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September 27, 2023 07:00 AM MDT

Get Ready for a BANANAS Republican Primary in CO-04

  • by: Colorado Pols

If you think Santa Claus has a big list to deal with every year, just wait until you see the potential lineup of Republican candidates considering a bid for Congress in CO-04.

Incumbent Republican Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) appears to be leaning toward retirement from Congress rather than running for a sixth term in 2024. Buck is hoping that his ability to take multiple positions on every issue makes him attractive as a talking head for CNN or Newsmax or local cable access television…frankly, Buck seems to be open to pretty much anything that doesn’t involve working at the U.S Capitol anymore. We dug into the details last week about why Buck is looking for an exit, and why he might get a serious Republican Primary challenge next Spring even if he does decide to run for another term.

Doug Lamborn needed only about 15,000 votes to win a lifetime seat in Congress in 2006.

If CO-04 is an open seat in 2024, the Republican Primary Election in June could be the most crowded field we’ve seen in Colorado in nearly 20 years. In order to understand why, you need look no further than Colorado Springs.

In February 2006, then-Rep. Joel Hefley announced that he would not be seeking re-election in Colorado’s fifth congressional district — a staunch Republican district centered around Colorado Springs where he was first elected in 1986. The lure of a potential lifetime seat in Congress attracted significant interest from local Republicans, with six seasoned candidates ultimately making the Primary ballot.

Then-State Sen. Doug Lamborn held off Jeff Crank to capture the Republican nomination in CO-05, then dispatched Democrat Jay Fawcett by 19 points in the General Election. Despite being a generally useless pud who makes headlines mostly for silly scandals, Lamborn has used the power of incumbency to dispatch numerous GOP challengers en route to easy re-election victories ever since.

According to data from Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Committee, CO-04 is the most Republican-ie congressional district in Colorado.

With one exception (Democrat Betsy Markey in 2008-10), Republicans have had the same stranglehold on CO-04 for decades. In 2022, Buck defeated Democrat Ike McCorkle by 24 points, a larger margin of victory than Lamborn’s 16-point win over Democrat David Torres. In fact, CO-04 might be the “safest” congressional seat for Republicans in the entire state.

No Democrat has come within even 20 points of Buck since he was first elected in 2014. In the 2020 Presidential race, Donald Trump carried CO-04 by 30 points compared to 24 points in CO-05.

You can see why CO-04 is so attractive for Republicans in Colorado. Democrats have had statewide races locked down since 2018, and only one congressional district (CO-08) is even potentially winnable for the GOP. If you are a Republican in Colorado looking to move up the political ladder, CO-04 could be your best shot in the next 10 years.


Who’s Up Next?

State Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-Akron) has already announced that he has formed an “exploratory committee” to consider a run in CO-04. There is no such designated committee type as far as the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) is concerned; whenever a candidate says this, it generally means that they are very likely to be an official candidate. Holtorf is probably going to run here even if Buck decides to seek re-election.

Heidi Ganahl has the “bananas” part down already.

Here’s where it gets fun. From what we hear, at least four Republicans have already reached out to have a conversation with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) about a potential candidacy in CO-04:

Heidi Ganahl, the 2022 Republican nominee for Governor and unofficial holder of the title of “Worst Candidate/Campaign in Modern Colorado History“;

George Brauchler, the former district attorney turned radio host who somehow managed to fail at TWO different races in the 2018 election cycle (Governor and Attorney General);

Deborah Flora, the conservative radio host who couldn’t even get her name on the ballot in the 2022 U.S. Senate race;

Lora Thomas, the unpopular Douglas County Commissioner who handily lost a bid for Douglas County Sheriff in 2022.

These are just the names of candidates who have already spoken to the NRCC. From what we hear, the NRCC’s preferred candidate — at this point, anyway — is former State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

Another name that keeps popping up is former Republican Party Chairperson Kristi Burton Brown (her successor, Dave Williams, mentioned KBB’s name as a possible candidate during an interview with conservative radio host Dan Caplis just this morning).

There are plenty of other Republicans who will at least kick the tires on a 2024 run, including:

Greg “The Watermelon Hunter” Brophy, a former state lawmaker who was Buck’s first Chief of Staff in Congress;

Pat Neville, the former House Minority Leader who has been making googly eyes at CO-04 for years;

Joe Neville, the former top consultant for the House GOP under his brother, Pat;

♦ Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams, whose name always seems to pop up for something;

♦ State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, who lost a Congressional race to Democrat Yadira Caraveo in 2022;

Steve Wells, the enigmatic weirdo who used his riches in a half-assed effort to oust Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in 2022.

The list of potential Republican candidates who might run in CO-04 — particularly if it is an open seat — is damn near limitless.

We would expect this list to start to narrow in the coming months now that several Republicans are making real moves toward campaigning in 2024, but it’s easy to see how there might be a half-dozen names or more barreling toward the Republican Primary ballot. As Lamborn proved in 2006, this is a scenario in which you could essentially win a lifetime seat in Congress with less than 20,000 votes.

May the best (worst) candidate win!


7 thoughts on “Get Ready for a BANANAS Republican Primary in CO-04

      1. I want to hope Sonnenberg would appeal more to the district, but Douglas County has the largest population among counties in the 4th by far, and I think Hiedi lives there while Brauchler was a DA for the district including DougCo. Never thought I'd say this but I'd prefer Sonnenberg.

  1. Kirkmeyer is too liberal for that district.

    Heidi would be a hoot especially if Adam Frisch forces Bimbobert into early retirement. Heidi can be the clown of the CO delegation.

    BTW, will the eventual GOP nominee need to be vetted by the Libertarians under the non-aggression pact Dave “Hold My Beer” Williams so skillfully negotiated?

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