U.S. Rep. Ken Buck said Thursday that he won't seek a second term as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, paving the way for several potential candidates to begin campaigning for the party position.
"I'm proud to be a Colorado Republican and feel that I can best continue to fight for our state and conservative values in other capacities," Buck said in an email sent to Colorado Republicans.
"I am pleased with the work the state party has done over the last two years to create a strong base that will benefit our Party for years to come. We have reinvested in data, fundraising, communications, our volunteers, and have worked to show the people of Colorado that our Party is one that knows how much Results Matter."
Buck was elected in November to a fourth term representing the heavily Republican 4th Congressional District, anchored by Weld and Douglas counties and covering the Eastern Plains.
The same night, Democrats notched wins across Colorado, with Joe Biden trouncing President Donald Trump in the state and former Gov. John Hickenlooper unseating U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. Democrats also padded their majority in the state Senate by a seat and maintained their 41-25 majority in the state House of Representatives.
Buck's announcement comes two days after the state GOP released a statement acknowledging that Biden is the president-elect — a controversial admission for some Republicans, as Trump continues to claim the election was stolen from him.
Added Buck: "While I'm disappointed in the outcome of this election, I respect the constitutional process. I have respected the president's right to exhaust all legal options, and I continue to do so."
Buck and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs signed on last week to a court filing that sought to throw out the electoral votes of four states won by Biden, but the Supreme Court dismissed the effort on Friday.
Republicans lag Democrats in Colorado by just over 100,000 registered voters, but members of both major parties are outnumbered by unaffiliated voters, according to the most recent registration statistics compiled by the Colorado Secretary of State's Office.
As of Dec. 1, unaffiliated voters account for 40.8% of the state's 3.7 million active, registered voters, followed by the Democrats at an even 30% and Republicans 27.3%. Members of minor political parties make up just under 2%.
Both major parties elect state leadership to two-year terms in late March or early April, following county-level reorganizations that take place in February. The GOP hasn't yet set a date for the state central committee meeting to elect party officers, a spokesman told Colorado Politics.
Republicans who have indicated they're interested in running for the state chairmanship include former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, current state GOP vice chairman Kristi Burton Brown, former state vice chairman and past congressional nominee Don Ytterberg, El Paso County Republican chairman Vicki Tonkins and political consultant Jefferson Thomas, who ran the 2020 Trump campaign in Colorado.
Buck will be the third consecutive state GOP chairman to serve only a single term.
Buck won the post on March 30, 2019, in a close election over then-state Rep. Susan Beckman of Littleton, who later resigned her seat to take a job in the Trump administration.
His predecessors leading the state party were former El Paso County chairman Jeff Hayes, who held the position from 2017 to 2019, and former Adams County chairman Steve House, who ran the party from 2015 to 2017 and lost a bid to represent the 6th Congressional District last month.
In the email announcing his decision, Buck cast an eye toward the future.
"I want to thank you all for allowing me the privilege of serving as chairman of the Colorado GOP," he said. "I look forward to continuing to be a part of a unified Republican Party here in Colorado as we fight to retake our state and deliver meaningful results for the hard-working folks across the Centennial State."