by Rick Langenberg:
No knock-out punches were landed by two GOP hopefuls in the heavily contested race for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat during a forum last Saturday, hosted by the Teller Tea Party Patriots at the Ute Pass Cultural Center.
In fact, Republican candidates Ken Buck and Mark Aspiri exchanged views and outlined their stands on key issues, but refrained from attacking each other. Instead, they reserved their wrath for current U.S. Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat, who is seeking his second term. The Democratic Party and the Obama administration came under serious attack at the debate, along with the stance of some mainstream Republicans.
The race for the U.S. Senate seat is one of the most contentious in Colorado in 2014. A slew of Republican contenders have entered the contest, with polls indicating an extremely close contest and one that a Republican candidate could win.
A large crowd of Tea Party members and Teller Republicans heard details of the platforms of Buck and Aspiri, who are both vying for the GOP nomination in the forthcoming caucuses, assemblies and primaries. A few other Republican contenders backed out of the forum at the last minute.
Both Buck and Aspiri made it clear they support the fiscally conservative policies of the Republican Party, strongly oppose government regulations and are worried about the current direction of the country. “Let’s recall Mark Udall,” said Buck, a comment that received a strong ovation from a mostly Republican crowd, in what became a theme of both candidates. Buck is a familiar face for Tea Party members. In 2010 he ran for the U.S. Senate in an unsuccessful battle against Michael Bennet. The former Weld County District Attorney referred to Udall as someone who is part of the “Banana Republic.” He reassured Teller residents that he will never be accused of being a “Democrat-like” candidate and is willing to stand up (for your views) no matter what.”
Aspiri, who is the founding member of the Peace and Prosperity 3P
Foundation and a key economic development leader in Colorado also expressed disdain at the current administration and the work of Udall. “I am embarrassed,” said Aspiri, who blasted the current Democratic senators and representatives for not communicating with local counties and communities and Coloradoans. “I will bring your voice to Washington,” said Aspiri.
Both candidates expressed outrage at the current debt the country is facing. “It’s scary,” said Aspiri, in describing the current debt. “I want to ensure that we have a balanced budget and ensure our debt is being paid back,” said Aspiri. Buck agreed and made a big push for a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget. “It will limit federal intrusion,” said Buck.
The candidate also said he would object to any additional federal funding plans, unless they dealt with core functions of the government. The one exception to this would be programs for veterans. Aspiri agreed that Uncle Sam needs to get its fiscal house in order before considering any big spending aspirations. “We are not maintaining the government we have,” said Aspiri.
As for other key issues, both candidates took a skeptical view of a number of government agencies, and suggested that some departments, like education, should be eliminated.
The two differed slightly on the idea of imposing a flat tax, as part of a way to eliminate and reform the Internal Revenue Service. Aspiri said this concept needs to be reviewed further, as it could hurt many middle class people. “A strong flat tax isn’t fair,” said Aspiri. Instead, he favored reforming the tax code and closing loopholes.
Buck appeared a little more supportive of the flat tax, citing the importance of “simplifying the tax code” and doing something about the current high levies that corporations pay. The two also clashed slightly on federal economic development initiatives and technological pushes in rural areas. Aspiri indicated he supports some of these efforts, citing some major high speed Internet gaps in certain Colorado areas.
Buck, though, said he wants government to “get out of the way. Government doesn’t create jobs.” Instead, he says the secret to more economic growth deals with reducing regulations and taxes.
The two, though, practically joined hands when it came to the issue of supporting the Tea Party. Some political critics say that the Tea Party has hindered the Republicans’ chances of gaining power in Washington D.C. and Colorado, and have supported a more moderate Republican Party. This idea was boldly rejected by both candidates.” “Get louder,” said Aspiri, when addressing the crowd last week. He said the Tea Party movement represents the “will of the people” and not the “whims of the people. We are supposed to be Republicans.” “The good news in Colorado is that you got a lot of guns,” quipped Aspiri, in describing Colorado’s opposition to many government regulations.
Of the two candidates, Buck, who was the GOP nominee in the most recent Senate race, made an appeal as the person who could beat Udall. He cited taking back the U.S. Senate and regaining the White House as a top priority.