By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Despite heavy media coverage, one political pundit doesn’t think Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck’s saying that being gay is partially a choice, like being an alcoholic, will have a significant impact on the election.
However, Colorado gay rights groups continued to hammer on Buck for saying on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” that being gay is partially a choice and “birth has an influence, like alcoholism and some other things.”
Aaron Harber, a political pundit and columnist for the Denver Daily News, doesn’t think Buck’s comment on gays will significantly hurt him on Election Day because most gay rights groups likely weren’t backing him to begin with. However, Harber doesn’t think the comment will help Buck, either.
“This likely is not a major issue but Buck’s appearing to be confused on the issue may have hurt him more than the issue itself,” he said. “He would have been smarter to say ‘I don’t know,’ if that truly were the case.’”
Meanwhile, The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado (The Center) yesterday sent out a press release saying that Buck’s comments don’t reflect the views of the majority of Coloradans.
“It is unfortunate that an individual seeking an elected position that would represent the people of Colorado would choose to say such things, a nervous mistake or not,” said a statement from Carlos Martinez, executive director of The Center “What is clear is that such comments are not reflective of the truly inclusive nature of this state.”
Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, one of four openly gay or lesbian Colorado state legislators, added that “it is frightening that such dangerous and blatantly incorrect rhetoric is coming from a candidate so detached from the majority of Coloradans.”
Bennet battered, too
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Buck’s opponent in the general election, also took some hits during “Meet the Press.” Bennet was asked during the TV news show about the stimulus package and health care reform, two controversial measures that he voted for.
The fact that President Barack Obama and Democrats have not highlighted key principles in health care reform with which most Americans agree — elimination of denial of coverage, wider coverage, lifting lifetime coverage caps etc — while leaving themselves open to attacks for the legislation’s failures — such as insufficient medical cost controls, no caps on health insurance premium increases, forced policy-buying, etc. — spells trouble for the appointed senator, according to Harber.
“It is likely Bennet’s vote will be characterized by his opponents in Colorado as the vote which got the health care bill approved,” he said. “Of course, that could be said about each senator who voted for the legislation.”
A Rasmussen Reports poll released Sunday showed that the race between Buck and Bennet is now a virtual tie. The poll of likely Colorado voters shows Buck with 47 percent support to Bennet’s 45 percent, with 4 percent preferring another candidate and another 4 percent undecided. The race has been closely watched throughout the country and has brought in the second highest amount of outside spending, according to The Sunlight Foundation, a campaign finance watchdog agency.
“People already are voting because mail ballots were received beginning October 14th so the key will be who can do the best job of turning out his supporters,” said Harber. “ In 2008, Colorado Democrats did a far superior job than Republicans and surprisingly won races across the state. In 2010, Republicans have the edge in enthusiasm. If the Buck campaign and the Republican Party can do a better Get-Out-The-Vote effort, Buck will win the race.”