Republican state Rep. Richard Holtorf of Akron said he is considering a primary challenge to Congressman Ken Buck in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District next year. Holtorf said he has created an exploratory committee and plans to make a decision by early December. Holtorf cited Buck’s recent defense of the treatment of Jan. 6th defendants and his opposition to House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden as two examples of a disconnect with the district, as well as other recent comments critical of House GOP leadership. Republican Justin Schreiber, a political newcomer, has also filed paperwork for a run. Buck’s campaign had no comment on Holtorf’s potential challenge. But last week, the congressman shrugged off the prospect of a primary challenge.
Colorado’s largely rural 4th Congressional District spans the Eastern Plains and northern Colorado, with Highlands Ranch, Loveland, Castle Rock and Parker as its largest population centers. It’s the state’s reddest district, with Republicans holding a nearly 27-point advantage, based on past election results. Holtorf, a farmer and rancher, was initially appointed to his seat in the state legislature after his predecessor, Rep. Kimmi Lewis, died of cancer in late 2019. He has since won reelection twice. Holtorf sits on the House’s Agriculture and Public Health committees. In past sessions, he’s cosponsored a number of bipartisan bills that have become law, including to support rural telecom providers and encourage the expansion of geothermal energy. He’s unsuccessfully introduced bills to audit the state’s election processes and lower the income tax rate.
Holtorf has generated some controversy during his time in office. In 2021, he was roundly criticized for referring to a Latino colleague as “Buckwheat,” a comment many found racist, and that Holtorf subsequently apologized for. And last year, he accidentally dropped a handgun while entering the House chamber ahead of a vote. Lawmakers are allowed to carry concealed weapons at the state capitol because it is considered their place of business under state law. Holtorf told CPR News that his exploratory committee will conduct polling, examine voter sentiment and determine whether he should run for the congressional seat.