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March 13, 2024 11:54 AM UTC

Boebert Rages While Dust Settles On Buck's Momentous Exit

  • 10 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

Now that (some) of the smoke has cleared from Rep. Ken Buck’s surprise announcement on Tuesday that he would be resigning from Congress effective March 22, it’s time to take another look at why this happened, what it means for Colorado Republicans, and what comes next.  

The Quiet Part (Not) Out Loud

Nobody is saying this explicitly, but Buck’s resignation was very much an attempt to help out Republicans not named Lauren Boebert who are running to succeed him in CO-04. 

Buck announced in late October 2023 that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election – a decision that wasn’t a huge surprise to some (including us at Colorado Pols). His public statements on deciding to resign now are all about how much he dislikes being in Congress, where nothing gets accomplished because right-wing Republicans are focused on fighting each other and House Speaker “MAGA” Mike Johnson couldn’t organize a garage sale. That part is definitely true – Buck has been looking for a way off this ship since shortly after he was re-elected in 2022 and learned that he would be passed over for the Chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee – but it’s not the reason Buck is resigning now.

The timing of Buck’s resignation is about making a last-ditch play to keep Boebert from remaining in Congress by giving someone else – almost certainly former State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg – a big boost in the next three months. 

As we wrote on Tuesday, Republicans in Colorado and nationally have grown tired of Boebert’s nonsense and the terrible press she generates on a weekly basis. Rational Republicans understand the peril associated with the fact that Colorado voters see Boebert as the face of the Republican Party (confirmed, again, by the latest Rocky Mountaineer poll). Republicans have all sorts of problems in Colorado; repeated beatings at the ballot box by Democrats have left the GOP with no statewide office holder and a micro-minority in the state legislature. Getting rid of Boebert isn’t going to turn things around for Republicans in Colorado, but it would be a nice start to not have to answer questions every time Boebert does something stupid. 

Buck’s resignation sets up a Special Election to fill the remainder of his term. According to Colorado statute, a small committee of Republicans will select the GOP nominee for this Special Election. That committee was not going to choose Boebert, if nothing else because doing so would create a separate vacancy in CO-03 (Boebert’s current district) that might well be won by Democrat Adam Frisch. Since Boebert didn’t want to challenge for an appointment that she couldn’t win, she made the logical decision to refuse to seek the vacancy altogether. Here’s what Boebert said about all of this in a statement today:

Ken Buck’s announcement yesterday was a gift to the Uniparty. The establishment concocted a swampy backroom deal to try to rig an election I’m winning by 25 points. Forcing an unnecessary Special Election on the same day as the Primary Election will confuse voters, result in a lame duck Congressman on day one, and leave the 4th District with no representation for more than three months. The 4th District deserves better.

I will not further imperil the already very slim House Republican majority by resigning my current seat and will continue to deliver on my constituents’ priorities while also working hard to earn the votes of the people of Colorado’s 4th District who have made clear they are hungry for a real conservative. I am the only Trump-endorsed, America First candidate in this race and will win the 4th District’s Primary Election on June 25th and General Election on November 5th. 

Before we move on, it’s worth pointing out the hilarity of Boebert complaining that Buck’s resignation will “leave the 4th District with no representation for more than three months.” This is pretty much what Boebert did to her own constituents in CO-03 when she announced in late December that she would move 400 miles to the east to run in CO-04 instead of seeking re-election in the third district. Boebert is no doubt aware of this blatant hypocrisy, but in the modern GOP, hypocrisy is more of a feature than a bug. 

What Happens Now?

Governor Jared Polis set the Special Election for June 25 – the same day as the scheduled Primary Election in Colorado. This makes sense, because it saves the state money by not requiring county clerks and the Colorado Secretary of State to conduct two separate elections within a matter of weeks, but it is going to be confusing for a lot of voters. [That’s not the fault of Gov. Polis, who is following the guidelines outlined in state statutes]

If you are a registered Republican voter in CO-04, you will have two questions in this race on June 25:

  1. A) Selecting a candidate between the Republican vacancy committee nominee and the Democratic vacancy committee nominee for the right to serve the remainder of Buck’s term (through early January 2025);
  2. B) Selecting between Republican candidates for the right to be the GOP nominee in the General Election in November 2024. The winner of that contest would become the next elected Representative (assuming a General Election victory) and would assume office in early January 2025.

