PPC already has reported to my great disappointment and astonishment that Josh Penry has decided to withdraw from the Colorado governor’s race. Penry’s friend and former state representative Rob Witwer followed a few moments ago with a short statement:
Josh did an outstanding job framing the debate and articulating the need for change. He raised the level of Republican campaigns in Colorado, and for that he deserves a huge amount of credit. He leaves behind a winning playbook that should help Scott McInnis achieve victory next November.
But more to the story emerges from behind the scenes on this MSNBC report:
A campaign source says that up-and-comer Josh Penry decided against a CO-GOV primary challenge against Scott McInnis, his former boss when McInnis was in Congress, because he was scared off, in part, by a 527 that was ramping up for McInnis that was set to go after Penry. He is sitting out the 2010 cycle and is NOT running for CO-3 despite the rumors….
The source added that Penry’s Name ID, they were seeing, was only about 15% to 20% statewide, and Penry felt that a 527 and a nasty political fight could have ruined or significantly damaged his reputation and hurt his political capital with Republicans. This path helps Penry, who’s only 33, build up political capital, the source said.
Sounds to me like the equivalent of political blackmail from Scott McInnis’ hit team. Here’s the irony: One candidate had decided to start talking about party unity. Another one dropped out in the actual hopes of preserving party unity. You can guess which one wins my respect.
See also Marc Ambinder’s ruminations in The Atlantic.
All in all, I’m sick to my stomach right now.