Fort Carson expansion will play into contest, one GOP candidate says

The race between two Republicans for the party’s nomination for governor will come down to their differences over the handling of the Army’s desire to expand Fort Carson, Evergreen businessman Dan Maes said Friday.

He and Scott McInnis, the front-running former U.S. representative from Grand Junction, have different views on the issue, Maes said in an interview after he spoke to the monthly luncheon of the Mesa County Republican Party at Two Rivers Convention Center.

Ranchers and others in southeastern Colorado oppose the Army’s efforts to expand Fort Carson’s 35,000-acre training area by at least 100,000 acres.

McInnis “is clearly in favor” of the Army’s plans, Maes said, and “I feel there should be a resolution between the Army and the ranchers.”

The contest, he said, will be decided by the difference between the two on private-property rights.

The GOP race boiled down to Maes and McInnis late last year when state Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, withdrew.

The incumbent, Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, withdrew his bid for re-election last week, and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper now is the party’s candidate for the post.

Maes said he hopes to gain 71 percent support from delegates to the GOP’s state convention this spring, forcing McInnis to make a “hard choice” whether to petition onto the ballot and force a primary election or withdraw.

Maes, 49, said he’ll rely on his business background to persuade voters he has the executive experience needed in the governor’s mansion, and he’ll avoid a destructive primary fight by stressing his strengths and conservative beliefs.

“You don’t have to put a contract in front of me to make me behave like a conservative,” he told the Mesa County Republicans.


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