Following Saturday’s chaotic and combative GOP state assembly in Colorado Springs, Congressman Ken Buck (R-Colorado) said the GOP delegates who choose far-right extremist candidates “are not making rational decisions,” but rather are angry about “American weakness.”
On Tuesday in an interview with KOA radio’s Colorado’s Morning News, Buck said he favors the caucus and assembly process for selecting candidates for the GOP primary, as opposed to candidates who qualify by way of petitioning signatures of support from Colorado voters.
Buck said he believes that the assembly process is more “respectful” of party activists, insiders, and operatives who organize the statewide meetings where delegates are elected and ultimately decide which candidates will vie to be the party’s nominee in November’s general election.
But at Saturday’s state assembly, those same Republican “activist” delegates largely supported candidates with extreme positions and platforms, many of whom are running on false claims of stolen elections in Colorado and nationally, such as statewide candidates Greg Lopez for governor, Ron Hanks for U.S. Senate, and Tina Peters for secretary of state.
Some of these candidates also have criminal records or, in the case of Peters are facing multiple felony charges.
When asked by 850 KOA radio hosts for his thoughts on delegates’ strong support for Peters, Hanks, Lopez, and other controversial candidates, Buck said that Colorado Republican voters — and by extension, the party’s elected delegates — “are not making rational decisions about who is the best candidate that could win in a general election.”
“Yeah, I think it is clearly a reflection of how voters are mad,” Buck told hosts April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz. “They are mad that the withdrawal from Afghanistan was botched and it showed the world American weakness, which we don’t believe — as Republicans — exists. They’re mad about high gas prices. They’re mad about high food prices. They’re mad about crime rising in the cities. They’re mad about losing good paying jobs — energy jobs — here in Colorado. They’re mad about illegal immigrants surging across the border. People are mad. They’re not sitting around making rational decisions about who is the the best candidate that could win in a general election. They’re looking for people who are going to fight for them, and they chose what they consider to be the best fighters.”
Despite Colorado voters’ strong preference for President Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election in which Biden prevailed with an advantage of 13 percentage points, Buck said that Republican activists believe that “rational Americans wouldn’t throw out President Trump,” and so are getting behind Trump-like candidates that they view as “strong leaders.”
Buck added that he predicts Republican candidates — “candidates who are mad and demonstrate that anger” — will win the November elections by “a landslide.” “We’re looking at a tsunami,” he said.
Republican pundits and political observers have predicted disastrous results for the state GOP in November’s general election if these extremist candidates successfully sew up the nominations in their respective races. The implication is those extremist candidates, while popular with a relatively small and narrow base of hard-right conservatives, won’t earn votes from the more moderate, unaffiliated voters that comprise Colorado’s largest political demographic.
Colorado Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown, in an interview with Matt Mauro of Fox 31, agreed that the prospects for Republican victories in November’s general election depend on the candidates’ perceived electability among voters.
Burton Brown told Mauro, “Well, you know Matt, I think electability is exactly the question. And that’s what Republicans across Colorado will get to decide in the Primary in June. We need to chose a Republican who is going to send Michael Bennet packing…Republican voters will choose that [person] in June, and we’ll go on to defeat Michael Bennet.
At the Fourth Congressional District assembly on Friday, Buck lost top billing on June’s GOP primary ballot to challenger and relatively unknown candidate Bob Lewis, who received more delgates’ votes than Buck.
Reached for comment, Congressman Buck said that the circumstances in last Friday’s Fourth District assembly were different than those driving outcomes at the state assembly on Saturday.
“What happened at the Fourth,” Buck said when reached for comment for this story, “was there was a requirement for all candidates that want to run to submit the name of the person who would nominate them.” Buck provided that information while Lewis did not, leading some to assume that the race would be uncontested.
For various reasons, only about 300 of more than 500 delegates attended that assembly, explained Buck. Bob Lewis was nominated from the floor of the assembly, and had his delegate support lined up, leading to his eventual victory after delegate votes were tallied.
Listen to the entire interview with U.S. Rep. Buck on Colorado’s Morning News (KOA, 850 a.m.) using the media player below: