Colorado: Buck first GOP challenger to Bennet |

Colorado: Buck first GOP challenger to Bennet

DENVER, Colorado ” Colorado’s newly appointed freshman senator has his first formal Republican opponent.

Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck confirmed Tuesday that he has filed papers to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010.

Buck made his long-expected candidacy official after touring the state and setting up a campaign Web site. Also expected to challenge Bennet is Republican Aurora City Council member Ryan Frazier, though Frazier has not filed papers of candidacy.

Buck, 50, has been district attorney in Weld since 2004. He’s best known for an identity theft investigation targeting illegal immigrants in Greeley. His office seized thousands of tax records, though a judge earlier this month ruled the investigation was too broad and ordered Buck’s office to return the documents.

Buck said Tuesday he hopes to raise about $8 million to challenge Bennet. He’ll need it ” Bennet has shown in his first few weeks of office he’ll be able to raise a sizable sum. Bennet raised nearly $1.4 million in his first quarter, according to federal election reports.

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Bennet was superintendent of Denver schools before being appointed earlier this year to fill two years remaining on the term of former Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar. Salazar is now interior secretary.

Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter chose Bennet to fill Salazar’s seat, though Bennet must stand for re-election next year.

Buck says he’ll run his campaign on classic conservative themes. Earlier this month he appeared at “tea party” tax protests against federal spending.

“We’ll highlight a message of fiscal discipline and personal responsibility,” Buck said.

A campaign spokesman for Bennet did not immediately return a call Tuesday.

Ken Buck campaign:

Michael Bennet campaign:

Ryan Frazier campaign:

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