Rep. Buck's early resignation disrupts Rep. Boebert's plan to run for his seat, catches Speaker Johnson and House GOP leaders by surprise

 March 15, 2024

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who represents Colorado's competitive 3rd District, made plans to run this year in the state's solidly Republican 4th District represented by Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) after Buck announced last year that he would not seek re-election and was widely presumed to serve out the remainder of his current term before retiring.

Boebert's plan was just upended, or at least made substantially more difficult and risky, by Buck's abrupt decision to resign early, which triggered a special election to fill his seat that the congresswoman can't run in and win without also resigning her current seat, according to Fox News.

In addition to upsetting Boebert's plans and potentially ending her congressional career, Buck's surprise revelation this week appears to have caught House Republican leadership, including Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), entirely off guard and unaware.

Buck bows out earlier than expected, triggers special election to fill vacancy

Rep. Buck, who first announced in November that he would not seek re-election, revealed in a Tuesday announcement that he now planned to "depart Congress at the end of next week" rather than serve out the remainder of his term.

That same day, Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued a statement that praised the outgoing Republican congressman for his "years of public service," wished him well in his unspecified "next chapter," and set a date of June 25 -- the same date as the state's primary elections -- for a special election to fill the 4th District's impending vacancy.

"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 25th," the governor explained.

Boebert furious at stymied plans, reveals she won't run in special election

Needless to say, that development frustrated and infuriated Rep. Boebert, who asserted in a fiery X post on Wednesday, "Ken Buck’s announcement yesterday was a gift to the uniparty. The establishment concocted a swampy backroom deal to try to rig an election I’m winning by 25 points."

"Forcing an unnecessary Special Election on the same day as the Primary Election will confuse voters, result in a lameduck Congressman on day one, and leave the 4th District with no representation for more than three months. The 4th District deserves better," she continued.

"I will not further imperil the already very slim House Republican majority by resigning my current seat and will continue to deliver on my constituents’ priorities while also working hard to earn the votes of the people of Colorado’s 4th District who have made clear they are hungry for a real conservative," Boebert added. "I am the only Trump-endorsed, America First candidate in this race and will win the 4th District’s Primary Election on June 25th and General Election on November 5th."

Boebert's point about 4th District voters being confused by the dual election on June 25 is valid, as is her annoyance over the scheduling of the special election, given that she'd have to vacate her current seat -- which would possibly be picked up by a Democrat in a subsequent special election -- if she were to run and win.

House GOP leadership caught by surprise by Buck's early resignation

Newsweek reported that Speaker Johnson and other House Republican leaders were "blindsided" by Rep. Buck's unexpected early resignation -- which reduces the already slim majority to 218-213, meaning the GOP can only lose two votes and still pass legislation -- though a spokesman for Buck insisted that the outgoing congressman left Johnson a voicemail and spoke with House GOP Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) shortly before he made the announcement.

Newsmax reported that Johnson told reporters, "I was surprised by Ken's announcement. I'm looking forward to talking to him about that. I didn't know."

According to Axios, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) was also caught by surprise by Buck's abrupt resignation, and similarly told reporters, "I haven't gotten to talk to him. He wasn't on the floor but I'm curious to see why he's leaving early."

The outlet further quoted several other House Republicans who largely lamented the further diminishment of their slim majority, but also included a cryptic comment from Buck that suggested more early resignations could be forthcoming, as when asked if he was "facing heat" over his decision from GOP colleagues, Buck replied, "I think it's the next three people that leave that they're going to be worried about."

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