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Retiring Colorado Rep. Ken Buck to resign from Congress

Colorado Congressman Ken Buck
Chase Woodruff

(Colorado Newsline) U.S. Rep. Ken Buck announced Tuesday that he will resign from office next week, bringing an early end to his fifth and final term in Congress and upending the wide-open race to replace him.

“It has been an honor to serve the people of Colorado’s 4th District in Congress for the past 9 years,” Buck, a Republican from Windsor, said in a short statement about his departure posted on X.

Buck announced last November that he would not seek another term in 2024, citing his party’s “lying” about the results of the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. A long list of candidates has flooded the Republican primary in the race to replace him in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, where the GOP holds a strong advantage.

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The contenders include U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, the controversial far-right Republican who announced in December that she planned to move across the state and seek to represent the 4th District rather than run for reelection in the 3rd District, where she faced a formidable and well-funded Democratic opponent. Other candidates in the 4th District primary include former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Logan County and state Rep. Richard Holtorf of Akron.

With Buck’s resignation, the GOP’s slim majority in the U.S. House of Representatives will shrink to 218-213.

Buck’s departure means that a special election to fill the vacancy will be held later this year on a date set by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis but no “less than eighty-five days or more than one hundred days after the vacancy occurs,” according to Colorado’s election code.

Polis confirmed Tuesday afternoon that he intends to call a special election to coincide with Colorado’s June 25 primary.

“To ensure that Colorado has the representation we deserve in Congress, and to minimize taxpayer cost, I plan to take swift action to set the date of the special election to fill the vacancy created by Ken Buck’s resignation to align with Colorado’s primary on June 25,” the governor said in a statement.

The 4th District includes most of Douglas County and the Eastern Plains.

State election law gives political parties broad powers to nominate a party-affiliated candidate for a congressional vacancy election through a convention or committee process, meaning that only one Republican and one Democrat will appear on the special election ballot. Unaffiliated candidates may qualify for the special election through petition signatures.

Observers noted on Tuesday that the timing and format of the special election could pose serious difficulties for Boebert, who didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Sonnenberg — a 16-year statehouse veteran endorsed by many Colorado GOP insiders — wrote in an X post that he “look(s) forward to earning this nomination and getting to D.C. as soon as possible.”

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network 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.