PARKER, Colo. (AP) - GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis on Monday refused to share the stage with his chief party rival and said he had no plans to debate him before next year's primary.
McInnis said he won't debate state Sen. John Penry because he doesn't want to give Democrats ammunition.
"We don't see any use in debates for Republicans in a family discussion taking shots at each other," McInnis said. "This is an in-the-family situation, and we want to talk about the issues and not give the Democrats the bylines for their commercials."
Some Republicans think primary battles in the 2004 U.S. Senate race between Pete Coors and Bob Schaffer and the 2006 gubernatorial race between Bob Beauprez and Marc Holtzman helped Democrats win both contests.
McInnis, Penry and candidate Dan Maes are competing to replace Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter.
Until Monday, Penry held out hope for at least one debate.
"If you can't stand in fro nt of a friendly crowd of businessmen, what are you going to do when the bullets are flying and the stakes are highest? It's silly," Penry said.
Maes, a former credit card company owner, said he wasn't even invited to the suburban Denver business forum on Monday. John Lay, president of the South East Business Partnership, called it an oversight.
A Denver Post analysis of contributions during the third quarter showed that Penry took in $140,000 from donors in their hometown of Grand Junction. That's almost five times more than the $30,000 collected by McInnis there.
Statewide though, McInnis collected more money - $545,000 compared with $400,000 for Penry - from July through September. McInnis, a six-term congressman, got support from many high-profile Republicans across the state like former U.S. attorney Troy Eid and Frances Owens, ex-wife of Gov. Bill Owens.
The two candidates live about three miles apart and have a history together. Penry once worked for McInnis, and when Penry was elected to the state Senate three years ago, he defeated McInnis' brother-in-law.
No one from Grand Junction has ever been elected governor of Colorado. Town officials said they can't remember the last time the city even had a viable candidate.
Penry said his advantage against McInnis in their hometown is an encouraging sign on the race overall.
"We're doing pretty well in Mesa County, a county that knows us both pretty well," Penry said.
A McInnnis spokesman responded by saying that, "If Josh wants to run for county commissioner, that's great."
"But this is a statewide race," said spokesman Sean Duffy.
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com