Colo. Republican lawmakers united behind McInnis
DENVER – A group of current and former Republican lawmakers, including former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, united Monday behind gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis as they unveiled a conservative agenda they say will help them unseat Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter.
Former Gov. Bill Owens – as well as Tancredo; McInnis’ former GOP rival, state Sen. Josh Penry; Republican state party chairman Dick Wadhams and about 20 current and state lawmakers endorsed the “Platform for Prosperity.”
It calls for opposing tax hikes and significant new fees and backs loosening oil and gas regulations and promoting development of renewable energy and nuclear power. It also backs requiring employers to verify their workers are in the country legally and reinstating Owens’ ban on taxpayer funding to organizations that provide abortions.
After Penry dropped out of the race, Tancredo considered running but said Monday he would back McInnis and the agenda he helped draft. He wanted to make sure it included opposition to illegal immigration, including checking to make sure the limited jobs in the recession were going to “white, brown and black Americans.”
“This is not a hard-hearted thing. It’s just prioritizing,” he said.
McInnis served in the state Legislature before representing the 3rd District in Congress in 1993-2005. He still faces another Republican challenger, Evergreen businessman Dan Maes, who called the platform a marketing ploy to make McInnis appear more conservative than he really is.
“It’s improper for a small group of people to define who they think Republicans are, and they should allow the party and the ‘small d’ democratic process decide who the candidates should be,” said Maes, who spent the day campaigning in McInnis’s hometown of Grand Junction.
McInnis unveiled the agenda at RK Mechanical in Denver, a duct work manufacturer which has laid of 10 percent of its workers in the last three months because of a slowdown in the construction industry. He stressed the importance of creating jobs and accused Ritter of losing high-paying energy jobs by pushing for new regulations aimed at protecting water quality, public health and wildlife. He said Colorado is in worse shape than when Ritter was elected to replace Owens in 2006 and that Ritter has shown a lack of leadership.
McInnis chided Ritter for calling a news conference Sunday evening to comment on the GOP plans in advance of the agenda’s official unveiling.
“Governor, I understand you’re scared and you ought to be,” he said.
Ritter dismissed the platform as a “decade-and-a-half-old strategy.” He said the fact that Colorado’s 6.9 percent unemployment rate is below the national average of 10.2 shows that his strategy for creating jobs, including ones in renewable energy, is working.
He said lower commodities prices, not oil and gas regulations, were to blame for the loss of energy jobs, and said the tighter rules were needed to protect Colorado residents and their environment.
“This is a great state to be a governor of and I’m not going to ever apologize for maintaining that greatness,” he said.
Penry dropped out of the race earlier this month and formally endorsed McInnis over the weekend, saying it was more important for Republicans to work together to defeat Ritter than to fight among themselves.
He thinks the agenda could help McInnis win in swing districts in suburban Denver where Democrats have made gains recently. He also said it will help them try to win more seats in the Democrat-controlled legislature.
“It’s not just about winning for winning’s sake. It’s about leading Colorado in the right direction,” he said.
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