McInnis says he and Penry could both be guv someday

If he and Josh Penry can work together, the Western Slope could control the Colorado governorship for 16 years, Scott McInnis said.

McInnis, a Grand Junction resident who represented the 3rd Congressional District for 12 years, is vying for the Republican nomination to run against incumbent Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter in 2010. The 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses most of the Western Slope and southern edge of the state, has been held by Democrat John Salazar since McInnis retired in 2004.

The main person standing in McInnis’ way is Penry, who was a staffer for McInnis in Washington, D.C., and now is the GOP leader in the Colorado Senate.

Whetting the appetites of both is a poll that suggests Ritter is vulnerable in his bid for re-election. The poll by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling shows McInnis with a 48 percent to 42 percent edge over Ritter in a head-to-head match. Ritter holds a slight edge over Penry, 42 percent to 40 percent, according to the poll of 1,050 Colorado voters conducted between April 17 and 19. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent.

One thing clear from the poll is that a locus of political power is forming on the Western Slope, McInnis said.

If he and Penry were to set aside “our personal interests, we could make a very powerful team for the West Slope,” he said.

“I don’t know how that configures,” McInnis said of exactly how the two might team up.
In any case, McInnis is going full steam for the nomination, politicking at every opportunity, he said.

Penry, who remains most weekdays at the state Capitol, said he has not made up his mind about running for governor, “although I can say the volume on the conversations seems to be picking up.”

He planned to discuss the possibility of a run with his family after the end of the legislative session, Penry said, adding the poll “very clearly shows that the public recognizes that this governor is moving Colorado dramatically in the wrong direction.”

McInnis is expecting him to run, though, having heard through intermediaries that Penry is prepared for the bid, McInnis said.

A Facebook page aimed at drafting Penry for governor isn’t his doing, but one of his friends, a former McInnis staffer, Penry said.

“He called one day and said, ‘You’re welcome,’ ” Penry said. “Three days later, I found out.”

A McInnis-Penry face-off on the surface might look like the kind of shoe-leather campaign that earned McInnis a reputation as an indefatigable campaigner. But his bid will be more than shoe-leather and handshakes, he said.

“We won’t be outdone by anyone,” he said, vowing to use all the cyberspace weapons at his command, from Web pages to Twitter.

“I’ve got to master that so I can do it with one hand while I hand out a brochure with the other,” McInnis said.


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