Republican Senate primary candidate Jane Norton recently taunted her opponent for not being "man enough." He responded yesterday by telling voters they should pick him because he doesn't wear high heels. Yes, this is the actual level of debate.

Here's Norton's original ad:

Some context: Norton, a former Lieutenant Governor, is struggling to declare her independence from the establishment in the August 10 race against Tea Party favorite Buck. Really, there's no reason to root for either of them, as a recent Time story indicated:

Norton, who boasts the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the antiabortion Susan B. Anthony List and a slew of sitting Senators, has tried to blunt Buck's momentum by wresting the "outsider" mantle back. On July 9, she made headlines by saying there was "a real measure of truth" to former Representative Tom Tancredo's assertion - made while the outspoken former Colorado Congressman was stumping for Buck - that the greatest threat to the U.S. was President Obama himself. For the record, Buck thinks she's wrong. "It's the progressive liberal movement," he says.

Norton is also responsible for bringing up gender repeatedly, Palin-style: both as an excuse to berate Buck for not being "masculine," and as a desperate attempt to differentiate herself without actually having any substance behind it. According to The Denver Post:

Norton campaign manager Josh Penry said in an appearance on her behalf in April that the Republican Party "needs somebody to kick Harry Reid in the shins, and Jane is going to do that with her high heels."

In an e-mail to reporters last week, Penry wrote, "The longer this race goes on, the clearer it becomes exactly who's the hand-held, hyper-managed, purely political candidate. And it ain't the one in the skirt."

And just last week in an interview with Independence Institute president Jon Caldara, when Norton was asked what the difference is between her and Buck, she said, "Well I am a girl, first."

All of which is why it wasn't a non-sequitur when Buck was asked at a lunch event yesterday why people should vote for him and he replied, "Because I do NOT wear high heels." He added, "She questioned my manhood. I think it's fair to respond," Buck explained. "I have cowboy boots on. They've got real bullshit on them. That's Weld County bullshit, not Washington D.C. bullshit."

Politico's Mike Allen quotes a "Republican operative": "This is very likely a game-changer because this primary is a mail-in ballot only, and the female electorate makes up a majority of voters in the Colorado Republican primary (held on August 10th)."

Bullshit is right — and that goes for both of them.

Senate Race Becoming Rife With Gender Jabs [Denver Post]
Playbook [Politico]
Vying to Be the GOP Outsider in Colorado [Time]
Ken Buck: Vote For Me Because I Do Not Wear High Heels [HuffPo]