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He’s just Ken: Ex-Rep. Buck talks Boebert and his Freedom Caucus firing

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Ken Buck faced fire from two unlikely corners as he left Congress last week — ejected from the Trump-aligned House Freedom Caucus and taking blows from Rep. Lauren Boebert, who is running to replace him.

But the Colorado Republican isn’t retaliating. In an interview with POLITICO Friday, the last day he was a congressman, Buck continued to insist he was leaving due to the House’s dysfunctional and toxic environment, describing it as the worst he’s seen over the course of his five terms in office.

That hasn’t stopped Boebert from publicly speculating that he had another motivation for an early exit: She has indicated on the online video platform Rumble that he wanted to screw up her chances of winning his seat in November. The timing of his retirement undeniably complicates her bid — Boebert would have to give up her seat to run in a special election, which she opted not to do, meaning she’ll have to face a newly-elected incumbent in November.

Buck denies his decision concerned Boebert, and has largely declined to wade into the topic publicly. He indicated he’s staying out of the race entirely, noting he still doesn’t “anticipate endorsing anybody.”

“I feel really strongly that we have a lot of good candidates … and I’m not going to interfere in that process,” Buck said in an interview in his office, now missing the gun and photos with presidents that once decorated his walls.

Still, his ongoing cold war with Boebert might have played a role in his ejection from the Freedom Caucus — a group he’s been a part of since its founding. While the pro-Trump group voted to remove Buck last week under the guise of his attendance records, some Republicans familiar with the move argued it was also related to his recent votes and protecting the Freedom Caucus brand.

And there was some heartburn among some Boebert allies about comments he made about her back in the district. Asked what he said about her, Buck pointed to a local Rotary Club meeting where he got a question about Boebert’s public comments that he was helping the “uniparty,” a term conservatives use to disparage Republicans who work with Democrats.

The now-former GOP lawmaker is no stranger to fallout over speaking his mind. He has clashed with different factions of his own party several times, including over his anti-impeachment positions and his vote to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Still, members of the Freedom Caucus stuck by him, which makes their final rebuke all the more surprising — and perhaps reinforces Buck’s opinion that the House has grown increasingly toxic.

While Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a Freedom Caucus board member, argued that Buck’s ouster was related to his attendance, he also noted that the Colorado Republican had “gone rogue.”

Some in the MAGA-aligned group privately expressed concern about Buck getting a TV contract by leaning on his previous membership in the Freedom Caucus while sharing views that don’t align with the group. Buck denied having any sort of TV deal, or any job lined up upon his departure, and only said he is having “conversations.”

“No TV contract, no radio contracts, no contract with any corporation or any other entity. I don’t have a contract. I do have a number of conversations on that, but none of them involve a contract with TV – which is a rumor.” he said.

But he added that he “certainly will be speaking my mind about all kinds of issues when I get outside.”

And while his vote won’t matter from here on out, Buck said he does not support Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) recent motion to boot Speaker Mike Johnson. He doesn’t have any regrets about his vote to terminate McCarthy’s leadership, however.

Buck only had praise for Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.), though the Coloradan indicated that Good could’ve handled his removal differently. Though the group doesn’t typically comment on its membership, Buck was not the only one who alleges he was removed for attendance issues.

“I don’t know what happened, what the dynamics were … I’m assuming that there was quiet preparation before the meeting to do something like this,” Buck said. “If Bob had wanted to, he certainly could have said: ‘Let’s hear from Ken.’ And, obviously, I would’ve been around and so it wouldn’t have passed. But it was brought up and it passed.”