One day in September 2016, the actress and singer Bette Midler was fired up.
“Knucklehead GOP congressman @kenbuck, Colorado’s CLIMATE CHANGE DENIER!” she wrote on Twitter.
Midler’s many fans chimed in, further criticizing @kenbuck. But there was a problem: That Twitter handle belongs to a Charlotte, N.C., man who is an education consultant, football fan, Italophile, husband, father and, as his Twitter profile makes perfectly clear, “NOT the congressman from Colorado.”
“Apologies to @kenbuck, nice guy in NC whom I mistakenly targeted instead of @RepKenBuck, Congressman of Colo and climate change denier,” Midler tweeted later that day, correcting the record.
For six years before that weekend exchange, and in the four years since, Ken Buck of Charlotte, N.C., has taken the many mix-ups in stride. The misdirected — and often angry — tweets began with Rep. Buck’s unsuccessful U.S. Senate run in 2010 and “really picked up in earnest when he first won his House seat” in 2014, says the Buck from Charlotte. There have been hundreds of errant tweets, he estimates, but that Midler exchange is still the most memorable.
Just before Thanksgiving of this year, Rep. Buck’s spokeswoman reached out to the other Buck to pass along the congressman’s appreciation, and apologies, for receiving his social media hate mail over the years. The two follow each other on Twitter now and have shared funny stories about the mix-ups.
On Monday, Ken Buck in Charlotte received the latest book from Ken Buck in Colorado, “Capitol of Freedom,” with this inscription: “Ken, don’t blame your parents. They didn’t know that there would be a Ken Buck who is a crazy conservative causing trouble in America when they named you.”
The educator thanked the congressman on Twitter for the book and in return the congressman thanked the educator “for taking my arrows all these years.” Both Bucks have had some fun with it.
“His inscription definitely made me chuckle and brought the whole scenario full circle for me,” the Buck in North Carolina said via email Thursday.
While not as common as, say, John Smith or James Williams, the name Ken Buck is also not especially rare. There are at least three Ken Bucks in Colorado, according to a search of public records, and two in North Carolina. But there is only one @kenbuck on Twitter, making mix-ups an inevitable occurrence.
Even professionals have missed the mark. The social media staff for Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., tagged the wrong Ken Buck account Aug. 23 and never deleted their tweet, despite @kenbuck asking them to.
In most cases, the Buck from Charlotte responds with a polite or snarky correction: “Dude, I’m not the right guy” or “Let’s not bring me into this.” When someone said @kenbuck is responsible for the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, he wrote back, “I seriously doubt I am.” But after being incorrectly included in a Sept. 3 tweet about the pandemic, Buck sounded more exasperated than entertained.
“Not this again,” he wrote.
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