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U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert blasts Ken Buck’s resignation, says she will skip special election to focus on primary race

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert will not seek the Republican nomination for the special election to replace resigning Congressman Ken Buck, she said Wednesday — putting her focus on winning the GOP primary instead.

Boebert, who now represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, announced at the end of the year that she would run to replace the retiring Buck, a fellow Republican, in the more conservative 4th Congressional District. He had planned to finish out his term but said Tuesday that he now intends to step down next week, on March 22, a move that triggered a June 25 special election to fill his seat for the rest of this year.

It’s set for the same day as the state’s congressional primaries, throwing further uncertainty into what was already a crowded race for the rare open congressional seat. Several candidates were still weighing their options.

“The establishment concocted a swampy backroom deal to try to rig an election I’m winning by 25 points,” Boebert said in a statement, citing a late February poll by Kaplan Strategies in which she led the primary field with 32% support among 558 likely voters.

“Forcing an unnecessary Special Election on the same day as the Primary Election will confuse voters, result in a lame duck Congressman on Day One, and leave the 4th District with no representation for more than three months. The 4th District deserves better.”

Democratic and Republican committees will each nominate a candidate for the special election, while larger fields will compete at the same time for voters’ support to advance to the November election, which will determine who occupies the seat next year. It’s possible voters could elect one person in the special election while nominating another in the GOP primary for the next term.

If Boebert took the special election route and won, she’d have to step down from her current seat and leave it vacant for months. She said she wouldn’t want to imperil the slim Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives by leaving the Western Slope-based seat open.

The 4th District covers the Eastern Plains and includes nearly all of Douglas County in metro Denver, and it is Colorado’s most heavily Republican-leaning congressional district.

So far, Logan County Commissioner Jerry Sonnenberg, a former state lawmaker, and former state Sen. Ted Harvey are the only Republicans to confirm they will seek the seat in the special election. State Reps. Richard Holtorf and Mike Lynch said they were still considering their best path forward, with Lynch writing in a text message Wednesday that he was hesitant to create a vacancy in the state House of Representatives.

Harvey, of Highlands Ranch, noted that the special election is “another bizarre issue in this very bizarre campaign.”

He’s planning to win the special election nomination in the vacancy committee and then seize on the higher profile that will bring at the April 5 assembly to win a GOP primary ballot spot.

On the Democratic side, Ike McCorkle said he planned to pursue the seat through the special election and win the Democratic nomination for November through the primary. McCorkle sought the seat in 2020 and 2022 against Buck and is the leading fundraiser among Democrats.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats have set dates for their vacancy committee meetings. April 1 is the latest they can pick their party’s nominee.

Unaffiliated candidates will be able to petition onto the special election ballot. The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is working with the Attorney General’s Office on how minor party candidates may qualify for the ballot.

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