Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) scorched his colleagues on Wednesday as he announced he would bow out of Congress after his current term, telling The New York Times that the contemporary Republican Party has “lost our way.”
Buck, 64, has represented Colorado’s Fourth District since 2015 and was one of eight Republicans who voted to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as Speaker of the House last month, touching off a nasty civil war that dragged on for weeks. His decision to not seek re-election comes after months of publicly sharing his displeasure with his party—namely that his colleagues are still denying the results of the 2020 election well into 2023.
“We have an identity crisis in the Republican Party,” he told the Times. “If we can’t address the election denier issue and we continue down that path, we won’t have credibility with the American people that we are going to solve problems.”
Buck also cited his party’s reluctance to take on big issues as a reason for him to go, saying the difference in priorities between him and his colleagues was too great for him to continue serving in the Republican ranks. His announcement came just after Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), who serves as House Appropriations chairwoman, also said she wouldn’t seek re-election after 26 years in Congress.
Earlier today I announced that I won't be seeking re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
To my friends in Colorado, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve our nation. Being your representative in Washington DC has been the highest honor of my life. pic.twitter.com/FQdPVbpH46
— Rep. Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) November 1, 2023
Adding to that break in priorities may have been House Republicans’ lengthy speakership fight that lasted more than two weeks before they settled on Mike Johnson (R-LA)—a far-right, election-denying, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, pro-gun, ultra-religious Republican (who, bizarrely, does not have a bank account, according to years of personal financial disclosures reviewed by The Daily Beast this week.)
Buck, a former federal and state prosecutor, initially went after McCarthy for not following through on promises to prioritize cutting federal spending. But he later opposed his replacement, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), telling the Times that Jordan’s refusal to accept the 2020 election results and his support of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot should disqualify him from the speakership.
“We promise to solve problems, but we can’t acknowledge what happened on Jan. 6,” Buck told the Times. “These Jan. 6 defendants are not political prisoners. They hit police officers. They broke windows.”
Buck faced heavy criticism for questioning the grounds of his party’s impeachment crusade against Joe Biden, among other recent breaks from the party line that reportedly led him to receive death threats.
He isn’t the only Republican to share his dissatisfaction with the state of the party. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) announced in October that she also won’t seek re-election, saying, “Washington is broken.” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) made a similar announcement in September, torching both Trump and Biden in the process.
Though he’s stepping away from Congress, Buck said he’s not ready to retire outright. He told the Times he believed he could make a larger impact outside the Capitol.
“I have a passion for staying in this fight,” he said. “Whether it’s a tech issue or foreign policy issue or other issues, I think that our traditional conservative values have a place in this marketplace of ideas and need to be promoted.”