Penry announces he’s running for governor
July 11, 2009
DENVER – Colorado state Sen. Josh Penry tossed his hat into the governor’s race Saturday, saying he’s not only battling his former boss and an Evergreen businessman for the Republican Party’s nod but also the party itself.
“Ultimately we ran because we do believe the party needs a clean break from the past and be a party with guts to move in a new direction,” Penry told The Associated Press by phone after his announcement in Grand Junction.
Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, is up for re-election next year.
Two other Republicans have already entered the race, including his one-time boss, former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis. Penry worked as an aide for McInnis in Washington. Dan Maes, who recently sold a credit reporting company that he started from scratch, is also seeking the GOP nomination.
“As a Republican, we’re excited to have really quality candidates for the governor’s race,” Maes said. “I think it’s going to lead to a great spirited, positive race between the three great candidates.”
Penry is a rising star in the Colorado Republican Party, gaining the leadership of the minority in the state Senate at age 33. He’s married and has two children.
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“Those of us who run have to acknowledge the past failures of the party,” he said. “Fiscal discipline, the economic message. That is still a compelling message. The Republican Party hasn’t had any credibility there after years of governing.”
Ritter won the governorship in 2006 when Democrats were elected to a majority in the Legislature and in Congress.
During a luncheon at the Arapahoe County Republican Men’s Club in March, Penry talked about rugged individualism and government staying out of people’s lives. He said his campaign won’t get bogged down in conservative social issues, including gay marriage.
“I will run as a conservative, but my focus will be on a balanced budget and good schools,” Penry said. “We’re going to talk about issues where we can move the agenda.
“When our party is at its best, our party stands for freedom.”
Penry said he’s hopeful the three-way race will remain amicable. He said he spoke with McInnis about running for governor.
“He made it clear that he was looking at the race,” Penry said. “I told him I understood that it was his last shot, but that I would make my own decision.”
It’s not the first time he’s competed against his former boss. Penry defeated McInnis’ brother-in-law Matt Smith in 2006 for the state Senate seat he now holds, despite campaigning by McInnis.
McInnis declined to comment on Penry’s announcement Saturday, said Mike Hesse, former chief of staff for McInnis. “Today’s Josh’s day,” Hesse said.