November 6, 2023
Representative Ken Buck—a conservative Colorado Republican who played a central role in ousting Kevin McCarthy from the House speakership—said he will not seek re-election next year, citing his party’s election denialism and many members’ refusal to condemn the January 6. 2021, assault on the Capitol, reports The New York Times.
Buck, who currently is serving his fifth term, said he had decided to step aside because his differences with the contemporary Republican Party had grown too great to continue serving in its ranks. He condemned his party’s reluctance to take on big issues and said it had badly damaged itself with voters.
“We lost our way,” said Buck, 64, who announced his intentions in interviews and a video news release. “We have an identity crisis in the Republican Party. If we can’t address the election denier issue and we continue down that path, we won’t have credibility with the American people that we are going to solve problems.”
His announcement followed one earlier on Wednesday, November 1, by Representative Kay Granger (R-Texas), chair of the Appropriations Committee, who said she also would not run again next year. She too played a prominent role in the speaker showdown.
Granger, 80, surprised her colleagues by refusing to back Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the party’s nominee for speaker, on the floor. That prompted some calls for her to lose her gavel on the Appropriations Committee. She voted instead for Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican who had won the first internal G.O.P. contest for the nomination to succeed McCarthy, but withdrew when he determined he did not have the votes on the floor. She is bumping up against party term limits for her time as chair, and is part of an all-female team leading the House and Senate spending panels for the first time in Congress’s history.
“Although I am not running for re-election, I plan to serve out the remainder of my term and work with our new speaker and my colleagues to advance our conservative agenda and finish the job I was elected to do,” she said in a statement.
Buck’s decision comes after several months in which his frustration and dissatisfaction with his party have been evident. He is the third House member to declare this week that he will not seek re-election next year after Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), a House member since 1996, said on Monday, October 30, that he would not run again.
Buck—one of eight Republicans who voted with Democrats to oust McCarthy—is also the second GOP member of Congress to break publicly with his party in announcing he would not run again, and to denounce the cultural dominance of the hard right and its continuing allegiance to former President Donald J. Trump.
Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced in September that he would not seek a second term, saying the “Trump wing of the party talks about resentments of various kinds and getting even and settling scores and revisiting the 2020 election.”
What’s more, during the thick of the speaker fight, Representative Debbie Lesko (R-Arizona) announced that she would leave Congress after her current term, declaring that, “Right now, Washington is broken.”
Buck said he intended to finish his term, but would begin exploring other opportunities. He has substantially raised his media profile as a Republican willing to challenge current party orthodoxy and said he thought there were better ways to participate outside the House.
“I have a passion for staying in this fight,” he said. “Whether it’s a tech issue, or foreign policy issue, or other issues, I think that our traditional conservative values have a place in this marketplace of ideas and need to be promoted.”
Research contact: @nytimes