Roundup: Colorado – Personhood, Buck and Lots of Ads

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Roundup: Colorado – Personhood, Buck and Lots of Ads

Robin Marty

The senate race in Colorado is heating up, and Ken Buck gets assistance from a ballot measure and a lot of money. But that might not be enough to secure a victory.

Colorado is no doubt one of the busiest states this election cycle, with a high profile governor’s race and senate race, as well as a controversial ballot amendment.  Republican Ken Buck is still ahead in the polls, but a series of recent controversies has made his victory a little less certain.

The “personhood” ballot initiative is taking a second run in the state, after being defeated soundly in 2008.  Over at Big Think, Cara DeGette discusses how the amendment works as a way to get Republicans to have a greater turnout for the midterms.

Do you think Personhood Colorado put Amendment 62 on the ballot with intention to draw conservatives to the polls, similar to how gay marriage initiatives were used in 2004? Ultimately, do you think Amendment 62 will spur more conservatives to the polls, or more progressives?

From our perspective, Amendment 62 is a rallying call for progressives and conservative voters — and everybody in between — to come out and oppose the measure. It’s not just the impact on reproductive health issues, which everybody should be concerned about. It goes so far that most conservatives, as well as progressives that I know, really have a hard time with the idea of banning emergency contraception, and the Pill, and all abortion — even when a woman has been raped or is the victim of incest, or when a woman’s life is at risk. We also have the fact that this is a huge, huge intrusion by politicians and lawyers and the courts to come into our personal lives, and that is a turn-off for most voters.

Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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The fact that it could in fact turn into a “rallying call” for all voters, not just conservatives, explains how in a fairly conservative state like Colorado, Ken Buck is having a difficult time holding onto his lead.  As the Colorado Independent puts it, “personhood” and Buck create a “perfect storm” of issues.

Amendment 62 and Republican Ken Buck’s campaign for the United States Senate seat held by Democrat Michael Bennet have come together to create the perfect storm for women’s rights advocates in Colorado. Activists, including rape victims who spoke to The Colorado Independent, have been galvanized against Buck for his early support of the “personhood” ballot initiative and for his opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

“When someone is raped, their control is taken away. Rape is about control. If you take away a rape victim’s right to an abortion or even to emergency contraception, you are taking away still more control,” said Jennifer Eyl, an attorney and victims’ rights advocate.

“When you oppose abortion even in the case of rape and incest you are telling the victim that the violent crime committed against them is of less importance than the fact they got pregnant, and that is wrong,” Eyl said.

Amendment 62, the Personhood Amendment is considered a long-shot on November’s ballot. Buck first supported the ballot initiative, which would define a zygote as a “person” at the point of conception, but later backed off, saying he only supports the concept.

Bennet’s ads have been hammering Buck, the Weld County district attorney, for clearly stating he opposes abortion, even in the case of rape or incest, and an alleged victim of a rape claims that her handling of a past pregnancy seems to have colored Buck’s treatment of a five-year-old rape case he refused to prosecute.

Attack ads have been a key to this race, with both candidates being beaten by each other and by special interest groups.  Washington Post reports:

Interest groups and the two political parties have spent more than $17.5 million on the Senate race here since the primary, far more than any other race in the country. Most of those millions have gone toward negative TV ads.

The two Senate races with the next-highest spending, Pennsylvania and Missouri, are far behind with about $11 million and $9.8 million, respectively.

Spending by interest groups has risen dramatically this year, buoyed by a string of Supreme Court decisions and rich donors’ frustration with Democratic policies. Interest groups and political parties have reported more than $250 million in spending so far this election cycle in House and Senate races, according to an analysis of disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission.

About $750,000 of that is spent every day in Colorado, where a tight race in a newly important swing state has drawn considerable interest. No matter their allegiances, voters here appear to have had enough.

“It’s making me crazy,” said Nancy Buchanan, 53, a Democrat and Bennet supporter from Parker, a suburb south of Denver. “I’m sick of it. It’s hateful politics.”

Others say they have seen so many ads that they don’t even listen anymore. “When they come on, I usually just flip,” said Barbara Piper, 68, a real estate agent from Lone Tree, another Denver suburb, who supports Bennet’s Republican opponent, Ken Buck.

Nevertheless, the message seems to be getting through. Bennet’s campaign has portrayed Buck as a flip-flopper with a draconian view of reproductive rights who is “too extreme for Colorado.”

Asked about Buck, Buchanan echoed that message. “He’s taking us back 100 years,” she said.

Buck’s lead is tightening, according to the latest Rasmussen, and the race is now a “toss up” within the margin of error.

Mini Roundup: Polifact claims an ad stating Scott Walker of Wisconsin tried to block women’s access to birth control by advocating for a conscious clause is “barely true,” because “The possible narrowing of access to birth control in some cases isn’t the same as blocking it in all cases.”  Huh?

October 18, 2010