Drawing lines in governor’s race

Republican leaders in Colorado, including leading gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis, are taking direct aim at Gov. Bill Ritter and recent Democratic legislative actions in crafting a state GOP platform they hope will avoid a divisive primary in the govern’s race next year.

Whether a primary occurs is still up in the air. But if the proposed platform becomes GOP campaign policy across the board, voters will have some clear-cut choices to make next November on whether to continue the course of current state government or roll back key actions.

Among other things, according to The Denver Post, the proposed GOP platform calls for the state to eliminate new vehicle registration fees that were adopted by the Legislature this year. Ritter lobbied hard for the new fees as a means to provide additional highway funding for the state.

Additionally, the Republican platform calls for the reversal of a policy that allowed property taxes in the state to increase to help the state budget deal with mandated increases in school funding.

The platform would also rescind an executive order from Ritter that allowed state employees to unionize.

Other provisions in the platform are more ambiguous. One calls for responsible energy development in the state, but so far the GOP hasn’t said whether it would try to get rid of new state drilling regulations adopted this year.

There is also a provision calling for a rainy day fund in the state budget, something state Sen. Josh Penry has sought as long as he’s been in the Legislature.

Penry caused a stir in state politics earlier this month with his surprise announcement that he was dropping out of the governor’s race. He didn’t immediately endorse McInnis, saying he wanted to see information from McInnis on how he would deal with problems the state faces.

The proposed platform is, in part, an attempt to answer that question. But after Penry dropped out of the race, McInnis faced another potential challenge in his bid to become the GOP nominee for governor: former Congressman Tom Tancredo.

Even if Tancredo doesn’t run, McInnis still faces a challenge from Evergreen businessman Don Maes.

McInnis has said he hopes the platform will create a unified party this year, and avoid the primary election and deep divisions he believes cost Republicans the governor’s election in 2006.

One thing it will do is ask voters to decide a clear question: As the state strives to balance the budget in the midst of the recession, do Coloradans want to stick with Ritter’s policies or do they believe rolling back taxes and reducing revenue is a better prescription?


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