Penry dropping out of Colorado governor’s race
Associated Press Writer
Denver, CO Colorado
DENVER – Republican state Sen. Josh Penry said Tuesday he is dropping out of the race for Colorado governor in a move he believes will give the GOP a better chance of unseating Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter next year.
Penry told The Associated Press he was ending his run against former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis because McInnis had better name recognition, more money and a better chance of beating Ritter next year.
“We are getting out of the race,” Penry said. “In light of a real opportunity for Republicans in 2010, the question for me was whether it was right spending millions of dollars to close that gap with Scott or fall back and fight another day.”
Penry’s decision leaves McInnis and Evergreen businessman Dan Maes in the race for the Republican nomination.
Penry met with McInnis later in the day to seek assurances that McInnis would pursue changes in the Republican Party that Penry believes are needed if the GOP is going to win back power next year. But he left the meeting without endorsing McInnis.
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“There is a very real vein we struck with our campaign with people who are frustrated. I hope he will say that he will continue to shake that up,” Penry said.
McInnis called the meeting productive and promised to work hard to earn the support of all Coloradans “to restore common sense, fiscal discipline, and economic opportunity to our state.”
Ritter said McInnis still has a primary against Maes, and the race is wide open for other Republican challengers to enter the race.
“I don’t think he’s the presumptive nominee by any stretch,” Ritter said.
During his campaign that began in July, Penry talked about rugged individualism and government staying out of people’s lives. He said his campaign wouldn’t get bogged down in social issues such as gay marriage.
“We can’t be a finger-wagging party. We can’t judge harshly those who disagree with us. The best tool is persuasion, not judgment,” he said at a candidate forum last week.
Penry said voters are frustrated with a lack of leadership from Democrats and Ritter on major issues, including the state budget, Ritter’s tough new oil and gas regulations, and expanding bureaucracy and state government.
“Business as usual cannot go on,” Penry said. “I’m not leaving the fray, I’m not leaving the fight. Many generals understand the importance of a tactical retreat.”
McInnis served in the state Legislature before being elected to represent the 3rd District in Congress from 1993 to 2005. The fourth-generation Coloradan was born and raised in Glenwood Springs, where he served as a police officer before earning a law degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.
McInnis drew criticism this year from party regulars when he refused to debate Penry, saying he didn’t want to give Democrats ammunition for the general election. McInnis said the GOP lost to Ritter three years ago because Republicans fought among themselves, and he had no intention of repeating that mistake.
McInnis reported raising nearly $550,000 for his gubernatorial campaign in the latest quarter. Penry collected about $416,000 in the same period. McInnis also topped Ritter, who reported collecting $452,000 in July, August and September.
Maes said he raised about $12,000.
Democrats hold a majority in both chambers of Colorado’s statehouse, the governorship, five of seven congressional seats and both U.S. Senate seats. Barack Obama won the state in the 2008 presidential campaign.