Former congressman unlikely to run for governor |

Former congressman unlikely to run for governor

Dennis Webb
Post Independent/Kelley Cox Congressman John Salazar, right, joins former congressman Scott McInnis in Parachute for a tour with Encana representatives of the North Parachute Ranch.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis has all but ruled out a run for governor, fearing his advocacy on behalf of Western Slope water interests could douse his chances of winning the Republican primary.McInnis, who represented Eagle County in Congress before districts were drawn, said he isn’t saying “no” altogether to the idea, but he indicated that it’s highly unlikely.”Right now my real focus is completing my relocation to Colorado and not the governor’s race,” said McInnis, now a lawyer at Hogan & Hartson in Denver .

A Glenwood Springs native, McInnis completed a 12-year tenure in Congress in 2004, deciding against running for a seventh term. McInnis represented the 3rd Congressional District, which includes western Colorado. Before going to Congress he represented the Glenwood Springs area in the Colorado House of Representatives for a decade.In both capacities he was involved on water issues. Most of Colorado’s precipitation falls on the Western Slope, and the region is ever-wary of Front Range attempts to divert water through tunnels under the Continental Divide.As he looked at a run for governor, McInnis said, he learned that his history on water issues might hurt him in the Colorado Springs area.”I received several reminders of my clashes on water over there,” McInnis said.

That’s a problem because the Colorado Springs area is heavily Republican and will be well-represented in the state Republican convention and primary, McInnis said.Pat Waak, chairperson of the Colorado Democratic Party, thinks McInnis’ Western Slope perspective would have made him a solid contender in the Republican primary. But she said it could be hard for someone with a history of advocating for the Western Slope on water to convince the rest of the state that he has sympathy for their position.”Any candidate running for governor is going to have to try to find a place of balance” on water,” she said.Allegations against him of misuse of campaign funds played no part in his decision to not pursue running for governor, McInnis said. The Federal Elections Commission recently dismissed a complaint filed by the Colorado Democratic Party, which claimed McInnis inappropriately paid his wife, Lori, with campaign funds in 2004 even though he had decided in 2003 that he wouldn’t run for re-election.

McInnis had countered that his wife was helping him with his duties as a congressman and winding down campaign activities. The FEC decided the complaint warranted dismissal because it was not a high-priority matter.”The Democratic state party, they knew downright what the results were going to be. Everybody knew what the results were going to be,” he said.Vail, Colorado

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