Josh Penry is in his first term as state senator after a term in the House, but he has quickly become a leader in the Colorado Legislature. A graduate of Mesa State College, where he quarterbacked the football team, the Mesa County Republican in his mid-30s confirmed Saturday that he wants his party's nomination for governor. Gov. Bill Ritter will complete his first term in 2010.
With both houses of the Colorado Legislature in Democratic hands, Penry's legislative accomplishments have been few. But he has championed issues that are favorites of many Coloradans. With enlarged and additional reservoirs he would store more water for the state, and he would ensure that multiple uses are protected on public lands. He is strong in his defense of private property rights and on withholding public benefits from illegal immigrants. Penry is a strong fiscal conservative, has no patience with talk of new taxes and has been vocal in his criticism of the recently added state employees.
Penry has been a hard worker for what he believes in and is skilled at the legislative process. He can bring people together and move legislation along.
While The Durango Herald's editorial board does not always agree with Penry's positions, his candidacy will add greatly to the political debate that always benefits the state and its citizens.
Penry is competing against former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, himself a former successful member of the state Legislature, and businessman Dan Maes. McInnis is a high-energy campaigner who loves politics, dominated his opponents for the House seat and then surprised his supporters when he joined a Colorado law firm rather than run for subsequent terms in Congress. In recent months, he has been speaking and writing on selected state issues, such as the national economy and the death penalty.
Penry likely will be more informed on the nuances of current state issues than McInnis, particularly the budget shortfall, but McInnis, more experienced and most recently with a view from Washington, may be more visionary in his initiatives and proposals for leading the state. Western Coloradans benefit from having both individuals from the Western Slope.
With two strong and determined candidates for the Republican Party's nomination, the coming year should produce some good debates about the state's future.