Penry won’t try to keep Senate seat

Minority Leader Josh Penry will not run for re-election to his state Senate seat, the Grand Junction Republican said Thursday.

Penry’s unexpected withdrawal in November from the race to be the GOP nominee for governor created uncertainty not only for Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, who had already announced plans to seek Penry’s seat, but also a slew of Republican candidates hoping to replace King in the Colorado House.

Penry said that his immediate plans are to help Scott McInnis win the nomination against Evergreen businessman Dan Maes and then take the executive branch away from Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter.

“Obviously when I decided to run for governor, there was a clear decision on our part to chase new challenges,” the 33-year-old said. “That didn’t work out as we hoped, but there are clearly new challenges and opportunities.

“For the short term, I’ll fall back to a supporting role and put my shoulder to the pile and do everything I can to get Scott McInnis and other Republicans elected, and let the rest take care of itself after that.”

Penry, who was elected to the state House in 2004 and joined the Senate two years later, wouldn’t say what his plans would be after next year’s elections, implying that opportunities will come up if McInnis wins.

He said the two of them have not made any deals that would give Penry a Cabinet post or some other state job, but he didn’t rule out that possibility should McInnis win next fall. Penry reiterated he would not be McInnis’ lieutenant governor running mate.

“When we elect a new governor, those types of things take care of themselves,” he said. “When you win elections, opportunities to impact public policy take care of themselves. Scott and I have spent a lot of time on the phone … and certainly if he wins, I would be ready to help him however he wants.”

Penry’s announcement means King will go ahead with his bid to replace Penry, and four GOP candidates — David Cox, Robert Hislop, Duncan McArthur and Ray Scott — will try to get the nomination to take King’s place.

No Democrat has announced plans to seek either seat.

King said he is sorry Penry’s days in the Legislature are numbered, but that he looks forward to what the senator can do during his last session and in helping the former Grand Junction congressman become the state’s next governor.

“I’m sure that this was not an easy decision for him, but I also think that it was one where he wants to have an impact on turning our state around,” King said. “If, in fact, Congressman McInnis is elected governor of our state, there’s no doubt in my mind that Senator Penry is going to have an active part in shaping his administration and helping him be successful.”

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland said Penry has done much for the state and the county and she hopes he will continue to play a role in whatever direction Colorado heads.

“At a time when most Americans, myself included, are sick of politics as usual, Josh has been a breath of fresh air,” Rowland said. “Josh put on the war paint every day and fought for Mesa County.”

“While I was disappointed that Josh dropped out of the governor’s race, it just underscored even more his character and his interest in doing what is best for Colorado and its citizens over what is best for Josh.”


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