In a Denver Post column today, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis justifies his decision not to engage in debates with his primary opponents Josh Penry and Dan Maes: “I will work diligently over the next year to ensure that our party is unified, and that we avoid past mistakes where Republicans wrote the Democrats’ television commercials for them.”
So McInnis suggests not only that debates will inevitably lead to nasty personal infighting but also that party unity is his primary motivation for his no-debate strategy. However, was party unity his primary motivation:
- When during the heart of the 2006 general election the former Congressman lashed out at the staff of the Republican gubernatorial candidate: “Running for governor is big league, and big time, and it requires a lot of sophistication,” McInnis said. But handing the race over to the people running Beauprez’s campaign “is like putting a high school quarterback on the Denver Broncos and having him start the game”?
- When his strident 2004 comments were used in a July 2008 attack against U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer by his opponent Mark Udall?
- When in the week before the 2008 election he bailed out on Schaffer and declared “I would have beat Udall” and “Frankly, I have more difficulties with the right wing of my party then I do with taking on a Democrat. Udall was not the biggest threat I faced in the election”?
In other words, Scott McInnis is saying: Party unity for me, but not for thee. Rule of thumb: Behind every double standard lies an unconfessed single standard. In this case could the standard be “What’s good for Scott McInnis”? You decide.
What’s also telling … in his column today, McInnis implied that calls for debates on the issues are simply calls for “rhetorical mudslinging.” But given the evidence from the last two campaign cycles, it’s worth asking if the former Congressman is doing a little unnecessary projection.
Perhaps Scott McInnis’ views of Republican party unity have changed. If so, he owes us an explanation of when and how and why. Otherwise it looks exactly like a convenient excuse to avoid taking on Josh Penry and likely losing the debate.
Whatever the case, in running away from debates, McInnis ironically has become a punchline for the Democratic opposition:
“I think that Scott should get some practice before debating the governor so maybe he should start by debating Josh Penry first,” [Ritter campaign manager David] Kenney said.
Not a bad idea.