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Gazette Premium Content ENDORSEMENT: Elect Ken Buck, the rational and competent choice (see poll)

Wayne Laugesen Updated: October 11, 2010 at 12:00 am

Democratic senatorial candidate Michael Bennet seems to have little interest in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. For that reason alone, southern Colorado should get out the vote for Ken Buck, the soft-spoken, articulate Weld County district attorney who favors limited government and free market solutions to our country’s financial crisis and broken health care system. Buck will make a great new member of the United States Senate.

“I expected a nut,” said one member of The Gazette’s editorial board, expressing surprise at Buck’s superb ability to present his moderate agenda.

Members of the board expected extremism, probably because of an ad campaign by Bennet that relies mostly on utterances by Buck that have been used out of context deliberately. One ad features Buck referring to himself as an “extremist.” In full context, Buck is discussing efforts by opponents to portray him as too extreme.

In meeting with The Gazette’s board, which poked and prodded in an effort to elicit extremism, Buck came across as one of the three most impressive candidates we interrogated. Questions were answered directly with clear information and ideas.

Buck has an impressive grasp of the country’s immigration dilemma, advocating compassionate and sensible reforms that begin with a secure border. He wants the country to get real about the number of foreign workers the economy needs to grow and provide for the social security and pension needs of an aging population. Unlike most politicians, Buck integrates economics, immigration and demographics — three factors that are intractably intertwined. He speaks of immigration without the emotional us v. them hype and hysteria that has been used for political expedience by lesser politicians.

“One of the most immoral things this country has done is to create a situation in which workers our economy needs have had to live in the shadows,” Buck said.

Buck believes the problem with our national, state and local economies relates to electing what he called an “activist government” at the same time the country slid into recession. He explained that an activist government — one advocating swift and dramatic changes in policy — may be fine during good economic times. During a recession, aggressive policy changes — such as health care reform and energy taxes — cause investors and businesses to hoard cash instead of creating new goods, services and jobs.

“They don’t have the certainty and confidence to go into the market and risk capital,” Buck said.

He’s not alone in understanding the fundamental economic dangers of higher taxes and radical regulation shifts, but he’s better than his peers at expressing them.

(Vote in poll to the right in red type. Must vote to see results. Thanks!) > > >

Though some board members expected a far right partisan cowboy, Buck blamed Republicans for excessive spending and failure to enact free-market reforms to health care. He dislikes President Barack Obama’s health care reforms, yet he blames Republican inaction for ushering it in. He told the board health care is neither an absolute right nor an absolute privilege.

Asked about his no-exceptions opposition to abortion, Buck said he isn’t running to impose a social agenda. He said the U.S. Senate does not make decisions regarding a woman’s right to an abortion. He is correct. Abortion law falls mostly in the jurisdiction of state legislatures and federal courts.

Buck told the board he would not hesitate to battle anyone in Washington who interferes with Colorado water projects or reasonable economic development efforts. He wants to make it known to the military establishment that El Paso County is military-friendly. He has spent a substantial amount of time in El Paso County and exudes concern for southern Colorado.

So where is appointed Sen. Michael Bennet? The Gazette cannot begin to answer that. Of all campaigns invited to board meetings, none was contacted more frequently and consistently than Bennet’s. Most calls and e-mails were unreturned. At one point, a major Bennet supporter took over in trying to arrange a meeting and convinced us to hold off on a decision until all efforts were exhausted. As we became more assertive in our efforts to meet with Bennet, it became clear that he had no interest in speaking with the board of the second-largest newspaper in Colorado. Michael Bennet thinks Colorado means Denver. He would be bad for Colorado Springs.

Vote for Ken Buck, a reasonable, moderate candidate who plans to succeed for all of Colorado.

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