Ken Buck won’t seek reelection to Congress, cites “self-serving lies” by fellow Republicans
Ken Buck, U.S. Rep. from Windsor, Colorado will be leaving Congress at the end of next year. He made this announcement Wednesday. It included insults directed at his own party. This is likely to spark a race across eastern Colorado for Buck’s successor.
Five-term Congressman Buck cited “self serving lies” within his own party as the reason for his decision to resign at the end his current term. Buck, the former chairman of Colorado’s Republican Party, recently clashed over allegations about an attack on the U.S. Capitol in 2021.
Buck stated in a late-morning video that “too many Republican leaders lie to America by claiming the 2020 election is stolen, describing January 6 as a tour of the Capitol, and asserting that the prosecutions that followed were weaponization of our Justice System.” These insidious narratives fuel widespread cynicism, and undermine Americans’ faith in the rule-of-law.
Buck, 64 announced the same decision in an interview with MSNBC at around the time. Buck, a prominent voice of discontent within the Republican Party who frequently expressed his frustrations during cable news interviews, had been making rumors about this decision for several months.
It is possible that his impending departure will have a major impact on the race for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District in 2024. The district includes the Eastern Plains and some of the communities on the outer edges of south metro Denver including Castle Rock.
A vacancy in Congress, particularly one that spans a large area of conservative terrain, from Wyoming to Oklahoma, is certain to attract a lot of interest, especially during the Republican primaries.
“I would imagine that everyone who has serious ambitions to run for CD4 and who has the financial and ability resources will more than likely put their name in a hat,” said Richard Holtorf, state representative from Akron and a member the Colorado House Republicans leadership team, who was already considering a challenge against Buck before Wednesday’s announcement. It will likely be a field of 3-5 people, or even more.
Buck, in his video statement, said that Republicans should focus on fighting “leftist policies” regarding immigration, public security, energy, and other issues.
He said that Americans are concerned for the future of their nation and are looking at Republicans in Washington to correct course. Their hope that Republicans will take decisive actions may not be realized. “Our nation is on the verge of a collision with reality. A steadfast commitment towards truth, even if it is uncomfortable, is the only path forward.”
Candidates strike a different tone
Holtorf, a potential GOP candidate who strikes a different note than Buck and supports the unfounded claims of former President Donald Trump that the 2020 elections were stolen, is a possible alternative.
Dick Wadhams – a former Colorado Republican Party Chairman who has been critical of the current leadership – said that he was not surprised by Buck’s retirement. He did not read Buck’s retirement as an indication that the party had given in to conspiracy theories about elections, even though he highlighted their pull.
Wadhams told Buck that he was right. “It’s happening nationally, and it’s certainly happening here in Colorado where a political party is at its lowest point since the 1930s.”
Dave Williams, the current Colorado GOP chair, responded to Buck’s statement by writing to The Denver Post, “While we strongly disapprove of his recent actions, such as opposing the impeachment or election of Jim Jordan Speaker, we wish him well in his future endeavors, and hope that he will cease unfairly criticizing a Party he helped lead.”
Buck was a crucial vote in the ouster of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at the beginning of last month.
He said recently that he had received death threats as well as an eviction order for his Windsor office for refusing to vote for Jordan, the Ohio congressman who has been pushing unfounded claims about 2020 elections, in place of McCarthy. He voted with Republicans to elect Rep. Mike Johnson speaker last week. Buck said that Johnson played a part in the efforts to reverse the 2020 election.
Gov. Jared Polis is a Democrat, who served previously in the U.S. House. He praised Buck for his time in office despite their differences.
Polis made a statement saying, “Ken and me served together in Congress for four years and I have always appreciated his dedication to representing our wonderful state.” “I wish Ken all the best for whatever he decides to do next, and I thank him on behalf of Colorado for his service in public office.”
Cook Political Report gave the 4th Congressional District a partisan index score of R+13 last year, which is more Republican than other districts in the state. This means that the district has performed 13 percentage points better in recent presidential elections than the country as a entire in terms of two-party vote shares.
Wadhams predicted, along with Holtorf that there would be a crowded field in the next election. He said it could be an “interesting challenge” if candidates echoing Trump’s fraud claims are pitted against those who do not.
Wadhams, a 4th District activist, said that election denial would be popular among the activists, even at the primary endorsement assembly. “I’m unsure that a candidate such as that will win the primaries.”
Buck is criticized by both the right and left
John Padora, Karen Breslin, and Ike McCorkle (a Democrat who Buck easily defeated last year) have been collecting money to run again. Prior to Buck’s announcement of his candidacy, Republicans Trent Leisy (R) and Justin Schreiber (R) also filed their papers. However, neither had reported any fundraising.
Leisy is a small-business owner and U.S. Navy vet who has aligned himself with Trump in the past few months as an “America first candidate.”
Leisy wrote on Wednesday, “My RINO opponent, Ken Buck just dropped out of the race over President Trump’s ACCURATE rigged elections claims.”
Leisy, in an email sent to The Post, suggested Buck has “become out of touch” with his constituents, adding: “Those who believe that the American people are put last… are the ones who hurt this country. Such as Rep. Ken Buck who staunchly backed funding Ukraine.”
The Republican field is likely to expand. Holtorf said that Buck’s announcement was not surprising, but it prompted a “meeting of emergency” with his exploratory committee in order to discuss next steps. He said Buck was “unelectable” in CD4.
Holtorf’s website contains a number of complaints against Buck, such as the congressman’s praise for FBI director Ch