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Republican committee tasked with selecting Buck’s likely replacement, adding challenge to Boebert’s campaign

DENVER (AP) — A panel of Colorado Republicans will select a candidate Thursday who will likely serve out the final months of U.S. Rep. Ken Buck’s term — and could pose a challenge to the U.S. representative. Lauren Boebert‘s candidacy for another term in Congress.

It’s an unusual and confusing twist in a closely watched primary race for a district that far-right Republican Boebert has not previously represented. Whoever the committee chooses is expected to win the special election against the Democratic nominee, complete Buck’s term and strengthen the slim Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

But this decision could have more significant consequences. The committee is expected to choose one of the current Republican primary candidates vying for the same seat. Boebert chose to finish his current term in his old district, and the committee will likely select one of his rivals.

Whoever is chosen will run in two separate races for the same seat until the June election, giving them greater notoriety, greater media coverage and expanded fundraising opportunities – a boon for most candidates who are far from having the national brand and campaign chest of Boebert. .

“Ken Buck really put a damper on this,” said Seth Masket, director of the Center on American Politics in Denver, who noted that Buck’s intentions were unclear. “It was already a pretty topsy-turvy race, but I think this makes it a little more difficult for her.”

Boebert said in a recent statement that the move constituted interference: “The establishment concocted a swampy backroom deal to try to rig the election. »

The congresswoman built a reputation as a far-right with a fierce political style, in step with accusations of electoral fraud, and remains a well-known, if controversial, figure among the country’s conservatives.

While Boebert made headlines with scandals, including a tape of her groping and vaping with a date at a Denver theater, she also gained support from former President Donald Trump and the current Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson.

Those votes of confidence will likely go far for Boebert in the new district, where voters overwhelmingly supported Trump in 2020 and where his opponents are lesser-known local Republicans.

Although it would be difficult for other candidates to match Boebert’s national conservative influence, the special election shake-up could give one of them an opportunity to catch up.

“Either way, they will be much more well known in June,” said Conor Dowling, a political science professor at the University at Buffalo.

Boebert nearly lost his former Republican-leaning district to a Democratic candidate in 2022.

The narrow margin raised questions about whether his Trumpian style still had influence among Republican voters. After the Democrat who almost beat her largely outperformed her for an expected rematch in 2024, the congresswoman changed districts.

The move sparked grumbles about political maneuvering, with some of Boebert’s main local opponents accusing him of “all-in.”

She defended the decision by saying that her voice was still needed in Congress and that her exodus from the old district would make it easier for Republicans to retain their seat, and therefore their majority in the House of Representatives.

The district-hopping option was opened to Boebert after Buck announced he would not run for re-election last year, citing his party’s handling of Trump.

Then, earlier this month, Buck abruptly resigned, highlighting the “bickering and nonsense” that he said now permeates the U.S. Capitol. Buck left Congress on March 22.

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Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-reported issues.

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