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Michael Bennet-Ken Buck duel: Are they running out of ammo at the showdown?

Thumbnail image for ken buck and michael bennet at 9news debate october 11 2010.JPG
Michael Bennet & Ken Buck shakin'.
It may be the closest political contest of any consequence anywhere in the country. It's certainly one of the most expensive.

As the U.S. Senate battle between Ken Buck and incumbent Michael Bennet enters its final hours, expect to be slimed by nasty ads about the spineless Obama stooge and the wacko antiabortion extremist. But don't count on any "gotcha" moments in this grim, flailing death-grapple.

Judging from the feeble efforts to deliver a fatal attack over the weekend, both camps ran out of ammo long ago, in the midst of prolonged, noisy and bloody primary campaigns. They've been reduced to shooting blanks.

In Sunday's Denver Post, the exhausted Buck partisans tried to hurl explosive charges about the Denver Public Schools pension deal that went down on Bennet's watch. The problem is that Andrew Romanoff tossed the same bomb three months ago -- and it fizzled. It's not clear former DPS superintendent Bennet had any ethical obligation to disclose his JP Morgan stock when that company became involved in refinancing the system's pension holdings, nor is there any evidence that the deal somehow benefited Bennett, who took a bath divesting his stock holdings when he became a Senator.

Not to be outdone, Bennet's folks got the same Post to finally print something about an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation and settlement that went down at the U.S. Attorney's Office when Buck was a section chief there. Secondhand reports about this ancient EEOC complaint have been circulating among local reporters for months -- but the details in the paper were vague at best, with neither the complainant nor the documents involved available for inspection.

Was the complaint justified? Did it entail some personal misconduct on Buck's part? Was it simply cheaper to settle it than to fight it? The article offers no clue.

In fact, the only confirmation the Post was able to find concerning the complaint comes from former U.S. Attorney Henry Solano, who admits being the one who fired the female complainant. The same Henry Solano, a Democrat, who penned a column in the same newspaper defending the GOP's Buck -- and undermining whatever point the EEOC article was trying to make.

Given Buck's shaky position with female voters, the Bennett camp was clearly hoping for more traction out of this decades-old blowup. But the underlying claims in the opaquely reported incident seem to have to do with alleged age and religious discrimination, not gender -- and Buck already weathered far worse when his reprimand over a gun-dealing case came to light during the rock-em-sock-em primary against Jane Norton.

Having withstood the slings and arrows of fellow party members for months, neither candidate is going to be knocked down by a few powder-puff whiffs by the opposition at this late date. This is one race that might actually have to come down to... uh, whatchacallem... oh yes...issues.

More from our Politics archive: "Michael Bennet the next Al Franken?: Read Republican Party chair Michael Steele's op-ed."


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