Colorado Republican Doug Lamborn, the nine-term congressman who chairs the House Armed Services subcommittee that oversees the nation’s nuclear arsenal, intends to retire at the end of his term, his office confirmed on Friday.
Speaking on the Richard Randall talk radio show, Lamborn thanked “the good people of El Paso County,” and God, for the opportunity to serve in the nation’s capital.
Voters in Colorado’s 5th District backed Donald Trump over Joe Biden by 10 percentage points in 2020, and the race to fill the seat this year is rated Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.
Lamborn won his current term by nearly 16 points in 2022 after spending only $611,000, and giving another $119,000 to other candidates and party committees. He had less than $200,000 in his campaign account on Sept. 30.
The deadline to file to run in Colorado’s June 25 primary is March 19.
Lamborn’s decision means three of Colorado’s eight House seats will have new representatives next year. Rep. Ken Buck said in November he would retire after this year, and fellow Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert said after Christmas she would run in Buck’s district in eastern Colorado rather than her own more competitive district in the western part of the state.
The 69-year-old Kansas native has represented Colorado’s military-heavy 5th District, which includes the state’s conservative stronghold of Colorado Springs, since 2006. Before being elected to Congress, he served in the Colorado state legislature.
Lamborn’s departure will mean a reshuffling of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which he chairs. The next most senior Republican on the panel is Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina. Another of the panel’s Republicans, Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, is running for Senate.
As the senior Republican on the panel, Lamborn was able to exert sizable influence over the annual defense policy bill.
Part of the Coloradan’s district includes Peterson Space Force Base, which houses Northern Command and NORAD as well as U.S. Space Command, following a protracted battle over the headquarters’ location.
Last year, Lamborn placed himself at the center of a protracted lobbying effort to keep U.S. Space Command, which is headquartered in his district, from relocating to Alabama.
Although Peterson was selected as the initial site of Space Command, then-President Donald Trump during the final days of his administration announced the HQ’s relocation to the Army’s Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala. After a review of that decision, President Joe Biden in July 2023 reversed it.
Lamborn’s successful advocacy, in which he argued that keeping Space Command in Colorado protected national security interests and eschewed political ploys, put him at odds with powerful Alabamians on the House Armed Services Committee, including GOP Chairman Mike D. Rogers.
A foreign policy hawk, Lamborn has consistently voted in favor of supplying Ukraine with aid in its ongoing war against Russia, arguing in part that Ukraine’s military is helping to destroy Russia’s armed forces.
He has also panned China and Iran for “collaborating with Russia” in its invasion of Ukraine, and sought to build the U.S. nuclear arsenal as a way to deter all three nations.
In February of 2023, following news that China had surpassed the U.S. in its number of land-based fixed and mobile ICBM launchers, Lamborn issued a joint statement with Rogers, Senate Armed Services ranking member Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee ranking member Deb Fischer, R-Neb., calling it “a wake-up call.”
The development of new nuclear weapons, including the sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N) which was opposed by the Biden administration, and hypersonic technologies to compete with China remained top priorities for Lamborn.
And on Israel, Lamborn has urged continued U.S. support for the nation, now at war with U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
He has pushed for the replenishment of Israel’s Iron Dome rocket interception system, and in November co-led a bipartisan House resolution affirming Congress’ intent to “provide Israel with sufficient material to defend itself against rocket strikes from Hamas and its other proxy groups.”
Herb Jackson contributed to this report.