As the Republican primaries for Governor and U.S. Senate begin to take shape, some big name backers are throwing their weight behind the contenders’ candidacies.

Last week, the Motor City Madman Ted Nugent endorsed former Congressman Tom Tancredo for Governor. In the endorsement email, Nugent, who is a major gun rights activist outside his rock star life, wrote:

Greetings, real Americans, 

Yes – this is that Ted Nugent, and you’re probably wondering why the hell I would be emailing you.

Well, I’m not just a rock star and bowhunting addict. I’m a gungho American first and a dedicated patriot fighting for liberty – just like you…

Thankfully there are some heroes we can count on to lead the fight – heroes for liberty like Tom Tancredo.

Nugent’s email probably gave Tancredo a nice boost in fundraising, helping him bring home the largest haul of all the primary contenders.

In the U.S. Senate race, former Colorado U.S. Senator Hank Brown gave his blessing to the candidacy of State Representative Amy Stephens, saying:

“Amy is a strong and principled conservative who understands how to cut spending, rein in government and create jobs. I am proud to endorse her candidacy because I am convinced that she is the best candidate and the only Republican who can win this race in 2014.”

Brown’s endorsement gives Stephens’ candidacy a big boost, as it signals a seriousness to donors and longtime GOP activists. While Stephens has her challenge cut out for her explaining her healthcare exchange bill sponsorship to conservatives, Brown’s blessing highlights that serious players believe she has a real shot of knocking off incumbent Democrat Mark Udall.

Weld County DA (and 2010 U.S. Senate nominee) Ken Buck also racked up a major endorser in former Congressman and former Board of Education Chairman Bob Schaffer. In 2008, Schaffer was the challenger to Udall, so he clearly relishes the opportunity to knock Udall off this time around.

“Ken can get us back on the road to freedom and prosperity,” Schaffer said. “This election is too important to watch from the sidelines. Join me and get involved now.”

Like Stephens, Buck also has some ‘splaining to do to conservative activists after losing a winnable race to Democrat Michael Bennet. But Schaffer’s endorsement shows he’s already convinced key conservatives that he’s prepared to win this time.

It’s going to be a long slog through this primary season, but it’s clear there are some serious contenders out there. Let us know who you support in the comments below.