Ken Buck had every reason to smile Tuesday night.
The Weld district attorney of Windsor won comfortably in the Republican 4th Congressional District primary election Tuesday night with 44 percent of the vote against state Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, (24 percent) Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer (16 percent) and Fort Collins businessman Steve Laffey (15 percent). With 20 of 22 counties reporting as of Thursday, Buck received 32,450 votes, Renfroe (17,577), Kirkmeyer (12,071) and Laffey (11,349).
“I felt like we were ahead from a lot of the feedback on the ground. There was some good polling information out there. But truth be told, up until the time that Weld reported, which was early, I really didn’t know how this would go,” said Buck at a victory party at Cazadores Mexican Grill & Cantina in Greeley.
In Weld County, out of 29,232 ballots (34 percent), Buck got 45 percent of the vote (10,012 votes) to 28 percent for Renfroe (6,157), 15 percent for Kirkmeyer (3,277) and 12 percent for Laffey (2,588).
It’s been a heck of a year for Buck. He battled lymphoma cancer last year and won.
“It has been a blessing. God has really been good to me, and I am so thankful that I’m done with the cancer, and I am in a physical position where I can deal with the rigors of a campaign like this,” Buck said.
Buck, 55, switched from the U.S. Senate race against incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in the spring to fill the seat left vacant by U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, who is running against Udall. After losing a close race (48.1 percent to 46.4 percent) against Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010 for the U.S. Senate seat, Buck will now face Trinidad Democrat Vic Meyers in the general election in November for the 4th CD seat.
Buck said throughout his campaign he was running to fight against erosion of the people’s constitutional rights and reduce government spending.
“I think those are the keys. When you talk about an umbrella like the erosion of constitutional rights, you’re talking about education and common core, you’re talking about the EPA,” Buck said. “It is really best to focus on those two things and work to really build a coalition with other members of Congress if I’m fortunate enough to win in November.”
In the 22-county 4th CD, Buck said he got his message out in living rooms, churches, schools, coffee shops, truck stops and anywhere someone was willing to listen to him.
Renfroe, who placed first in the 4th CD assembly in April, said he’s disappointed in the outcome but he was excited for Buck.
“I called him and congratulated him and told him anything we could do going forward I would do,” said Renfroe at a gathering at Zoe’s Cafe in Greeley. “I endorsed him and anything we can do to get him across the finish line in November, we will.”
Renfroe said he was thankful for all the support he received.
“Ken’s been running for at least two years, so that’s a tough obstacle to overcome. We were honored to be in the race. The results are disappointing, but that’s a part of politics,” said Renfroe, who said he hasn’t ruled out politics again after eight years as a state senator.
Kirkmeyer didn’t return several phone calls. Laffey said he wanted to wish Buck all the best.
“We gave it all we had. I have a very different view for the people of the 4th Congressional District,” said Laffey from his Fort Collins home. “We’ll all be fine tomorrow morning and we’ll have to find another way to help fix America. Ken’s a good man. God bless him and I’ll try to help him.”
Buck supporter Harold Buxman of Greeley said Buck will be a congressman for the people if elected in November.
“I think he’s going to be just the person we need to voice the opinion of his constituents,” Buxman said. “I’ve known Ken for years. He’s a very ethical and moral man.”
Dennis Kane of Severance said Buck has conviction.
“That’s rare in Washington. Ken will stand up for the Constitution,” Kane said. “Ken will bring the issues up and will bring pressure on the Republicans to stand for something again. The guy is a warrior, who knows the Constitution inside and out.”
Kyle Saunders, a political analyst and political science professor at Colorado State University, said it wasn’t a surprise that Buck won.
“This is what we thought would happen even with all the drama and the money that has come into the district,” Saunders said. “The money and the name recognition that Buck had and running in a statewide race before really paid off.”