McInnis pleased with Ref. A defeat |

McInnis pleased with Ref. A defeat

Dennis Webb
GSPI News Editor

U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis praised Colorado voters on both sides of the Continental Divide Thursday for soundly rejecting the Referendum A water bonding measure.

Two-thirds of voters cast ballots against Referendum A, which would have made $2 billion available to finance water projects.

McInnis, R-Grand Junction, said he was surprised that voters in eastern Colorado, and particularly its metropolitan areas, came out in force against the referendum’s approach to water storage needs.

“I think they determined it should be addressed on a statewide basis and not on a very targeted basis, where it puts all the kings, queens and aces in one hand and nothing in the other hand,” McInnis said.

McInnis supports water storage projects as long as the basin of origin receives fair mitigation. He said Referendum A would have given the Eastern Slope an unfair advantage over the Western Slope on water matters.

“We’ve had kind of a check and balance through a number of things in the past,” he said. “I thought this referendum would take that away and help only one side of the family.”

McInnis said Referendum A failed despite a massive voter advantage in eastern Colorado and a $4 million campaign war chest amassed by supporters.

In opposing Referendum A, McInnis put himself at odds with many influential members of his own party, including Gov. Bill Owens. McInnis said his opposition to the water measure was not well received in some quarters.

“The message was sent to me, ‘If you have statewide interests, you need to moderate your opposition,'” he said.

McInnis is stepping down from Congress at the end of next year and is leaving open the possibility of running for governor in 2006. Owens will be forced out of office at the end of that year by term limits.

McInnis said he told his critics that if he backed down at all on Referendum A, “it would be the clearest dereliction of duty of the person holding this congressional seat that you have ever seen.”

“I don’t represent the state; I represent this district,” said McInnis, whose 3rd Congressional District includes the Western Slope, San Luis Valley and Pueblo.

He said he understood why some Eastern Slope politicians supported Referendum A, given that region’s interest in the comparatively plentiful water supply of western Colorado.

McInnis said the disagreement between him and Owens was probably the first one they ever had. But he said their relationship remains strong. He said he talked to Owens a week ago, and they agreed “to let the best man win, as the saying goes.”

Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516

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