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September 05, 2009 06:48 PM UTC

Penry Loves the Snarky Comeback (1st Rule of Leadership Edition)

  • by: Colorado Pols

As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

…According to an audio recording of a portion of the hearing posted on, [Sen. Shawn] Mitchell referred to a witness’ comment that he was nervous at the beginning of this testimony but indicated that the witness didn’t seem nervous.

“If any of those (witnesses) that follow are (nervous), I just want to pass on a tip that sometimes when I’m in committee and I’m nervous, I relieve that by imagining the chairwoman in her underwear,” Mitchell said.

The chairwoman of the committee is Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora. The committee is charged with investigating alleged abuses by Pinnacol Assurance, the state’s workers’ compensation insurer.

Several people can be heard laughing at Mitchell’s comment. A woman presumed to be Carroll noted that Mitchell “got a laugh out of that.”

“I’ll try that next time, sir,” the witness said.

“I don’t recommend that,” Carroll replied.

In a prepared statement, former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler, a ProgressNow Colorado board member, chastised Mitchell for making a “sophomoric, suggestive comment” and said Penry “is either too weak or tone-deaf to get control of his caucus.”

Reached late Friday afternoon, Penry called Mitchell’s remark “an obviously inappropriate comment” and said Mitchell “should make it right” with Carroll.

“And since we’re in the business of asking people to apologize for the actions of others, I call on Ms. Schoettler to apologize for (Gov.) Bill Ritter’s massive car tax increase, his job-killing oil and gas rules, and for repealing the Senior Homestead Property Tax Exemption,” Penry wrote in an e-mail.

A couple of observations:

1. As you can see, Senate Minority Leader/gubernatorial candidate Josh Penry doesn’t mince as many words this time–Mitchell’s comment was “obviously inappropriate.” We’re not quite sure what “make it right” means, presumably it means an apology. That’s what it probably should mean.

Seems to us that’s a very different response than Penry had to, for example, Dave Schultheis’ uber-creepy “It’s my hope that that person may have AIDS” remarks. As you know, Penry was roundly criticized for his inept response to extreme statements by members of his caucus during this year’s session. Might almost make you think he learned his lesson, until we get to

2. Penry seems to think that former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler should apologize for a laundry list of Bill Ritter “misdeeds,” such as the FASTER bill for transportation funding, new oil and gas drilling protections, and being forced to cut the homestead exemption like Republicans did in 2003 during a much less severe downturn. We’re pretty sure you could argue those on the merits and still not approach the level of first-person disgust most people feel about sexual harrassment–but whatever.

Another more fundamental difference helps explain Penry’s problem: Bill Ritter is the Governor, and we don’t think there’s a position of “Governor Majority Leader” above the Governor–and if there is, Gail Schoettler doesn’t hold it. Josh Penry, on the other hand, is the Senate Minority Leader, meaning he’s the closest thing to oversight Shawn Mitchell has got. From Jim Welker to Michael Garcia to Doug Bruce, there are examples of legislative leadership policing their own when not doing so threatens to become a political liability.

But not Penry! He’s kind of annoyed he got called about this, and prefers a snarky comeback to acknowledging what most real leaders already know: in leadership, the buck stops with you.


50 thoughts on “Penry Loves the Snarky Comeback (1st Rule of Leadership Edition)

  1. (Gov.) Bill Ritter’s massive car tax increase, his job-killing oil and gas rules, and for repealing the Senior Homestead Property Tax Exemption,”

    Ok, fair enough. A clear specific policy stand. So please tell us the other half – where do you fund these? Is it a tax increase you are proposing? Or if it’s different cuts, can you give us the specific cuts?

  2. Kudos to Pols for mentioning Douglas Bruce in their list of properly-policed rogue legislators. While I’d expect little less from any competent leader, I was grateful for Leader May’s genuine and well-executed efforts to distance his caucus from Bruce – both his wacky outbursts and his bogus policy positions.

    Of course, shortly after Bruce’s appointment, it became clear that he would be nothing more than a source of embarrassment to the Republican legislative caucuses. Unfortunately, Senator Penry didn’t seem to view the comments made by Schultheis or Renfroe as potentially embarrassing. Instead, he seemed more concerned with policing the “embarrassing” actions of Senator White and Representative Marostica, when those two dared to lift a toe out of line.

  3. Penry is good with the :30 sec. sound bite but not the snarky comebacks.  Wadhams has his man as campaign manager and you can bet Wadhams is helping develop all messages including this one.

    1. at your peril. Read the lengthy interview with Penry in this week’s Statesman, and then compare it with the defensiveness verging on incoherence we get from McInnis and the mild-mannered, “let’s not offend anyone” nice guy approach of Bill Ritter. I think it’s really a mistake to miss how good Penry has gotten at articulating his message (whether you agree with it or not).

      1. He’s very good (as all good politicians are) at going on at length without any substance at all. I’ve heard him speak on a number of occasions.

        Penry rails about the legislature “not making the hard choices.” He neglects to mentioned what choices he’d make.

        He rails about oil & gas regs costing jobs, and conveniently avoids the nosediving price of natural gas.

        He says taxes are too high, but says nothing about how state government should be run without revenue.

        He doesn’t like paroling people early. Fine. Where’s the money to keep them locked up? Same with the Regional Center in Grand Junction. To keep what open, what would you cut elsewhere?

        Saying you’d take a hard look at all areas of the budget, starting withe the governor’s office, is a good notion. Hardly new. You’ve been in the legislature for five years, Josh. Why haven’t you looked at this before and proposed concrete cuts?

        When he gets some kind of coherent message and not just rhetoric, I’ll be waiting to hear it.

        But snark? He’s very good. Shows promise, that boy.

        1. is like watching a Lloyd and Croft sitcom.  It is so dumb, you just have to laugh.

          “Duh,” said Penry, who is the minority leader for the GOP in the state Senate”  -Charles Ashby

          1. You’re right on that. But the few oil and gas counties in the state, with the exception of Las Animas, are Republican voters anyway.

            Plus, the price of gas isn’t that complicated if Ritter can figure out how to communicate it.

            Boom: $13+ (free market)

            Bust: $2.50 (free market)

            I’m not blowing Penry off. He’s fearless, filled with bullshit, glib and confident past the point of arrogance. Just the thing the faithful want.

            We will see. It’ll be fun to watch.

            1. He’s fearless, filled with bullshit, glib and confident past the point of arrogance.

              And those characteristics, I believe, will be his downfall. Those of us who live in Penryville (even though our Prince has left us to usurp the throne) know him very well. He has bought the Rove/Wadhams philosophy that the electorate is a brainless block of clay for them to mold. That hyper-arrogance will not serve them much longer.  

              1. He’s from Mesa County, the prime example of an electorate that votes again and again against its own self-interest.

                What he’ll find out, though, is that most of the rest of the state (alas, not all) doesn’t think that way.

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