State Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry ripped Democratic spending Wednesday but also let loose on fellow Republicans in a speech that signals what may come on the campaign trail.
The Grand Junction Republican spoke to the Lincoln Club of Colorado at the Denver Athletic Club about what he sees as a “grassroots uprising” among Republicans, who have had three disastrous election cycles in the state…
Penry, who is expected to announce his campaign for governor next month, criticized Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter but reminded Republicans why they ended up in the minority.
“Republicans in Congress doubled the national debt in a span of eight years. Shame on us,” he said. “The reality is we are in a political ditch in part for those errors.”
…Penry’s message hit home with Republicans at the Lincoln Club’s monthly meeting.
“I really liked how he owned up about how Republicans have screwed up,” said Cliff Dodge, a former state lawmaker and state Senate staffer.
Democrats who have followed Penry’s recent speeches say his mention of Congress is a subtle dig at former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, a Grand Junction Republican running for governor.
“I think these comments about Congress are clearly targeted at McInnis,” said Michael Huttner, director of the liberal group Progress Now.
And in today’s Durango Herald:
“Is anyone else here tired of the flimflam, mealy-mouthed Republican?” Penry said. “We need a contrast, not an echo chamber. If we go into 2010 and say, ‘They’re pretty good, but we can do a little better,’ we will never win.”
Penry has not formally declared as a candidate, but if he runs, he would have to beat his former boss, retired U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, in the Republican primary. Evergreen businessman Don Maes also has entered the GOP primary. The winner likely will face incumbent Gov. Bill Ritter.
Colorado Republicans have sustained losses in three consecutive election cycles, and Penry said it’s time for the party to acknowledge its past sins.
“Republicans, with a straight face, we have to acknowledge the errors of our own party over the last decade,” he said.
That includes a mushrooming of the deficit and earmarks from Congress. Although he didn’t call out McInnis by name, McInnis served in Congress in the GOP majority until January 2005 during a time of increasing deficits and spending…
Folks, if you’re not convinced by now that this is exactly the connection Penry wants you to make, well, you need your listening comprehension skills tested. As we’ve said, Penry is doing exactly the right things to capitalize on low GOP morale at opponent Scott McInnis’ expense. In fact, we’re not really sure what the best response for McInnis is at this point. Tom DeLay wasn’t so bad?