McInnis misses one opportunity against Dem foe, seizes another

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis is spoiling for a debate with the only Democrat in the race, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

Getting into the same room with Hickenlooper, however, has been problematic at best.

Hickenlooper last Thursday had McInnis’ natural audience, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, to himself as the association had a reception for its new executive director, Tisha Conoly Schuller.

McInnis said he was speaking in Fort Collins and couldn’t make it. State Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, however, was displeased that Hickenlooper had the room to himself.

Penry fired off an e-mail that he said was critical of the association for allowing Hickenlooper to “act like a friend of natural gas” when the mayor was complicit in Gov. Bill Ritter’s “job-killing oil and gas rules.”

McInnis, however, did get his face-to-face meeting the next day when Hickenlooper walked into a GOP luncheon fundraiser in Denver highlighted by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Sensing an opportunity, McInnis said Tuesday, he offered to escort Hickenlooper to the state Capitol for a joint statement to repudiate legislative Democrats’ plans to eliminate a dozen tax credits and raise $150 million for state coffers.

“It was very pleasant,” McInnis said of the conversation. But Hickenlooper’s answer was no, McInnis said.

Hickenlooper, whose office didn’t respond immediately for comment about meeting McInnis, has criticized the new drilling rules since he opted to run for governor.

Hickenlooper is a geologist who became a Denver restaurateur after he was laid off from his original line of work.

“I’m not going to let him have it both ways,” McInnis said. “Where was he when the regulations were being done?”

COGA’s Schuller, who was hired in December, said the welcome reception was “an informal, social gathering, and we are genuinely sorry that there was any misunderstanding,” and the association looks forward to working with both parties in the legislative session.

Having helped Daniels raise money in Colorado, McInnis said Daniels offered to return the favor and host a fundraiser for him in Indiana.

Sentinel reporter Charles Ashby contributed to this story.


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