Penry endorses McInnis for Colorado governor |

Penry endorses McInnis for Colorado governor

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) – Rising Republican star Josh Penry endorsed former Congressman Scott McInnis for governor, a move Penry says allows the GOP to focus on defeating incumbent Bill Ritter and take back the Legislature.

Penry says taking back the state House and Senate, was “inconceivable” only three weeks ago.

Penry, a state senator, and McInnis, who served the 3rd Congressional District from 1993 to 2005, announced the endorsement in a Grand Junction park Sunday. Penry and McInnis had been expected to face each other in a brutal primary.

Penry dropped out of the race earlier this month saying Republicans need to make up ground lost in recent elections.

McInnis faces Evergreen businessman Dan Maes for the Republican nomination.

“What this does on a political level is allows Republicans to focus resources not just in beating (Democratic Gov.) Bill Ritter, but in taking back the state House and Senate,” Penry said. “Three weeks ago, those words were inconceivable. That’s where my effort is going to be.”

The move comes after two weeks of meetings to craft a conservative agenda for next year’s election cycle. Crafted by McInnis, Penry, former Congressman Tom Tancredo and Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams, the new agenda is expected to serve as the platform for dozens of Republicans seeking public office.

The plan, which includes a number of fiscally and socially conservative positions, is expected to be unveiled Monday morning in an event that will include former Gov. Bill Owens and House Minority Leader Mike May.

Of Penry’s endorsement, McInnis spokesman Sean Duffy said: “He’s putting the needs of Colorado ahead of his own campaign, and we’re uniting our party around a very strong set of governing principals that we think will greatly appeal to Coloradans.”

In a statement, Ritter said he is making his case for Colorado’s future by building a new energy economy, revitalizing schools and containing skyrocketing health care costs.

“Or we can go backward with Congressman McInnis and a 1990s strategy that has nothing new, no specific solutions and only vague discredited political rhetoric,” Ritter said.