Trent Leisy is looking to take down a RINO — but this one serves as a Colorado Congressman and goes by the name of Ken Buck.
“RINO” (Republican in Name Only) is a derogatory term used by the far-right to describe centrist GOP candidates and lawmakers who are viewed as insufficiently conservative. As evidenced by the contentious selection of a new House speaker, hard-liner Trump supporters often use the term to bully GOP members further to the right, threatening them with primary challenges that could push them out of office.
Buck is one such candidate who some on the far-right have in their sights. Amidst Republican discontent over his lack of support for impeaching President Biden and his criticisms of former President Trump, several GOP candidates have discussed challenging Buck for his Colorado Congressional District 4 seat, which is located in northern Colorado and is firmly red.
Leisy, a councilman for Weld County and former member of the Weld School Board, describes himself on his website. as “a small business owner, a Navy Veteran, and a die-hard supporter of President Trump.” After his time in the Navy, Leisy worked in the agricultural industry for 13 years before starting a company that specializes in corn seed production.
In 2020, he started the social media company FyreFox Media LLC, which “focuses on promoting the American First agenda.” FyreFox Media LLC directs viewers to sexytrump.com, which sells shirts with Donald Trump’s face on them and the words “sexiest man alive.” He can be seen wearing one of the shirts — as well as a “MAGA King” hat — in a campaign ad.
Leisy is the first Republican to officially declare his candidacy against Buck for the 2024 primary election.
On his website, Leisy lists his main campaign issues as parental rights, border security, ending child trafficking, agriculture, gun rights, and lowering taxes.
After declaring his candidacy on Monday, Leisy appeared on several local conservative podcasts to promote himself. On the Chuck And Julie Show, Leisy blasted Buck for not representing his constituents.
“We have a congressman right now and in the House who really is out of touch with the American people and those here in congressional district four,” said Leisy. “The credibility of [Buck] is shot. It’s out the window.”
When asked by host Julie Hayden about the recent votes for speaker of the House, Leisy said that he would have voted for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), whom Buck rejected.
“So get out,” Leisy said, addressing Buck. “Go ride your horse into the pasture on CNN and leave the folks [in district 4]. Elect me so I can represent these people the way that they want to be represented in Washington.”
Leisy is an election denier and has spoken on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, as well as on the radio about the 2020 election being stolen from former President Trump. “[Trump] is the rightful president,” said Leisy on Chuck and Julie show. “And he’ll be there again in 2024 when he takes office in January.”
A new website called RINO Watch Colorado has come out in support of Leisy’s campaign while adding Ken Buck to its “RINO Wall of Shame.” An email from RINO Watch Colorado lists the address of 19-year-old Weston Imer, who was named to the Republican National Committee’s youth council this year and serves as a project manager for the Colorado GOP. It also says the email template and services were provided by Imer’s firm, Prodigy Consulting. Following publication, Imer reached out to the Colorado Times Recorder to say that while he “completely agrees with [RINO Watch Colorado] is doing,” he is not behind the entity. Rather it’s a client of firm that hired him to do the email blast and paid him for the use of his address.
Leisy has branded himself as a “grassroots” candidate who is looking to shake up the establishment.
“This is going to be …the most incredible grassroots movement that we’ve seen,” said Leisy. “People all the way from Campo, Colorado, to Julesburg have reached out to me and said, ‘You know, I’ve never seen Ken Buck. He’s never been in my county. I don’t even know what he looks like.’”
“I’m going to be somebody that’s going to be out there. …I will be in every county visiting with the people.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated incorrectly that Weston Imer created RINO Watch Colorado, when in fact the group, whose founders remain anonymous, hired Imer’s consulting firm to design send emails on its behalf and use his own address for the group.