DENVER Republican Josh Penry will exit the governor's race and might run for Congress against Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, The Washington Post reported Monday.
The news threw the Western Slope's Republican world into a frenzy. State Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, had been
considering a run against Salazar, and on Monday he confirmed to the Herald that he is "on the cusp" of
entering the race.
"I'm on the cusp of feeling literally compelled to get into the race," Tipton said, criticizing Salazar's "yes" vote
last weekend on the health care bill.
Tipton said he has an event scheduled in Grand Junction on Wednesday. He has not yet filed papers to legally declare
A spokesman for Penry did not return a call from the Herald, and Penry's campaign had not made a formal
announcement by Monday evening.
However, Penry's main rival for the GOP nomination, former Congressman Scott McInnis, did make a brief announcement.
"Scott McInnis has a tremendous amount of respect for Josh Penry and his team. Scott believes that Josh's future is
bright and today is his day. We will have further comment in the near future," said the unsigned release from
Tipton said he had not spoken to Penry since news broke of Penry's exit, but he accepted news of Penry's exit as
"I'm going to commend him on the honorable way he handled it," Tipton said.
Tipton said he counseled Penry and McInnis to avoid a nasty primary.
"Our folks were very concerned that we might win the battle and lose the war in terms of fighting each other in the
primary," Tipton said.
Penry's exit leaves McInnis as the clear GOP frontrunner to challenge Gov. Bill Ritter. Evergreen businessman Dan
Maes also is running.
Penry lagged McInnis in fundraising during the last quarter, with $400,286 to McInnis' $544,779.
Penry, of Grand Junction, is the state senate minority leader. At age 33, he is seen as a rising star in the
Republican Party, and until he got into the governor's race, his name often was mentioned as a possible candidate
Tipton, who owns a pottery and Southwest art business in Cortez, began his political career in 2006 with a challenge
to Salazar, who was then a freshman Congressman. Salazar beat Tipton in 2006 and won a third term in 2008. He serves
on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
Tipton ran for state House in 2008 and will start his second session in January.
Tipton ripped Salazar for Saturday's vote on national health care reform.
"With Salazar's vote, he abandoned the Third district with regard to health care," Tipton said, adding that the bill
was too expensive.
Salazar lauded health care reform in a Saturday news release.
"I have heard from thousands of my constituents and the overwhelming majority have called for real health care
reform. Today's vote brings us one step closer to that reform and it will not add to our national deficit," Salazar
The House bill costs $1.2 trillion over 10 years. But because it would bring about medical cost savings, it would
reduce the federal deficit over the same time period, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Bu "Original">dget Office.
Two Republicans are already challenging Salazar. Glenwood Springs District Attorney Martin Beeson and Bob McConnell
of Steamboat Springs have filed papers with the Federal Election Commission, but neither has raised much money.
Salazar has $719,215 in his campaign account, according to the latest FEC report.