Slow Political Death for Penry, Gardner Continues

We wrote in July that Republican State Sen. Josh Penry and Republican Rep. Cory Gardner may have sealed their political doom with an idiotic plan to divert oil and gas severance tax money to a small piece of highway improvements on I-70.

That slow death continued over the weekend when the influential conservative group Club 20 voted to oppose Amendment 52. As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

Backers of a measure to reshuffle severance-tax money to improve roads started the Club 20 fall debates with the organization’s support.

The organization, though, changed its mind late Saturday afternoon and voted to oppose Amendment 52, the “Better Roads Now” measure.

The amendment would cap existing severance tax funding for the Department of Natural Resources at the 2007-08 level and divert additional revenue to roads. Opponents said the measure didn’t belong in the Constitution.

Jim Lochhead, a former director of the Department of Natural Resources, called it a “constitutional earmark.”…

…Club 20 is backing a measure that would make it more difficult to amend the constitution, and board members were uncomfortable with doing that while supporting an amendment, Executive Director Reeves Brown said.

Club 20 also supported the measure knowing it would direct more money to the east.

Opposition on both counts “resonated with the board,” which reversed its support, he said…

…Colorado also needs $2.7 billion for water projects, and the measure would divert money from those needs, Lochhead said.

Why is this such a big deal for Penry and Gardner? Because it reminds us a lot of the ill-fated Referendum A that essentially ended the political careers of other Republican rising stars. Club 20 is basically Penry’s base, and even they think his idea is stupid.

48 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. redstateblues says:

    when you have people who know that we need infrastructure improvements, but who are so adamantly against raising taxes to get it, that they will ignore common sense.

  2. Truant says:

    You wish, Pols. If 52 wins, Penry and Gardner look like geniuses, and each has a signature achievement to run on in two years. If it loses, they can blame Ritter’s severance tax hike (which is going down in flames) for confusing voters and bring a tweaked version of the idea before the legislature, likely with Club 20’s support. It’s a win-win.

    Western slopers are not going to crucify their own golden boy. So keep dreaming.

  3. bob ewegen says:

    Don’t confuse the two, Pols.  Obviously, getting crosswise with Club 20 is not happy news for Penry. But Gardner isn’t from the Western Slope, he’s from Yuma. And Action 22, representing 22 southeast counties, including three in his district _ Cheyenne, Crowley and Kiowa _ just endorsed 52.

    • Colorado Pols says:

      Gardner will be drilled for supporting what opponents will call a local “earmark.” It won’t help his bid for congress in CD-4.

      • bob ewegen says:

        if the seat is open in 2010.

        On the proverbial other hand, I don’t think progressive 15, the northeastern counties, have weighed in yet.  I would be amazed if they endorse this thing.  Action 22 said they are hoping to get a few crumbs from the table for highway 50, which the measure allows to be upgraded to take some of the strain off 70. As far as I know, no such lagniapple is offered to northeastern colorado. P.S., I’m the one who first raised the earmark analogy and, yep, it stings.

        • Colorado Pols says:

          There will be a 3 to 4 way primary in 2010. Gardner will get raked over the coals for this, and it will keep him from winning a CD-4 primary. He’s safe in his legislative seat, sure, but it’s his political future that’s dying.

          • Haners says:

            His opponents have the means to rake him over the coals.

            Who are his “possible opponents”?  I see the party trying to clear the field again…

          • It's Me says:

            Gardner is the leader in that primary, and this won’t effect the race at all; he’ll just say he was moving the ball forward — something the district is very used to hearing.  

            Now with Penry… it could be interesting and may very well impact his looming congressional race (be it in ’10 or ’12).  

            • rancher says:

              If Marilyn goes, the primary frontrunners for the GOP in 2010 will be Brophy, Hillman and Buck.  Gardner is still the new kid on the block in the Fourth.

              • bob ewegen says:

                aint gonna back no Prius-driving, bicycle-kriding eco-freak like Brophy! Gardner in a walk.

              • Captain America says:

                Buck is only in the running in his own mind…

                Conservative primary voters aren’t going to support him.

                • bob ewegen says:

                  It’s not that Buck isn’t conservative, it’s that DAs, however important their jobs, don’t build the kind of records that lead to Congressional office.  The legislature does.   Denver DA Dale Tooley never moved up to Mayor. OK, Denver DA Iron Mike McKevitt had one term in Congress but that was a fluke because the Dems split asunder over the Vietnam war.

                  My guess is the nomination is between Hillman and Gardner, IF (which I doubt) there is a vacancy in 2010. But I think Hillman is more likely to run for governor than Congress. Kidding about Brophy aside, he’s surely conservative enough but I think Gardner just has more political skills.

