The next Angle/Paul

THE NEXT ANGLE/PAUL…. Nevada’s Sharron Angle and Kentucky’s Rand Paul are noteworthy because they’re extraordinary — it’s simply not common for radical ideologues on the fringes of American political thought to win major-party primaries for the U.S. Senate. Candidates like Angle and Paul come around from time to time, and generate some extremist excitement, but cooler heads traditionally prevail. This year, Angle and Paul actually won their respective primaries, and may yet join the Senate.

But what’s especially important right now is that while Angle and Paul collectively set the bar for painfully ridiculous 21st-century Senate candidates, there are others who may qualify for their right-wing contingent.

In Wisconsin, there’s a case to be made that GOP Senate hopeful Ron Johnson fits comfortably in Angle/Paul fringe. In Florida, some have made the case that Marco Rubio is of their ilk. In Pennsylvania, former Rep. Pat Toomey is clearly hanging onto the far-right cliff of his party.

And there’s Colorado’s Ken Buck, who is arguably the strongest choice to complete a crazed triumvirate with Sharron Angle and Rand Paul.

He’s questioned the constitutionality of Social Security, toyed with phasing out the federal student loan program and spoken of lowering the wall that separates church and state.

Meet Ken Buck, the Colorado Republican Senate primary candidate who looks like the next Rand Paul or Sharron Angle…. Like Paul and Angle, whose post-nomination rollouts were notably rocky, the upstart Weld County district attorney carries with him similar made-for-cable-TV political baggage. And like those two, Buck’s more unconventional statements haven’t received a full vetting yet.

Democrats promise — and Republicans fully expect — that will change if Buck continues his trajectory against former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton in the Aug. 10 primary contest.

Buck hasn’t been shy about trashing Social Security, calling for the end of the federal student loan program, announcing his opposition to church-state separation, and even supporting “Birther” craziness.

Buck, of course, is being rewarded for his extremism. The Republican establishment recruited former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton into the race, and considered her the likely nominee. But Buck has struck a chord with the party’s hysterical base, and appears well positioned to defeat Norton in the GOP primary.

Whether the statewide mainstream — in any of the states with right-wing candidates — finds this brand of extremism compelling remains to be seen.