Rep. Ken Buck wants to keep fighting to reduce government spending in second term in Congress | MyWindsorNow.com

Rep. Ken Buck wants to keep fighting to reduce government spending in second term in Congress

James Redmond
jredmond@greeleytribune.com

Editor's note: This is the first of three stories about the race for Colorado's 4th Congressional District. For more coverage of this year's election, go to http://www.greeleytribune.com/elections.

Ken Buck has one focus in Congress. He wants to cut government spending.

The Republican from Windsor campaigned on that point two years ago. Running for re-election this year he's still hitting the same point and saying government needs to cut its spending to make sure this generation's grandkids and great-grandkids have a country with opportunities.

"That's what scares me the most," he said. "We have over $19 trillion of debt right now and we have over $100 trillion of unfunded liabilities in this country, and I'm going to do my very best to continue to not vote for big spending bills and make sure that every penny that is spent is spent wisely and fruitfully."

When he visits his 4th Congressional District constituents — a district spanning most of eastern Colorado — like he did last week at an agricultural roundtable in Windsor, he warns them sometimes that means voting against programs they might want.

Farmers and ranchers last week shared their troubles and ideas for solutions. Buck nodded and listened, told them he wanted to help. But he also warned them balancing the budget is a high priority.

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If the U.S. can't get close to balancing the budget, the country will be in trouble, he said. To that end, Buck said he might have to vote against programs farmers and ranchers want if they cost too much.

That dedication, he said, is a part of promoting the 4th Congressional District's conservative values in Washington.

It's a role many political analysts consider Buck likely to keep, despite two challengers for his congressional seat this election.

"Ken Buck is almost certain to win re-election," Geoffrey Skelley, the associate editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball, with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "He represents a district that voted 59 percent to 39 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012, making it a very safe Republican seat."

The nonpartisan online political newsletter rates the district as a safe Republican seat, and it hasn't attracted any national political party attention because of the seat's security, he said.

Denver-based political analyst Floyd Ciruli hasn't even monitored the 4th Congressional District race this election season because he says it just isn't competitive.

"I don't know a single soul that thinks something is going on in Buck's district," he said. "It's a very difficult district to start with in terms of its partisan orientation. Buck did quite well last time and there is no indication that anything has changed."

Political races like this in the 4th Congressional District tend to be controlled by the affiliation of the voters, Ciruli said. The district is historically predominately conservative and Republican.

"I just don't think there are the indicators that would say this is a competitive race," he said.

Buck said there's a lot of unfinished work in Congress that he relishes the idea of continuing.

"It's an honor to serve. It's my pleasure to serve," he said. "I know I can accomplish a lot of good things for the citizens of the 4th Congressional District."

He said he wants to fix Social Security, to fix Medicare and the country's health care system.

"Sitting at home in Colorado is a great experience, but I want to be in the fight and make sure our grandkids have a better place to live," Buck said. "I have been a fighter the entire time I've been in Congress, and I campaigned on running against big spending."

Looking back on his first term in Congress, Buck said he counts his votes against large spending bills, large budgets and large appropriations bills as successes, even if most of them still passed, despite his opposition.

"It's still a success in my mind to take a stand on issues like that," Buck said.

He also takes pride in his work on bills such as the WATER Act — which makes it easier for water storage and delivery companies to invest in infrastructure and maintenance — and his efforts starting the Article One caucus — which stresses the importance of congress' power to serve as check on the president's authority.

Buck faced challenges in his first terms. Congress has a steep learning curve, he said, and he worked hard to understand. The freshmen congressman also had a couple of rocky moments — allegations of a carbine rifle illegally stored in his Washington D.C. office and a tiff with party leadership he felt put his freshman class president title in jeopardy.

His said his independent streak serves him and his constituents well, though.

"I have voted against my leadership probably as much as anyone in the Republican party. … When it comes to each issue, I look at it and do my very best to decide what's best for America, and I don't feel pressured by my party," Buck said. "I am an independent voice in Washington, D.C., I am not captured by either party or by special interest groups. And I think that's something very important to voters of the Fourth Congressional District, to have an independent voice in Congress."

Get informed

To learn more about the Nov. 8 election, the candidates and issues voters will see on the ballot, go online to: http://www.greeleytribune.com/elections.