Skip to content

Colorado’s Ken Buck to make early exit from the House next week

Fifth-term Republican had previously said he would not run again; Boebert seeking his seat

Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck is resigning from the House effective next week.
Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck is resigning from the House effective next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Ken Buck is fed up with Congress, calling it “dysfunctional,” and plans to make an early exit next week, further shrinking the House GOP majority’s slim hold.

“This place has just evolved into this bickering and nonsense and not really doing the job for the American people,” Buck said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.

After nearly a decade in Congress, the Colorado Republican said he will resign his seat and leave Washington on March 22. His last day is also the deadline for Congress to pass a second package of six fiscal 2024 appropriations bills, or else trigger a partial government shutdown.

While he had announced plans in November not to seek reelection in 2024, Buck’s early departure sets up a special election for a candidate to serve out the rest of his term.

In a year marked by Republican infighting and one missed legislative deadline after another, Buck said after nearly five terms in office that he’s had enough: “It is the worst year of the nine years and three months that I’ve been in Congress, and having talked to former members it’s the worst year in 40 or 50 years to be in Congress,” he told CNN.

The House Republican majority will be left with just 218 members to the Democratic minority’s 213. That means Speaker Mike Johnson can afford to lose only two votes on legislation if all members are present and voting and all Democrats vote down the measure.

But there are other open seats in play that could further affect the fragile balance of power.

Buck would be leaving just as voters are set to fill one of the vacant seats where Republicans dominate: California’s special primary election to fill the seat left empty by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy is set for March 19 — though with nine candidates in that race, a failure by one to get 51 percent of the vote would trigger a special general election on May 21.

And yet another special election, on April 30, could bring a new Democrat to the House. Voters in New York’s 26th District are set to pick a replacement for former Rep. Brian Higgins, who stepped down last month.

Buck has not endorsed a candidate to fill his seat in the 4th District, which runs top to bottom along the eastern side of the state. The deadline for candidates to file to run in Colorado’s June 25 primary is March 19. As of Tuesday, GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert, who currently represents the 3rd District across the western and southern parts of the state, has had her petition to be on the ballot in the 4th District deemed sufficient, and Republican radio host Deborah Flora’s petition for the ballot there had been submitted, according to the Colorado secretary of state’s website. But there’s still time for other candidates seeking to succeed Buck to jump into the race.

A special election for a candidate to serve out the remainder of Buck’s term could fall just weeks before that June 25 primary. That tight timeline means whoever wins to temporarily replace Buck could find themselves very quickly running as an incumbent if they seek a full term.

Buck signaled Tuesday that he’s leaving Congress but not the political arena. He said voters are not happy with either President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump, the projected GOP nominee, for commander in chief.

“I think we need to change our electoral laws here. … I’m going to find the right organization to join, and I’m going to start working on that issue. We have to have better candidates up and down the ballot — not just president, but Senate, House, local offices. We’ve got to find better ways to elect candidates and bring America together,” Buck told CNN.

The Coloradan has sharply criticized GOP members for “lying to America” about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by rioters who held fast to the false claim that Trump was the victor.

“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 in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell last year. “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.”

His departure isn’t expected to create a shake-up in the House party ratios. Trump carried the solidly conservative district with 57 percent of the vote in 2020, and Buck easily snagged a fifth term in 2022 with 61 percent.

Buck will leave vacant seats on the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary committees.

As ranking member of the House Judiciary’s Administrative State, Regulatory Reform, and Antitrust Subcommittee last Congress, Buck helped spearhead competition bills aimed at Big Tech alongside then-Chairman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a progressive Democrat.

A member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus, Buck voted against impeaching Trump. But he also doesn’t back his party’s efforts to impeach Biden, and more recently he voted against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Herb Jackson and Jim Saksa contributed to this report.

Recent Stories

Piecemeal supplemental spending plan emerges in House

White House issues worker protections for pregnancy termination

Senate leaders seek quick action on key surveillance authority

Officials search for offshore wind radar interference fix

McCarthy gavel investigation ends without a bang

Rep. Tom Cole seeks to limit earmark-driven political headaches