The Republican caucus must choose Buck’s likely replacement, adding a challenge to Bobert’s campaign
The Republican caucus must choose Buck’s likely replacement, adding a challenge to Bobert’s campaign

DENVER (AP) — A panel of Colorado Republicans will pick a candidate Thursday who is likely to run recent months from U.S Representative Ken Buck and could pose a challenge to Rep. Lauren Bobert’s bid for another term in Congress.

It’s an unusual and confusing twist in the closely watched primary race for far-right Republican Boebert’s district has not represented before. Whoever the committee chooses is expected to prevail in a special election against the Democratic nominee, ending Buck’s term and strengthening the slim Republican majority in the US House of Representatives.

But the decision could have more far-reaching implications. The committee is expected to select one of the current Republican primary candidates running for the same seat. Boebert chose to finish out her current term in her old district, and the commission is likely to select one of her challengers.

Whoever is elected will run in two separate races for the same seat until the June election, giving them greater exposure, media coverage and expanded fundraising opportunities — a boon for most of the candidates who are away from Boebert’s national brand and campaign funds.

“Ken Buck really threw a wrench into the whole thing,” said Seth Muskett, director of the Center for American Policy in Denver, who noted that it was unclear what Buck’s intentions were. “It was already a pretty topsy-turvy race, but I think that makes it a little more difficult for her.”

Boebert said in a recent statement that the move was meddling: “The establishment concocted a backroom deal to try to rig an election.”

The congresswoman has built a far-right name for herself with a fierce political style that has kept pace with allegations of election manipulation, and remains a known, if divisive, quantity among conservatives across the country.

While Boebert made headlines with scandals, including her tape palpation and vaporization with date at a Denver theater, she also received endorsements from former President Donald Trump and current House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Those votes of confidence are likely to go a long way for Bobert in the new district, where voters overwhelmingly backed Trump in 2020 and where her opponents are lesser-known, local Republicans.

While it will be difficult for other candidates to match Boebert’s nationally conservative clout, the special reshuffle of the election could give one of them a chance to catch up.

“Whoever it is, they’re going to be much more prominent in June,” said Connor Dowling, a professor of political science at the University at Buffalo.

Boebert nearly lost his old Republican-leaning district to a Democratic candidate in 2022.

The slim margin raised questions about whether her Trumpian style still resonated with GOP voters. After the Democrat who nearly defeated her far ahead of her for the expected rematch in 2024, the congresswoman switched districts.

The move prompted grumblings about political maneuvering, with some of Bobert’s local primary opponents accusing her of “carpet-sweeping.”

She defended the move, saying her vote was still needed in Congress and that her exodus from the old district made it easier for Republicans to keep the seat, and therefore their majority, in the US House of Representatives.

The district option opened up for Bobert after Buck announced he would not seek re-election last year, citing his party’s handling of Trump.

Then, earlier this month, Buck abruptly resigned, citing “the bickering and nonsense” that he says is now permeating the U.S. Capitol. Buck left Congress on March 22.


Bedine is a corps member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. America Report is a national nonprofit program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues.

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