The winner of both A and B could be the same person, and that’s what establishment (and non-Boebert) Republicans are hoping will happen.

Who Else Wants to be Special?

Boebert is out of the running for the Special Election, but several CO-04 candidates have said they will seek the support of the vacancy committee. Along with Sonnenberg, former State Sen. Ted Harvey and former radio host Deborah Flora say they will seek the vacancy nomination. State Rep. Mike Lynch told The Colorado Sun that he hadn’t yet decided on whether to seek the vacancy; it may not matter, since his hopes of winning election in CO-04 are sinking faster than he was driving when a state trooper caught up to him and gave him a DUI in September 2022. State Rep. Richard Holtorf also hasn’t indicated what he’ll do, but he’s in the same situation as Lynch. 

Any Republican could put their name forward for the vacancy committee, but it sure seems like this cake is already baked. It would be a surprise if anybody but Sonnenberg won this round. Because of the overwhelming Republican voter registration advantage in CO-04, whoever wins the GOP nomination is a lock to also win the Special Election. 

A Lifeline for Jerry

The big winner here is obviously Sonnenberg, who has long been thought to be the favorite of national Republicans in part because of his strong connections with many former elected officials. Sonnenberg has been endorsed by former Republican Senators Wayne Allard, Hank Brown, and Cory Gardner – all of whom also previously served in the House as representatives of the fourth district. Buck’s resignation seems to have been organized in part by these establishment forces in order to give Sonnenberg a better chance of dislodging Boebert. 

[Side note: It’s funny how history repeats itself. Back in 2014, Buck and Gardner got together at a Cracker Barrel to work out which one of them was going to run for the U.S. Senate and which one would get the booby prize in CO-04. Gardner ended up winning that discussion and the Senate race in November 2014, while Buck had no trouble defeating a handful of Republican challengers for the right to succeed Gardner in CO-04]

Sonnenberg is a strong candidate on paper as a rancher and longtime Eastern Plains resident who can point to decades of elected leadership. But while Sonnenberg has a strong list of endorsements, he trails Boebert in two important categories: Money and name ID. Running in a Special Election should help Sonnenberg close the gap on both fronts.

On the money front, Gardner can now parade Sonnenberg around to lobbyists in Washington DC and encourage them to write checks to a guy who will at the very least be serving in Congress for the last six months of 2024. And because of the oddity of the Special Election, Sonnenberg will get a significant boost in name ID through media coverage of the race. 

Sonnenberg (or whoever wins the GOP nomination to run in the Special Election) should also get a boost when ballots go out in June. If you’re going to vote for the Republican – let’s just say Sonnenberg – in the Special Election, why not just mark the same name on the Primary Election ballot?

That’s the outcome that makes sense, but never underestimate the ability of Republican primary voters to upend the best-laid plans of the so-called “establishment.” The alternative is another two years of Boebert and even more distrust within the Colorado Republican Party.

Comments

10 thoughts on “Boebert Rages While Dust Settles On Buck’s Momentous Exit

  1. Shame that Democrats in CO-4 aren’t able to vote in the Republican primary for Sonnenberg (although they could if they’re unaffiliated or re-register that way).

    Here’s the thing though: Jerry Sonnenberg just kind of seems like a somewhat better version of Don Coram and with Trump in her corner, QBert is going to end up winning. These creatures always do.

      1. Sorry, I didn't mean "better" on policy – I meant somewhat more likely to actually pose a threat to her, although they're both going to come up short in the end to that lunatic.

    1. That's true, Dave. It is even easier if you are willing to be a perpetual candidate. Our local expert on that subject (and co-author of the book 😆) was former state senator Steve King. Triple dipping appeared to be his specialty.

    2. “keep the campaign cash, and spend it on herself. Illegal, but when was

      the last time anyone was convicted of doing that?”

        Well, her BFF George Santos’s ship is pretty well sunk, for just such creative accounting, among other things. Yet to go to trial, but smart
      money says he does time.

      1. Santos violated both the Prime Directive in politics ("Don't get caught") and its First Corrollary ("Pigs get fat while hogs get slaughtered").

        I doubt that she is smart enough to avoid being so greedy that she gets slaughtered.

        BTW, didn't one of her predecessors in CD-3 once have his wife on the payroll as "an employee"?

         

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