McInnis wishes Ritter the best |

McInnis wishes Ritter the best

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Scott McInnis

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – When Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced he would not be seeking re-election this year, reactions ranged from “speechless” to “saddened” among Republicans and Democrats across the state and nation.

Locally, Republicans were carefully optimistic about the announcement’s effect on the campaign of a Glenwood Springs native hoping to take Ritter’s place.

Ritter, a Democrat, announced on Wednesday that for personal reasons he will not be running for a second term in a race that most likely would have pitted him against former state and federal legislator Scott McInnis, the probable Republican nominee for governor.

The governor cited the toll that public life has taken on his family, and his desire to concentrate on running the state rather than running for office during his remaining year as governor. He dismissed speculation that low poll numbers influenced his thinking on whether or not to seek another term.

McInnis, a former Glenwood Springs police officer who has served in the Colorado General Assembly and in the U.S. Congress, on Wednesday issued a sympathetic statement on Ritter’s decision.

“Lori and I understand the pressures and sacrifices of public life and the toll that elected office can take on a family,” McInnis’ statement declared. “We wish the Governor, First Lady and the entire family all the best in the years ahead. We want to thank them for their service to Colorado.”

Turning to the topic of the coming electoral contest, the statement predicted, “This election is about the future of families all over the state, and how together, we can create quality jobs and put Colorado back on the path to prosperity.”

To do so, McInnis’ statement continued, “We must bring Colorado back from the toughest and most challenging economic times in decades through a fresh vision and new ideas that make our state first again.”

McInnis currently has a Republican challenger, Evergreen businessman Dan Maes.

In Glenwood Springs, friends and supporters of McInnis’ candidacy predicted that Ritter’s departure will not necessarily mean an easy run for their candidate.

“I’m kind of speechless, like everybody else,” remarked former Glenwood Springs mayor Don Vanderhoof, who was McInnis’ campaign manger during his runs for state office and introduced McInnis at the kickoff event of his gubernatorial campaign on Oct. 5 in Glenwood Springs.

“I think, as we go along, we’ll find out whether it’s going to make it easier or harder for Scott,” Vanderhoof said of Ritter’s withdrawal.

He said Democrats “might put up a good candidate that doesn’t have the baggage that Ritter had,” which could make McInnis’ task tougher than unseating the incumbent.

Shannon Stowe, vice-chair of the Garfield County Republican Party, allowed that Ritter has “done the best he could for Colorado” but added that “Scott is what Colorado needs. Scott’s got the momentum … has been campaigning and going to every neighborhood in Colorado that he can.”

As for Ritter’s timing, she said, he “should have done this announcement last spring” in order to give the Democrats more time to find a replacement candidate.

National and state leaders, as well as environmental organizations and other groups that considered Ritter an ally, expressed everything from support to sorrow over his decision.

“Bill Ritter has been a devoted servant of the public at great sacrifice to self and family. I have enjoyed our work together during my time as [Colorado] Attorney General, United States Senator and Secretary of the Interior. I wish him and his family all the best and thank him for his service,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, former U.S. Senator from Colorado and one whose name has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Ritter’s job.

Another possible successor, State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, issued a statement saying, in part, “I am saddened that he has decided not to seek re-election.”

Groups such as the Sierra Club’s Rocky Mountain Chapter, the Colorado Conservation Voters and others praised Ritter for his work to make the state a leader in the renewable energy industry and other “green” initiatives.

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