In a statement emailed to supporters Josh Penry said he is backing out of his bid for the GOP nomination for Governor because he didn't want to jeopardize the party's chances of retaking the Governorship.
And the opportunity for a resurgence for our Grand Old Party in America and in Colorado posed a predicament for me: do I spend the next 9 months engaging in a $5 million battle of attrition against Scott McInnis -- believing that I'd be a better Governor than Scott, but knowing just as surely that Scott would be far superior to 4 more years of Bill Ritter? Or do I step back, wait to charge the Gubernatorial hill another day, and instead put my energy, focus and network to use helping to beat Bill Ritter and make sure Republicans running for other offices can ride the tidal wave too?
Penry also expressed surprise that word of his departure from the race got out before his official announcement:
Politics being what it is, some yahoo got word of my decision and decided to tell the Washington Post before I could tell many of my closest friends -- or even my employer at Home Loan and Investment, Company.
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Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post reports today that Josh Penry will drop his bid for the GOP nomination for governor and endorse his opponent, Scott McInnis:
Political chatter in the immediate aftermath of Penry's decision suggested he might be considering a run against 3rd district Rep. John Salazar (D) who won the Western Slope seat when McInnis retired in 2004. Salazar's seat is one of 49 held by Democrats that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) carried in 2008. (McCain won it 50 percent to 48 percent for President Barack Obama.) But, Republicans already have a candidate -- state Rep. Scott Tipton -- they are high on in the race.
Penry, the Minority Leader in the Colorado Senate, was thought to be a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination, but lacked McInnis's fund-raising connections. He raised over $400,000 dollars in the third quarter of 2009, putting him second behind McInnis's $545,000.
Update: Mark Ambinder of the Atlantic monthly writes that this development is surprising due to the fact that "Penry is an archetype of a credible, electable conservative -- just the type of person you'd think the GOP would want to support -- or would want to NOT oppose at the risk of angering conservative activists." Ambinder speculates that national GOP leaders may have wanted Penry out because they view McInnis as more electable.
Update: The Denver Post quotes former Republican State Rep. and Penry supporter Rob Witwer as saying "It is more important for Josh that the Republicans win the governor's race than that he win the race."
The Post also cited unnamed sources saying that Penry quit the race for "personal reasons."
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