          • DavidThi808 says:

            Betsy Markey will hold that seat for the next 20 years. CD-4 will be where Republicans go to end their careers.

            • bob ewegen says:

              If the Ds still hold a monopoly on power in the statehouse, you can expect a repeat of the Midnight Gerrymander, except they will do it in broad daylight, with full public participation, and will deal trhemselves a 5-2 advantage in the delegation.

               However,  barring that, I doubt that Markey holds a seat that has never, ever, gone D since the days of Wayne Aspinall, when it was mostly based on the Western Slope and when Aspinall was a hell of a lot more conservative than the Republican who followed him, Jim Johnson.

            • Republican 36 says:

              Bob is correct that the 4th CD hasn’t been in Democrat hands since Wayne Aspinall held it from 1949 through 1973; but the voters in that district are changing.  Based on Musgraves’ performance going from 57% of the vote in her first election to 51% in her second and then down to 45% two years ago, the voters aren’t interested in a candidate who focuses on “God, guns, gays and abortion,” and from where I sit the leading Republican candidates all fit into that wing of the party.  If Markey plays her cards right she can hold on in 2010 and then the legislature can make the district stronger for the 2012 election.

              • bob ewegen says:

                is favored for re-election if she works the constituent service thing like she should. But before Markey can be re-elected, she has to be elected and my money is still on Musgrave. Her rebound on Pinon Canyon was nothing short of masterful.   And without  look up her site, tell me ONE thing Markey is known for. It’s still a maxim of politics that you can’t beat somebody with nobody.

  4. Eye in the Sky says:

    Club 20 supports the idea of the amendment, but they withdrew support because they are supporting the measure to make it more difficult to amend the constitution.  That is the only reason and came directly from Reeves Brown, the executive director.

    If you’re gonna quote an article, please read it prior to posting!

    Keep trying to throw the daggers at Penry and Gardner pols.  These two are going to be elected to office for a long time.

    • Libertad says:

      “Action 22, representing 22 southeast counties, including three in his district _ Cheyenne, Crowley and Kiowa _ just endorsed 52.” – Mr. Ewegen

      Action 22 must not have gotten the call from the Denver Chamber and the Governor’s office to comply like Club 20 did.

      • bob ewegen says:


        Today’s economic climate is highly competitive, compelling all cities and states to focus on maintaining a strong business climate.  

        Colorado has had a unique and effective environment that balances the interests of labor and business as embodied in the “Colorado Labor Peace Act” of 1943, which has served business, labor and residents of Colorado very well for 65 years.  Action 22 urges the preservation of the existing “Colorado Labor Peace Act”.


        Action 22 is concerned about the recent proposed business-oriented and labor-oriented ballot initiatives which are contributing to a climate of hostility and confrontation.  These initiatives will severely harm the business climate of Colorado and damage the relationship between labor and business.  


        • redstateblues says:

          Action 22 got the call from Denver on Libertad’s pet issue instead.

          • Libertad says:

            Am I stunned? Nope. Obviously I am not following this with every second of my waking existence. Surely if I was the A-47 mouthpiece I would have known and not go there.

            Two things I am picking up. It is leaking out that the Chamber’s effort to oppose the radical union agenda is totally under funded. They are millions short, have no polling to sell their story, and can’t articulate their story in a light that will generate a call for funding. I think I read some of that in your paper Bob.

            My belief is they have abandoned their values and the membership has resigned itself to not help the valueless Chamber leadership.

            The other rumor on the street is a national business group has or will set-up a YES on 47, 49, 54 effort combined with a NO on Union measures.

            Maybe this rumored national level organization is restricting the funding of the Denver Chamber?

            Business could be dealt a massive blow for its refusal to stick to its values.

            • redstateblues says:

              if all of these horrible amendments pass. If you cared at all about businesses (instead of just spouting off ridiculous nonsense) you would be urging people to call off the dogs like David has been doing.

              You know David, right? He’s an actual  business owner. He’s been calling for a stop to this for some time now. And you may or may not be Jonathan Coors, but you definitely could help defuse this nuclear bomb.

              • Libertad says:

                Just think, (1) labor ruins the state’s business environment and (2) the Governor’s scholarships via tax increase/tax credit elimination amendment is toasted.

                The Governor will get all the blame and will have destroyed his re-election capital. Further, the Governor will have little credibility for his remaining two years and you can count on the Denver Post making sure their “Hoffa” is kept at 4 years.

                Yep Ritter is the key, the same guy that that gave state employees the Right-to-Work, but now fails to support those rights for all Coloradans. Apparently he is the key.

