Rep. Ken Buck, a conservative Republican from Colorado who played a central role in ousting Kevin McCarthy from the presidency, said he would not seek re-election next year, citing his party’s election denialism and the refusal of many members to condemn the January 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol.
Mr. Buck, who is serving his fifth term in a sprawling district east of Denver after a career as a prosecutor, said he decided to step down because his differences with the contemporary Republican Party had become too great to continue. to serve in its ranks. He condemned his party’s reluctance to tackle big issues and said it had seriously compromised itself with voters.
“We lost our way,” said Mr. Buck, 64, who announced his intentions in interviews and in a video news release. “We have an identity crisis in the Republican Party. If we fail to resolve the problem of voter denialism and continue on this path, we will not have the credibility of the American people in our ability to solve the problems.
Her announcement was followed Wednesday by Rep. Kay Granger, Republican of Texas and chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, who said she would not run again next year either. She also played a leading role in the confrontation between the speakers. Others will likely follow suit given the chaos that has engulfed the Republican-led House.
Mr. Buck’s decision comes after several months during which his frustration and discontent with his party was evident. He is the third House member to declare this week that he will not run again next year after Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat and a House member since 1996, said Monday that he would not would not show up.
At the heart of the speakers’ struggle, Rep. Debbie Lesko, Republican of Arizona, announced she would leave Congress after her current term, saying, “Right now, Washington is broken.”
Ms. Granger, 80, surprised her colleagues by refusing to support Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the party’s nominee for president, in the field. That prompted some calls for him to lose his gavel on the Appropriations Committee. She voted instead for Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican who had won the GOP’s first internal contest for the nomination to succeed Mr. McCarthy, but withdrew when he determined that he didn’t have the votes available. She faces party term limits for her term as president and is part of a an all-female team leading the House and Senate spending panels for the first time in Congressional history.
“Even if I do not run for reelection, I intend to serve out the remainder of my term and work with our new president and my colleagues to advance our conservative agenda and finish the work I have been here to do. elected,” she said in a statement. statement.
Mr. Buck, one of eight Republicans who voted with Democrats to oust Mr. McCarthy, is also the second Republican member of Congress to publicly break with his party by announcing that he would not run again, and to denounce the cultural dominance of the far right and its continued allegiance to former President Donald J. Trump. Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, announced in September that he would not run for a second termclaiming that “the Trump wing of the party talks about resentment of all kinds, equality, reckoning and revisiting the 2020 election.”
Mr. Buck, a former federal and state prosecutor, was the victim of some verbal gaffes and lost the Senate race in 2010 to Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat. He briefly considered running for Senate again in 2014, but instead won the House seat in rural, more conservative eastern Colorado and has remained there ever since.
A fiscal hawk who criticizes both parties for refusing to consider Social Security and Medicare as factors in the federal deficit, Mr. Buck has repeatedly said that Mr. McCarthy has failed to keep his promises to focus on reducing spending and establishing new oversight of federal agencies. and their budgets.
In addition to opposing Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Buck also rejected Mr. Jordan’s candidacy for president, saying that Mr. Jordan’s refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election and his support for the activities of the January 6 were disqualifying.
“We promise to fix the problems, but we cannot acknowledge what happened on January 6,” Mr. Buck said. “These January 6 defendants are not political prisoners. They hit police officers. They broke windows. » Mr. Buck displays a sign saying “Back the Blue” outside his office and considers himself a strong supporter of law enforcement.
He ultimately supported Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana as speaker despite Mr Johnson’s own efforts to overturn the election results through a legal challenge that ultimately failed, but he said Mr Johnson had followed the correct legal route through the courts.
Mr. Buck also questioned why Republicans are pursuing impeachment charges against President Biden and faced backlash for his multiple breaks with the party, including death threats. He would likely face a major challenge if it arose, but he said he was confident in his ability to prevail.
He also criticized Republicans on foreign policy and said the party had moved away from the ideological foundations of Ronald Reagan, with many of his Republican colleagues failing to recognize the need to support Ukraine in its war against Russia.
“If America is not strong, the world will be in chaos,” he said. “It’s not just in our interest to be there. The world depends on a big brother who makes sure people don’t fight. »
Mr. Buck said he intended to complete his term but would begin exploring other opportunities. He significantly raised his media profile as a Republican willing to challenge the party’s current orthodoxy and said he believed there were better ways to participate outside the House.
“I have the passion to stay in this fight,” he said. “Whether it’s a technology issue, foreign policy or other issues, I think our traditional conservative values have a place in this marketplace of ideas and need to be promoted.”