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How some Republicans came to view Ken Buck as the ‘Liz Cheney of Colorado’

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Lindsey Toomer

(Colorado Newsline) U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican and member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, is facing criticism and potentially a primary challenge since he hasn’t shown support for impeaching President Joe Biden. 

A group of far-right House Republicans opened an impeachment inquiry alleging Biden while he was vice president profited from his son’s international business scheme, but Buck is among a faction of Republicans who say they haven’t seen any substantial evidence. 

The representative for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, which covers the eastern part of the state and has a strong Republican lean, penned a column in the Washington Post in which he urged the GOP to prioritize avoiding a government shutdown as opposed to the Biden impeachment inquiry. He cited a lack of evidence that the president was ever involved in his son’s business dealings.

“Republicans in the House who are itching for an impeachment are relying on an imagined history,” Buck wrote. 

Colorado state Rep. Richard Holtorf, an Akron Republican, said Buck’s lack of support for an impeachment inquiry doesn’t sit well with voters in the 4th District.

“An inquiry is just an inquiry — they’re just looking into things, getting a little additional subpoena power maybe,” Holtorf said. 

Buck’s team did not respond to a Newsline request for comment.

Despite being a member of the Freedom Caucus, other far-right Republicans such as U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene have questioned whether Buck’s constituents will continue to support him. Holtorf told Colorado Public Radio he is considering challenging Buck in a primary. He’s working on building an exploratory committee to determine whether a run is something he will actually pursue. 

State Rep. Richard Holtorf, a Republican from Akron, attends the GOP state assembly in Colorado Springs on April 9, 2022. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)


“Ken Buck’s trying to be the Liz Cheney of Colorado and not supporting the past president, President Trump, when the Democrats were coming for him like a pack of wild hyenas with the January 6. protests and riots,” Holtorf told Newsline. “Ken Buck was on the wrong side of history on that one.”

Cheney, a former Republican representative from Wyoming, served on the House committee investigating Jan. 6 and continuously pushed back against Trump’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. She lost her seat in her most recent bid for reelection as a result of her stance on the election and Trump.

Buck has always supported Cheney, and defended her when the Republican Party ousted her from leadership for voicing her opinions on Trump.

Called out January 6 misinformation

Tom Peterson, chairman of the Elbert County GOP, said he thinks there are Republicans in his 4th District county who are looking forward to speaking with Buck’s office to get a better understanding of his reasoning on recent decisions he’s made. 

He said the Elbert County GOP has helped direct constituents who have questions for Buck to the right channels. There’s “clearly some increased interest” in connecting with the congressman in his county, he said. 

“Ken Buck has done an excellent job over the years of representing CD4,” Peterson said. “Obviously he’s not going to please everyone all the time, but when he does take positions that are different … people want to know why, right now, they’re wondering why.” 

Buck was 1 of 5 Republicans who initially voted against a recent House defense spending bill, but he switched his vote to support the measure later in the week. 

At the start of September, Buck asked fellow Republicans in Colorado to stop spreading “misinformation” about the treatment of people who were arrested for participating in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. This was in response to a letter written by El Paso County Republican Vice Chair Todd Watkins claiming that Jan. 6 defendants have been “grossly mistreated and abused by our legal system.” Watkins claimed these defendants have been detained without bond for misdemeanor offenses, have been denied medical care, have been physically abused, and have been denied contact with their attorneys, among other assertions that the defendants’ constitutional rights have been violated.

Republicans have also come for Buck following news that he considered leaving Congress to take a job as a commentator at CNN. He previously considered other jobs, including a role with a Washington D.C. law firm or seeking a Biden nomination to the Federal Trade Commission. 

Final straw

Buck so far faces two Democrats, Ike McCorkle and John Padora, in the 2024 race, but, unlike the Democrats, the two Republicans officially running at this point, Justin Schreiber and Karen Breslin, haven’t reported raising any money. Buck was first elected to the U.S. House in 2014 and is now in his fifth term.

Holtorf said seeing Buck appear on CNN, viewed as a liberal outlet, left him disappointed as a constituent, and he said this was the final straw that pushed him to start his exploratory committee on running for Buck’s seat.

“That leaves constituents of CD 4 and Colorado Republicans with a very bad taste in their mouth,” Holtorf said. “He’s obviously having a mid-life political crisis, and if he’s looking for his next job maybe he ought to finish this job before he goes.”

In an appearance on CNN, Buck said he isn’t worried about a potential primary challenge. 

“They brought a primary two years ago, I won 75-25,” Buck said. “I am comfortable that the people in my district know that I’m a conservative and know that I want to make sure we don’t ruin this institution over a tit-for-tat impeachment.”

Holtorf said if Buck wants to win back the support of his constituents, he needs to return to Colorado and have more conversations with those in his district to hear what they want from him, because they are who he works for.

Holtorf thinks voters would support him because he would “represent the people and not try to line his pockets.” 

“I’m not going to shun from the people in the district,” Holtorf said. “You call me, I answer the phone. You want me in the district, I’m there. I know who I work for, and it’s the people.”

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.