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September 20, 2023 11:07 am MST

Ken Buck Retirement Rumors Heat Up

  • by: Colorado Pols
Whether he’s Buckpedaling forward or backward, Ken Buck wants out of Congress.

As we’ve been predicting for months on the Get More Smarter Podcast (both HERE and HERE), Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is on his way out of Congress. According to a new report from The New York Post, Buck is waiting only for the right exit strategy:

The White House’s go-to Republican critic of the impeachment inquiry into President Biden is considering leaving Congress for a new job — and expressed interest in being an on-air commentator for CNN, The Post has learned.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), a five-term fiscal hawk, has surprised fellow conservatives by repeatedly criticizing the probe launched last week into Biden’s alleged corruption, including with a Sept. 15 Washington Post op-ed that other Republicans said included glaring inaccuracies.

Buck said privately last month that he was interested in a job at CNN, a source told The Post, after he weighed other options over the past year — including joining a DC-based law firm or seeking Biden’s nomination to the Federal Trade Commission.

Buck, 64, confirmed to The Post he’s exploring his options and said it would be “great” to join CNN.

Buck’s interest in a TV gig has been obvious in recent months; as we noted on Tuesday, Buck spent most of the August recess yammering about budgets and impeachment to every network (and even pretend networks, such as Newsmax) that would give him air time. Buck has been all over the place on the subject of impeaching President Biden, which is as much about his own indecisiveness as it is about being available to take whatever position a TV news show might desire.

After telling the Post that he was very interested in working for CNN, Buck even took the time to call back and add more details:

The congressman called back later in the day to say that he had also expressed interest in a position at right-leaning Fox News or Newsmax.

“I didn’t want to give you the impression that I’ve only talked to folks at CNN, on the left. I’ve also talked to others about this,” Buck said. [Pols emphasis]

Buck represents a vast rural district that spans the entire eastern border of the Rocky Mountain State and said Tuesday that it was unclear if he will leave office “this Congress, next Congress or whatever — but [I have] just really explored the possibility of … putting together some different things before I leave.”

This guy would really like a job on TV.

The NY Post also reports that Buck talked to a couple of Senators earlier this year about potentially earning a nomination from the White House to serve on the board of the Federal Trade Commission. It appears that if anyone has a job that involves “not being in Congress,” then Buck is more than interested in applying.

Buck has long been rumored to be looking for an exit strategy from Congress. We reported on retirement rumors in May 2019, and quickly received a reply from Buck’s communications director that he “has no official plans to retire anytime soon nor in the foreseeable future.” Those rumors continued, however, until Buck made it official in October 2019 that he would indeed seek re-election, but it didn’t make him any more interested in doing the work; Buck was regularly absent in December 2019 for House Judiciary Committee hearings into the first impeachment of former President Trump.

Buck was easily re-elected in 2020, but it was obvious at that point that he was quickly losing interest in Congress. Buck sorta flirted with the idea of running for U.S. Senate in 2021, though he was never believed to be serious about another statewide run (Buck lost a 2010 Senate race to Democrat Michael Bennet). Beyond the logistical challenges of a statewide race, Buck’s positions on various issues have become significantly more malleable in recent years; to the extent that he even bothers to pay attention anymore, Buck often wanders off in strange directions (such as his insistence last summer that George Soros funded Antifa, or something).

The likely Republican field of candidates once Buck makes his retirement official.

Buck was re-elected for a fifth term in 2022 after surviving a surprise Primary challenge from Bob Lewis, who nearly received enough support at the Republican Congressional Assembly to keep Buck off of the Primary Ballot altogether. This weakening of support in the fourth congressional district surely rattled Buck, though we hear the last straw took place after Republicans captured control of the House of Representatives and Buck was passed over (despite his seniority) for the Chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee.

After we noted on Tuesday that State Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-Akron) was looking at a 2024 Primary challenge, Colorado Public Radio reported on more details about Holtorf’s seemingly-inevitable Congressional bid — including his claim to have formed an “exploratory committee.” There is no such thing as an “exploratory committee” in federal campaign filings — you’re either a candidate or you’re not — and it’s rare that a candidate pretends to be “looking” at a campaign but ends up NOT running.

We’d guess that Holtorf has heard the same rumors and isn’t waiting for Buck to make a decision on his future. Once Buck does make it official, every Republican with a pulse will consider their own campaign; CO-04 is a safe Republican district, and a GOP Primary winner could probably hold this seat for at least the next decade.

Buck could always change his mind and run for re-election in 2024, but his hemming and hawing on issues such as Biden’s impeachment have given Republican challengers more than enough reason to go after him anyway. What was looking like a rather sleepy 2024 election cycle in Colorado is about to get a lot more interesting.


19 thoughts on “Ken Buck Retirement Rumors Heat Up

  1. Can't say I'd be sorry to see him go.  On the other hand, I suspect CO CD-4 is going to produce an even nuttier representative.  Too red to go blue, but perhaps a rational GOP member can somehow get the nomination.  Not holding my breath as that's not the type of blue I'm looking for. 

    1. That could happen if:  there is a large enough gaggle of nut jobs competing in the primary and there is one traditional conservative (e.g., Wayne Allard type) who has just enough support to outrun the most popular of the nut jobs in the race.

      Wasn't that sort of Barbara Kirkmeyer's strategy? Let Lori Saine and the others split the screwball vote and get the plurality of non-crazies to turn out.

  2. Jerry Sonnenburg is a Logan County Commissioner now but he’ll be a contender. I’d be OK with Jerry, particularly given the (R) alternatives to him will be bat-shit crazy. Is our watermelon farmer, after a career in fighting everything green initiatives and now sucking on the teat of wind power consulting on the eastern plains, tanned, rested and ready?

    1. Maybe Marilyn Musgrave could be enticed to come out of the Motel 6 in Fort Morgan where she's been holed up and give us another run around the track.

      1. Nah. Too busy dynasty building with her daughter Amy who is running for Johnstown School Board. It would be a disaster for NoCo politics to let mini-Musgrave win.

  3. Waiting until the very end of your political career to stand up (sort of) for what is right, and then offering your services to reality or even non reality-based broadcasters. Meh. 

  4. I hope nobody could ever replace the current occupant of the 3rd District seat when it comes to sheer embarrassment, but putting state Rep. Holtorf in Congress would provide plenty of fun zingers and gaffes for our entertainment outside of CD4 (sorry Michael)!

    1. So, if Adam Fisch wins and if Holtorf replaces Buck, there is more of a lateral change in the screwball quotient in Colorado House delegation?

      1. I would say an overall improvement.  One establishment Right winger replaced by a MAGAt.  The other would be a MAGAt replaced by a relatively conservative Dem.

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