The big local political news for the weekend, of course, was the worst-kept secret: Republican Josh Penry officially threw his hat into the ring to run for governor in 2010. By all honest admissions, Penry’s entry into the race has been well-executed and well-timed.
First glimpses on the campaign trail indicate the strong delivery of a clear, consistent message: 1) incumbent Democrat Bill Ritter’s misguided philosophy and lack of fiscal leadership have contributed greatly to an unfriendly economic climate and pain in the wallet for many average Coloradans, and 2) Penry’s own record of effective leadership in the areas of fiscal responsibility, expanded energy options, and education reform qualifies him to take Ritter’s place.
If he keeps it up, the 33-year-old state senate Republican leader will effectively downplay the only knock against his candidacy: his youth and apparent inexperience.
The recent press surrounding Ritter and his actions have only enhanced Penry’s timing. Hiring his lawyer friends with taxpayer dollars at six times the cost offered by the Attorney General’s office just to tell Ritter how he can spend taxpayer dollars. Yes, seriously.
And then there’s the Ritter FASTER car tax with its onerous late fees that has hit motorists and residents across Colorado like a slap in the face this month. (Over at the PPC, the Peripatetic Pundit ably explains the failings of this Democrat-owned policy.)
In addition, as an excellent Charles Ashby piece in today’s Rocky Mountain Independent rehashes, Ritter has found a way to alienate plenty within his own party.
Bill Ritter has kicked the door of opportunity to make himself a one-term governor wide open. And Josh Penry is off to a great start in seizing that opportunity.
Scott McInnis and Dan Maes are out there on the Republican challenger side, too. But so far neither of them has yet to demonstrate the complete wherewithal to stand as a formidable candidate. There are many months of politics to play before the primary process sorts it out, but you really have to like Penry’s chances so far — both to secure the nomination and to unseat Ritter.