U.S. Rep. Ken Buck is considering a run for Colorado Republican Party chair in the party's upcoming reorganization, but doesn't intend to step down from his congressional seat, GOP sources have told Colorado Politics.
The three-term congressman and former Weld County district attorney, a member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, has been discussing a potential bid for the party post in recent days but has yet to commit to a run, three Republicans familiar with Buck's deliberations confirm.
The Windsor Republican didn't respond to a request for comment.
Current state Republican chair Jeff Hays announced last week that he won't seek a second two-year term, leaving the race for the position open and encouraging plenty of buzz about potential candidates.
State Rep. Susan Beckman, R-Littleton, a former county commissioner, threw her hat in the ring Monday. She told Colorado Politics she plans to resign from the General Assembly after the session ends in May if she wins.
But Buck, who represents the heavily Republican 4th Congressional District, envisions continuing to serve in Congress if he is elected state GOP chair at the end of March, according to Republicans who have discussed the possibility with Buck.
That would return the state chair position to the less hands-on role overseeing party operations that was common until about 10 years ago.
Recently, Democratic and Republican state chairs have treated the post as a full-time job, and many have drawn impressive salaries, but before the middle of the last decade Colorado's state chairs operated more like the chair of a board of directors than the party's CEO.
The GOP's state central committee — made up of elected officials, county party officers and bonus members, apportioned according to vote totals for the Republican gubernatorial nominee in the last election — is scheduled to convene on March 30 to select a new chair.
This year, if counties fill all their apportioned slots at February reorganization meetings, the committee will include 419 members, down from the roughly 500 members that currently make up the organization.
No other candidates have launched campaigns for Republican chair, though current state GOP vice chair Sherrie Gibson is considering a run.
Former Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn, who lost a bid for state treasurer last year, and outgoing El Paso County Republican Party chair Josh Hosler were considering state party chair runs until recently but have decided against it, Colorado Politics learned.
Whoever wins the chair race will be the fourth Republican to hold the position in as many terms.
Buck, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Rules, is the author of “Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think,” and regularly criticizes the way capital denizens do business.
Buck has run twice for the U.S. Senate, losing in 2010 to Democrat Michael Bennet and withdrawing in order to run for the congressional seat left open after then-U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner jumped in the 2014 Senate race. Republicans say Buck is considering a rematch against Bennet in 2022.
Two years ago, Buck publicly flirted with a run for Colorado attorney general but eventually decided to seek another term representing the 4th CD, which is anchored by Weld County and most of Douglas County and includes the state's eastern plains. He won over Democrat Karen McCormick with 60 percent of the vote.
Following a blowout election in November that saw Democrats sweep statewide races, oust an incumbent congressman and retake control of the state Senate, political observers say the Colorado GOP is at a crossroads that could determine its fate for years to come.