Norton, Penry get early GOP nods in straw poll at Keystone | SummitDaily.com

Norton, Penry get early GOP nods in straw poll at Keystone

Lynn Bartels
The Denver Post

Ryan Call collects straw poll ballots with a water cooler at Keystone Lodge Friday evening, September 25, 2009. The GOP held their meeting and straw poll for Governor and Senate seats at Keystone Lodge Friday. Kenneth D. Lyons, The Denver Post

KEYSTONE – Republicans trying to oust a Democratic governor and U.S. senator made their cases to nearly 380 party loyalists during at a dinner at Keystone Resort on Friday night.

After their speeches, Republicans took a straw poll and gave top honors to gubernatorial candidate Josh Penry, the state Senate minority leader, and former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Norton received 119 votes, while second place was a tie between Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck and Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, who each received 94 votes.

Norton has been considered the front-runner, but Buck’s and Frazier’s strong showing excited their supporters. “I was surprised at the vote,” said Scott Starin, Boulder County GOP chairman. “Jane didn’t hit it out of the ballpark. That race is not over yet.”

Penry, one of three candidates vying to unseat Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, won easily with nearly 80 percent of the votes. However, one of his chief rivals, former congressman Scott McInnis, had pointedly declined to participate in the poll. McInnis received about 11 percent of the vote.

“Reforming bureaucracy means putting an end to Bill Ritter’s executive order unionizing state government,” Penry said to cheers. “If you elect me governor, I’ll repeal that union order, and I’ll do it on the first day.”

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Read the rest at http://www.denverpost.com/ci_13424927