As the Pueblo Chieftain reports:
Former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis jumped into the fight over expanding the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site this week, sending a letter to Gov. Bill Ritter urging him to veto legislation that would stop the Army from buying any Colorado State Board land around the 238,000-acre training range.
McInnis, a Republican who represented the 3rd Congressional District for 12 years, has resurfaced in recent weeks as a likely GOP candidate for governor.
The legislation in question, HB1317, was sponsored by state Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, and state Sen. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, and it orders the Colorado State Land Board not to sell any of its property around Pinon Canyon to the Army. Those small parcels amount to about 20 percent of the additional 100,000 acres the Army wants to buy in Las Animas County.
Pinon Canyon is in the 3rd District and the current congressman, Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., continues to oppose the expansion. But not McInnis…
We’re stunned at this move by McInnis. The Army’s proposed expansion of the Pinon Canyon training site is one of the most unpopular ideas to hit south of the Arkansas River in…well, we don’t even know. A really long time. Not even ousted Rep. Marilyn Musgrave was so foolish as to side with the Army against the tightly organized ranchers and other stakeholders down there. We assume McInnis’ statement was all about placating Fort Carson-area Republicans (basically the only people in the state who support the Army’s expansion plans)–useful in a primary, but he’s not in such risk with the conservatives that he needed to do this for general election positioning.
And that’s the thing–for the general election, taking this position is absolutely disastrous for McInnis. He’s also throwing away a tremendous opportunity for shoring up Republican prospects in southern Colorado. It’s no secret that many of those most disaffected by Governor Bill Ritter’s appointments for Senator and Secretary of State are in this region of the state.
Bottom line? Way to go, Scooter–he just flushed a golden opportunity down the toilet faster than you can say “eminent domain.”