Congressman Ken Buck is a Republican in Eastern Colorado's extremely conservative Fourth Congressional District (CD4). Buck received 66% of the vote in 2014. Why would anyone run against him?
On Wednesday, August 27, I announced my intention to challenge Ken Buck (R-CO) in the 2016 election. In this multi-part series, I will explain why.
Part One: Is Ken Buck Independent - or just Ineffective?
Politics is about working together to reach goals that ultimately benefit your constituents. Voters suffer when their representatives cannot accomplish this basic task of governance.
Ken Buck's website touts his "Independent Voice". In one example of that independence, Buck proudly broke ranks with the Republican leadership of the House and voted "No" on a bill that would have granted the President fast track authority in negotiating a Pacific rim trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Republican leadership in the House and the Senate, as well as most Republican members of Congress, felt that the bill would provide greater markets for American goods, lower overseas labor costs for American companies, and other benefits. Most Democrats opposed the bill, as did labor unions and environmental groups.
So why did Buck go against Republican leadership and ultimately vote with Democrats and against the wishes of the Republican party and the American Chamber of Commerce? In an emailed fundraising letter, Buck said it was because "Obama could use his overreaching trade authority to advance: A radical climate change agenda; Amnesty for illegal aliens; Unpopular gun control laws; Payoffs for big labor".
Amnesty? Gun control? What do those issues have to do with the TPP?
The Denver Post, which endorsed Buck in the 2014 election, called his rationale "mind-boggling" and said that Buck's concerns were "both imaginary and unrelated to the actual goals of the Trans-Pacific Partnership." (See Denver Post, June 23, 2015, "Ken Buck offers worst arguments yet against TPP")
The Post went on to remind readers that "Colorado exports more than $1 billion in agricultural products, and more than $300 million in beef and veal alone -- much of which comes from Buck's 4th Congressional District. If anyone should be supporting free trade, it is the freshman congressman."
But supporting the farmers, ranchers, and communities of rural Colorado is not important to Ken Buck, at least not as important as his personal feelings towards the President and his need to show his independence and to embarrass the Republican leadership.
Congressman Buck has demonstrated that not only can he not work with Democrats, he can't even work with Republicans. The House Republican Leadership responded to Buck's "No" vote on what was ultimately a narrowly passed piece of legislation by threatening to remove him from his position as President of the Freshman Class. Ultimately, Buck kept his largely ceremonial post. But politicians have long memories, and actions have consequences. Colorado benefits when our representatives are placed on important congressional committees. Buck's behavior on the TPP and on other votes has put such appointments and his constituents at risk. His extremism could have serious political and economic repercussions for Eastern Colorado.
This is only one example of Buck's use of hyperbolic rhetoric to score political points. His ability to work with other members of Congress seems to erode with each exaggerated claim. He is proud of his 100% for Conservative votes from the Heritage Foundation. By comparison, the average Republican score was 68%. Buck is an extremist among extremists.
We need rational representation. Votes should not be based on threats that are "imaginary and unrelated". A Representative's vote should reflect what is in the best interest of his or her constituents.
Ken Buck, with his tendency to choose battles that are imaginary and unrelated to the discussion at hand, is not independent. He is delusional. And ultimately ineffective.
Bob Seay is running for Congress against Ken Buck. His website is at BobSeayForColorado.org.