                As a Democrat Governor and strongly supported member of a Union he should have the ability to call off the Union before they destroy Colorado for David and his fellow business owners.

                Colorado’s businesses will have none other to blame then man at the helm.

                So, what does he do … we’ll all find out if he has the wedge to pull labor back.

                • DavidThi808 says:

                  They responded in kind to the absolutely horrible 47/49 by responding in kind. An eye for an eye does make the whole world blind. But not responding would eviscerate the unions.

                  As to your desire for a war between business and workers – keep in mind a lot more voters are employees than business owners. You might find that the voters decide the big problem is Jonathan Coors and his proposals – and put the blame where it lies.

                  I can see this play out in a way that the unions & Ritter come out well and the business community does not.

                  • Libertad says:

                    will make unions stronger and more responsive to their members needs.

                    “eviscerate the unions” would mean a change in the Labor Peace Act. 47 doesn’t touch the Act. Some might argue that 47 takes away closed shop agreements, however, we already know that closed shops are illegal by federal decree. 😉

                    So if anything 47 might comport federal and state bans on closed shops and bring the right-to-work that state employees have to all Coloradans.

                    On to David’s quote:

                    I can see this play out in a way that the unions & Ritter come out well and the business community does not.

                    David I know you value the capitalistic theory that job growth and payroll activity create taxes and well … jobs. Killing business is ass backwards as you have stated before. Negative GDP is never good; Unions and the Governor know this too.

            • DavidThi808 says:

              As the president of a high-tech start-up let me tell you what my values are:

              1) Make a profit. We don’t make money, we’re gone.

              2) Grow. For a high-tech company if you’re not growing, you’re on your way to failure (see item 1).

              3) Create a nice place to work. There’s more than enough lousy places to work – why have 1 more?

              And if we succeed on the above, then I create a growing number of jobs that pay well and I have some money when I retire.

              And 47/49/54 as well as the union led counter-fire hurt the above goals. They don’t help, they aren’t neutral – they hurt.

              This is why I think you have never managed a company, never been responsible for a payroll, never contributed squat. Because if so, you would understand this.

              I think you will also find that those backing 47/49/54 are by and large not businesses for a very simple reason – businesses understand that these are bad. Instead you are going to have people pouring money in based on their discredited personal philosophy. And they are trying to hurt our state in the process.

              Don’t pretend that you understand business – you clearly don’t.

              • Libertad says:

                I respect that. However, it’s tax, timing and risk that drive the economic decisions.

                So unions have threatened Risk with their anti-Colorado measures and some fold like the Chamber. Boy it did not take long for those humps to fold either.

                You really need to ask why they folded….when the U.S. Chamber is so determined to stop UnionUdall from going back to D.C. I mean can’t they get the U.S. Chamber to come out and oppose Right-to-Work?

                On to 49 and 54. I understand that Pay to Play (A-54) could be bad for sole sourcers (monopoly and inside governmnet dealers), but how does Payroll Protection (A-49) hurt business?

                Back to the premise, Risk. I think the unions and governmnet leaders understand tax, timing, and risk too. So do they Risk it all and bet the farm or not?

                Interestingly someone who has dealt with Ernie Duran said he is one crazy fucking SOB. So I doubt he backs down because … well as he said 50% of his members don’t value their union and would leave if given the choice.

                Ernie is a real lazy fucker too. He would rather spend forced union dues to threaten us all with anti-Colorado measures then be responsive to his members needs.

                If he opposed A-47 with forced union dues at least he’d be working in his own economic interest.

                The use of forced union dues to promote anti-Colorado measures should be reason enough for any Pub, Dem or Indie to vote for 47.

  5. One Queer Dude says:

       I thought he’s going to be the GOP candidate in ’10 to take on U.S. Rep Betsy Markey.  Here’s hoping he has to go through a very expensive and nasty (i.e., like CD 5 in ’06) primary against Taxasaurus Brophy and Mark Hillman.

  6. Disinterested17 says:

    So with Club 20’s opposition of Ritter’s Amendment 58 on oil and gas, is Ritter too facing a slow but sure political death?

    That’s just comical.

    But it is interesting to see how much of a threat you all think those two fellas are.  Why so tuned in on them?  It baffles me.

  7. Steph23 says:

    Amendment 52 does in fact have support from the Western Slope–Mesa County, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, and the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce have all endorsed Amendment 52.  In addition, Amendment 52 has endorsements statewide, including:

    Action 22

    Progressive 15

    Colorado Competitive Council

    Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance

    Douglas County Business Alliance

    Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce

    Colorado Retail Council

    Colorado Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association

    Colorado Association of Homebuilders

    Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association

    Colorado Ready Mixed Concrete Association

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