DENVER
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Josh Penry, Mike Coffman Butt Heads Over Pinon Canyon

Long a hot-button political issue in Colorado, the proposed Pinon Canyon Army Base expansion seems now to be dividing Republicans heading into the 2010 election cycle. Don Bendell, a supporter of Gubernatorial Candidate Josh Penry, penned an op-ed piece in the Colorado Springs Gazette defending Penry from criticism he's faced for opposing Pinon Canyon expansion. The article was a direct response to an article written in the Colorado Statesman by Republican Congressman Mike Coffman (CD-6), who accused Penry of putting politics above the interest of the military.

Penry's opponent for the Republican nomination, Scott McInnis, who supports expansion of the Army base, was recently criticized by Republican State Senator Ken Kester for his position. Kester told the Pueblo Chieftain "I understand where McInnis is coming from, but I also know that he's on the wrong side of that issue," Kester said. "It absolutely is a property-rights issue, whether Scott wants to admit it nor not."

The Army proposed tripling the size of the current Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in February, 2007, a plan that has been vehemently opposed by many local ranchers who fear their land will be taken over to facilitate the expansion. The Colorado Legislature has passed legislation barring the Army from selling state land to the Army for the expansion.