While Buck and McCarthy once had a stronger relationship, the Coloradan dropped hints during January’s chaotic speakership election that he’d entertain other candidates if the vote dragged on. He ultimately stuck with McCarthy.
Asked after the Tusk Club meeting if he respects McCarthy, Buck took a noticeable pause.
He said the speaker has “done more with his talent than anybody I’ve ever seen.” Asked the question again, he answered: “I respect all the things he’s done.”
That somewhat faint praise comes as Buck faults McCarthy’s handling of the two biggest issues in Washington right now: the House GOP’s impeachment inquiry, which he dismissed in his op-ed as “a flimsy excuse,” and spending talks.
Buck is also annoyed with the speaker’s lack of movement on ideas to rein in spending, like assigning subcommittees to work on rooting out government waste — which could make him more of a threat to the speaker.
“Here’s the problem: He said spending was his number one priority when he was elected speaker. And then he didn’t institute any of the things that I’m talking about.”
Buck added that McCarthy can’t gain back his confidence on the matter because the speaker’s camp doesn’t “take it seriously,” lamenting that “their goal is to stay in power.”
Colleagues who know Buck well aren’t surprised to see him all but laugh off the blowback he’s getting, from public attacks by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to whispers about a primary challenge.
Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), a friend since their days as law school classmates, described his ideology as “a very different brand of conservatism that is typical of the intermountain West,” if not typically reflected in the party’s base.
Take his dogged refusal to object to Biden’s win. Lummis recalled running into a fired-up Buck at the Denver airport, both of them headed to Washington for the election certification votes on Jan. 6, 2021.