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Head of Colorado GOP Ken Buck on recalls, Nazi question, and his future

How much money will the state Republican Party throw at recall elections? Congressman Ken Buck, who just became the Colorado GOP's new chairman, hyped the crowd at last week's state convention with the word "recall," and today, he sat with 9NEWS political reporter Marshall Zelinger.

DENVER — Why is a Congressman doubling up his duties by taking on the position of heading up the Colorado Republican Party?

"What I bring to this party chairmanship is an ability to reach out to contacts that I've developed in Colorado over 20 years. Those contacts are for fundraising purposes, for outreach, for other things that have to get the party going," said Rep. Ken Buck, who represents Colorado's Fourth Congressional District covering northeastern Colorado and Douglas County.

He was narrowly elected as party chair over State Rep. Susan Beckman (R-Littleton) at the state convention last week, and today, he sat with 9NEWS political reporter Marshall Zelinger.


At the convention, Buck pushed the word "recall."

"I don't think that recall elections are appropriate just to second guess the voters' decision in November 2018. I do think they're appropriate when you see an elected official acting inconsistently with how he or she has run just a few months ago," said Buck.

State Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley) is facing a recall. The effort to recall her needs to collect 5,700 signatures by June 3 just to hold a special election to ask voters if she should be kicked out. When asked how she was being inconsistent with how she campaigned compared to how she has voted at the State Capitol, Buck focused on voter intent.

"She campaigned to represent the voters in her district and those voters are not being represented by Senate Bill 181," said Buck. "The message that I think the Democrat Party should have received is that voters were placing trust in the Democrat Party to move at a moderate pace, instead the Democrats have attacked the energy industry and have done other things with the popular vote, with gun legislation, that have offended a lot of people, unaffiliated voters and Republicans, who voted for them."

He said he will be careful with Republican Party money in which recall efforts to support. Will he throw money behind any effort to try to recall Democratic Gov. Jared Polis?

"I'm not there yet. I think when you're talking about a governor, there is a higher standard than a state legislator, but I will certainly take a look at it when it's presented to us," said Buck.


Two years ago, Buck wrote a book entitled "Drain the Swamp." The U.S. Senate is currently considering President Trump's Interior Secretary nominee, David Bernhardt, from Colorado. Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that Bernhardt's former employer, Denver-based law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, has quadrupled its lobbying business related to the interior since Bernhardt joined. We asked if that's draining the swamp.

"It doesn't sound good. I have no idea what's involved with that. It certainly doesn't sound good," said Buck. "I don't know right now whether that is something that he has any impact over. He may have impact if he is confirmed by the Senate. It's certainly one of those things, where before your confirmation hearing, you don't want that issue raised."


During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Equality Act earlier this week, a mother was testifying about her child not receiving care from a Christian doctor because of the mother's sexual orientation. In response to her testimony, Buck asked her if an Orthodox Jewish doctor whose grandparents were killed in the Holocaust should be required to work with a Nazi patient. Someone who identifies as a Nazi is not a protected class under law. We wanted to know what point he was trying to make.

"My point was, and it's similar to the (Masterpiece Cakeshop) baker case in Jefferson County. We're getting to the point where we're forcing people to conduct business that they may not want to conduct. We have to be very careful, it's not a line we haven't crossed in the past, we've certainly crossed that line with African-Americans in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, and it was very appropriate not to have segregated lunch counters, not to have segregated buses, but we keep finding more and more groups that we are putting into a category of forcing people to conduct business with," said Buck.


By coming back to work more closely with state Republicans, it seems Buck might want another high profile job. Is he the chair of the Colorado GOP to up his profile to run for U.S. Senate or governor?

"The answer is yes, but I'm not going to do it," said Buck. "You can hold onto this as long as you want. I've had enough brain damage in this business. I just want to make sure everybody knows that there will be a time where I'm looking for an exit strategy."

WATCH: Our full interview with Congressman Ken Buck

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