The Buck stops here: Colorado Republican Ken Buck said Wednesday he will not seek reelection in 2024, and he harshly criticized members of his party for “lying to America” about the 2020 presidential election and the riot at the Capitol that followed it.
Buck, 64, announced his decision during an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell in which he discussed the speakership fight that left the House rudderless and Republicans at one another’s throats for most of the past month.
Buck played an instrumental part in that chaos as one of the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats to boot Kevin McCarthy from the speaker’s office. He then opposed Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio in their bids for the gavel, citing their votes against certifying the 2020 election. But he ultimately voted for the new speaker, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, who also voted against certification and filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit that sought to set aside Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, which Buck himself co-signed.
“I always have been disappointed with our inability in Congress to deal with major issues, and I’m also disappointed that the Republican Party continues to rely on this lie that the 2020 election was stolen,” he said on MSNBC. “If we’re going to solve difficult problems, we’ve got to deal with some very unpleasant truths or lies and make sure we project to the public what the truth is.”
Soon after the MSNBC appearance, Buck echoed those comments on a video he posted on X. “Our nation is on a collision course with reality and a steadfast commitment to truth, even uncomfortable truths, is the only way forward,” he said. “Too many Republican leaders are lying to America, claiming that the 2020 election was stolen, describing Jan. 6 as an unguided tour of the Capitol and asserting that the ensuing prosecutions are a weaponization of our justice system. These insidious narratives breed widespread cynicism and erode Americans’ confidence in the rule of law.”
Alluding to House Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger’s own retirement announcement earlier Wednesday morning, Buck hinted on MSNBC that more Republicans would follow them, saying, “I am not going to seek reelection. I am joining Kay and probably some others in the near future.”
First elected in 2014, Buck is an idiosyncratic conservative who has consistently marched to the beat of his own drummer during five terms in Congress. He’s a member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus who voted against impeaching President Donald Trump but also has bemoaned his own party’s recent steps toward impeaching President Joe Biden.
As ranking member in the last Congress on House Judiciary’s Administrative State, Regulatory Reform, and Antitrust Subcommittee, he worked closely with then-Chairman David Cicilline, one of the most progressive members in Congress, on a suite of competition bills aimed at Big Tech.
“We are really polar opposites on most issues,” Buck told Roll Call in 2022. “Yet when it comes to this area, there’s a lot of overlap, and there was the ability to set differences aside and work.”
Buck’s announcement probably won’t change the makeup of the House: He won reelection in his solidly conservative Eastern Colorado district with 61 percent of the vote in 2022. He easily fended off a primary opponent that year who had challenged Buck after he voted to certify the 2020 election and had expressed support for former GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, who supported Trump’s second impeachment.
Buck’s retirement will set off an open scramble among Republicans to replace him in the 4th District, which Trump carried with 57 percent of the vote in 2020. No Republicans so far have reported fundraising to the Federal Election Commission for a run there.