Republican Rep. Ken Buck is exiting Congress early, further eroding GOP majority

Republican Rep. Ken Buck is exiting Congress early, further eroding GOP majority

WASHINGTON — Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., who frequently defied his own party and announced last fall he would not seek reelection, said Tuesday he will resign from Congress at the end of next week, further shrinking the GOP’s already razor-thin majority.

“Today I am announcing that I will depart Congress at the end of next week,” Buck said in a statement. “I look forward to staying involved in our political process, as well as spending more time in Colorado and with my family.”

His departure will cut the House Republican margin to 218-213; Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., will continue to have two votes to spare before needing Democrats to govern. But illnesses and other unexpected absences could make his already difficult job even more challenging.

Buck said later that he was tired of the way the House functions now. “We’ve taken impeachment and we’ve made it a social media issue as opposed to a constitutional concept. This place keeps going downhill and I don’t need to spend more time here,” he said.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the news broke, Johnson suggested he did not get a heads-up from Buck.

“I was surprised by Ken’s announcement. I’m looking forward to talking with him about that,” the speaker said.

But Buck said he did, in fact, inform Johnson, leaving a message for the speaker and discussing his departure with other members of leadership. “Frankly, I’m not leaving for a week so they have a week to prepare,” he said.

Other GOP colleagues said they were taken aback by Buck’s decision. “Very surprising, very disturbing, very alarming, very concerning,” said Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas.

Buck is a member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, but he made a name for himself in Washington for frequently breaking with his party on major issues.

He criticized his fellow Republicans for echoing former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. He has expressed doubts that Republicans have found any evidence that President Joe Biden has committed an impeachable offense. And he faced multiple death threats from conservatives after refusing to back a key Trump ally, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, for speaker in October.

Most recently, Buck broke with his party and was one of three Republicans who voted against the impeachment of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

Buck referenced those votes when asked why he was making the GOP majority’s job harder by decreasing its membership. “I’m actually helping them in some ways because I’m not gonna vote against more impeachments,” he said.

Buck’s resignation will trigger a special election in Colorado. State law requires the seat to be filled through a special election, which needs to be called between 85 and 100 days after the vacancy occurs.

If Buck resigns on March 22, 85 days out would be June 15, so it’s possible that Democratic Gov. Jared Polis could schedule the election on the same day as Colorado’s congressional primary on June 25.

The state party committees nominate their special election candidates during a state convention, instead of holding a primary.

Multiple Republicans, including Rep. Lauren Boebert, have already announced bids for Buck’s seat in 2024.

First elected to the House in 2014, Buck got his start in politics in the mid-1980s working for then-Rep. Dick Cheney, R-Wyo., on the committee investigating the Iran-Contra affair. Soon after, he was hired as a prosecutor in the Justice Department which is now the target of vicious attacks from Trump and his party.

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