the precinct caucuses in March -- and something that gives the grassroots delegates a voice, even though Jane's turned her back on the process. And we think it's going to give Ken's campaign a big boost."
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He's hoping the sudden allergy among voters nationwide to anyone viewed as being too closely tied to D.C. power brokers will help, too.
"Ken got into this race in 2009 because of what people around the state were telling him," Loftus maintains. "But when Jane got in, she said it was because she got calls from the Washington establishment. She's trying to run away from that now, but the establishment there and here are behind her -- and the comments she's made this week just shows how Washington has gotten the choice wrong again. When it comes down to it, it should be Colorado's choice, not Washington's."
As for Palin's pick, we may know more about that tomorrow night.