Penry, Norton clobber field in GOP straw poll

FRISCO — Colorado Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry easily captured the majority of votes for governor in a straw poll of Republican Party leaders Friday night.

Grand Junction native Jane Norton also collected the most votes among party leaders surveying the field for the U.S. Senate nomination.

With 269 votes, Penry, a Grand Junction state senator, easily outdistanced former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, who tallied 38 votes without showing up at the GOP Central Committee meeting in Frisco.

McInnis was instead at a meeting of the National Rifle Association in Colorado Springs.

He had criticized the straw poll, saying it was not scientific and that with the primary election 11 months off, it was too early for Republicans to be fighting.

McInnis is, however, touting a poll conducted by the Virginia-based Tarrance Group and released this week by the Colorado Policy Institute. The poll of 500 likely Republican primary voters shows him receiving 40 percent of the vote, Penry getting 13 percent, and 47 percent of voters undecided. The poll’s margin for error was listed at plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

In addition to McInnis and Penry, Front Range businessman Dan Maes tallied 29 straw poll votes Friday.

“We are honored and humbled by the win,” Penry said in an e-mail, “but there’s a long, long way to go. No victory laps. We’re keeping the pedal to the metal.”

No resting on the laurels for him, either, McInnis said.

“It’s going to be a fight to the finish,” he said.

The Republican Central Committee meeting is the first opportunity for candidates to make their case before a large gathering of party leaders, party Chairman Dick Wadhams said.

Among the candidates vying for the party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate, Norton led the way with 119 votes. Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck and Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier each tallied 94 votes, and Crested Butte businessman Luke Korkowski and former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Littleton got 12 votes each. Montezuma County civic leader Gary Kennedy got six votes.

The Republican nominee for governor will take on incumbent Democrat Bill Ritter, and the GOP Senate nominee will face either incumbent Michael Bennet or challenger Andrew Romanoff on the Democrat side.


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