A national tea party organization has endorsed Owen Hill in the Republican primary to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, but several other tea party groups in Colorado aren’t in support of the endorsement.
Tea Party Express on Monday announced it was backing Hill over frontrunner Ken Buck, the Weld district attorney. The tea party group backed Buck in 2010 when he barely lost a race against Sen. Michael Bennet. But Amy Kramer of Tea Party Express, which held a grassroots meeting in Greeley on Monday night, says the group picked Hill this time because it thinks he can win statewide.
According to Buck’s communications director Melanie Harmon on Monday, Buck and his campaign are not making any official comments on the subject.
But a Colorado Issues Coalition news release said Monday that the Colorado Tea Party Patriots, Arapahoe Tea Party, 285 Corridor Tea Party, Evergreen Tea Party, North JeffCo Tea Party, Lakewood Tea Party, South JeffCo Tea Party and Bears Ears Patriots stand together to disavow the endorsement for Hill, a 31-year-old state senator.
Also in the race for the Republican nomination are State Rep. Amy Stephens, State Sen. Randy Baumgardner and businessman Jaime McMillan.
“This out-of-state organization with no local grassroots ties does not speak with the consent nor consensus of the many tea party, 9.12 and other liberty groups in Colorado,” said Regina Thomson, president of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots.
The news release also said that Colorado grassroots organizations are composed of thousands of independent voters who are educating themselves on the merits of individual candidates by way of analysis from Principles of Liberty, Colorado Union of Taxpayers, forums and direct conversation with the candidates. Individual groups are not endorsing candidates and do not want the actions of Tea Party Express to confuse voters in Colorado.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last week had Buck trailing Udall 45 percent to 42 percent among Colorado voters. Hill trailed 44 percent to 39 percent. Baumgardner and Stephens trailed Udall 43 percent to 41 percent in the poll. Buck lost to Bennet by less than 2 percentage points (48.1 percent to 46.4 percent) in 2010.
Buck said in a Tribune interview last Friday that he’s maintained his support with conservatives and is getting a lot more assistance from all sides of the Republican Party.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.