The leader of the Adams County Republican Party Independent Expenditure Committee says U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) isn’t really liked in Adams County.

He also believes Gardner feared a primary challenge from Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO4) so much that Gardner “stroked his ego,” convincing Buck to run for state party chair in order to take him “off the playing field.”

Ben Nicholas, who also serves as District Captain for the Adams Republicans in House District 35, shared his beliefs with the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club on Sept. 9.

I believe that Cory Gardner played Ken Buck. I believe that he, somehow, stroked Ken’s ego, to a point saying “you’re the only person that can save the state party. And in doing so, when Ken agreed to run as the chairman, it took him off the playing field as a possible primary contender for his position. Ken Buck’s the only one who had the name recognition, really to challenge Cory Gardner. And Cory Gardner is not really liked in Adams County.

Ben Nicholas, Adams County Republican Party District Captain & Founder, Adams GOP IEC

Nicholas’ statements came during a question and answer section following his speech, “Fundraising for Freedom.” In his lecture he explained the reasoning behind Adams County GOP’s decision to follow the lead of former state chair Ryan Call, who created an independent expenditure committee for the Colorado Republicans in order to raise money above the relatively low state limits. Call shared the impact of the GOP IEC with committee members at the same March 30 meeting at which they elected Buck chair.

Colorado GOP IEC chair Ryan Call: $3.66M spent by the group during the 2018 election

The committee and the party are still involved in a lawsuit over misuse of campaign funds. Campaign Integrity Watchdog’s Matt Arnold is appealing the Secretary of State’s dismissal of his complaint that the IEC violated state law concerning its use of the state party’s bulk mailing permit.

The Adams GOP IEC is the first county party independent expenditure committee in Colorado.

He also described Congressman Buck as “kind of an absentee landlord” when it came to his role as chair of the Colorado Republican Party. Nicholas said he turned Buck down when the congressman called him asking for support of his chairmanship campaign.

Gardner praised Buck enthusiastically while seconding Buck’s nomination for chair at the GOP Central Committee meeting:

Because Ken Buck’s a fighter. We need him. I need him. This country needs him. And I’m proud to second the nomination of Ken Buck to be our party chair.

Sen. Cory Gardner at Colorado GOP Central Committee meeting, March 30, 2019

It’s not the first time Nicholas has expressed displeasure with Gardner. In February he told 710 KNUS radio host Julie Hayden that the senator had surprised Adams County Republicans by appearing at a recent meeting “after six years of avoiding us like the plague.”

Neither Gardner nor Buck immediately returned calls requesting comment. This post will be updated with any statement from either of them.