Hickenlooper criticizes political, lobbying background of McInnis

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper

DENVER — Twelve years in Congress and time working as a lobbyist perhaps isn’t the best experience to be Colorado’s next governor, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said Wednesday.

Addressing the 112th National Western Mining Conference one day after the leading GOP gubernatorial challenger did, Hickenlooper told the 200 miners that he, and not Scott McInnis, has the right experience to lead the state.

The Democratic mayor said his experience as a geologist who was laid off in the 1980s during a bad recession, and building a profitable business afterward, taught him the lessons any governor should know.

“What really drove me nuts was when government wasted tax money to create needless red tape that really hobbled private businesses,” Hickenlooper said from Washington, D.C., where he has been snowed in for two days.

“Congressman McInnis spent a number of years … in Congress, and since then he’s been a lobbyist for large companies trying to get things from Congress,” he added. “I’m not sure that’s the right experience if you’re really trying to figure out how to make government more efficient and reduce the red tape.”

In McInnis’ address to the conference, he attacked Hickenlooper and other Democrats, saying they were responsible for hurting the oil and gas industry with new regulations. He said miners are next.

Hickenlooper said his work as a geologist taught him the importance of developing the state’s natural resources. He said roadless rules that the federal government is considering should take into account access for mining and drilling companies.

But the audience was more interested in Hickenlooper’s stance on climate change, particularly after the mayor’s statement at a United Nations conference in Copenhagen last December that he wanted to “sit down with every skeptic (and) walk them through all the evidence.”

The mayor backed off that statement, saying climate change is like having homeowners’ insurance. A house may never catch fire, but it’s smart to guard against it anyway.

“I don’t think the scientific community has decided with certainty that this climate change is as catastrophic as so many people think,” he said.

McInnis spokesman Sean Duffy said voters want clarity and consistency in their candidates, and Hickenlooper’s response isn’t it.

“(McInnis) would be one of the skeptics that the mayor needs to sit down with and convert,” Duffy said. “He, like a lot of Coloradans, have a lot of questions and doesn’t accept what the mayor and a lot of others say about it … particularly when the mayor couldn’t be here because of a 4-foot snowstorm.”


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