Rumors Swirl of Anschutz’s Involvement In Penry Withdrawal

Although the first reports of the withdrawal of gubernatorial candidate Josh Penry from the GOP primary claimed his sudden exit from the race was due to “personal reasons,” multiple outlets have turned today to a, if you will, more plausible narrative–that Penry didn’t leave the race willingly. The Denver Post’s updated report today:

Faced with the threat of an independent political machine opposing him and the prospect of lackluster fundraising, Republican state Sen. Josh Penry of Grand Junction has decided to end his campaign for governor…

Penry, 33, was facing fundraising challenges, especially with big-money names in the state who had launched a political committee aimed at anyone opposing McInnis. The nonprofit committee, known as a 501(c)(4), legally permits donors to contribute unlimited amounts of money with limited disclosure.

That message was sent to Penry.

That’s consistent with the story being reported pretty much everywhere today. We’ve heard the message that the Republican powers-that-be intended to clear the field for Scott McInnis was delivered to Penry by kingpin funder Phil Anschutz personally, on behalf of other principal GOP donors like Alex Cranberg and American Furniture Warehouse CEO Jake Jabs.

That’s how it goes sometimes in the rough-and-tumble world of politics, but there are some lingering questions about this that could be troublesome for McInnis. For one thing, might this “independent committee” that frightened Penry into submission have any relationship to “my 527″ from McInnis’ infamous voicemail message? Since McInnis has already admitted far more than he should about knowledge of supposedly uncoordinated resources…how much did he know about Anschutz and friends threatening Penry over the weekend?

As interesting (and even legally problematic) as that all may be, we think the risk in this story for McInnis is simpler–he’s not the choice of the conservative base, the base’s candidate is the one who got punked. By McInnis’ well-heeled supporters. Anything that feeds the narrative of rich insiders making the base’s primary choice for them is extremely dangerous to McInnis politically, and risks a backlash that money cannot control (see: Dede Scozzafava).

57 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. cunninjo says:

    While the back room dealings that have forced Mr. Penry out of the Governor’s race are dirty and represent everything wrong with government, I think it is a wise political move for Republicans.

    Looking at the 2 Gubernatorial elections earlier this month, we saw 2 Republicans running on a fairly moderate platform. The one federal race that featured a far-right ‘Tea Party’ candidate went to the moderate democrat in New York.

    It seems, despite what the ‘Tea Baggers’ proclaim, they really don’t have a very strong movement. Josh Penry was just too far to the Right to beat Bill Ritter. His history of extreme partisan rhetoric in the State Senate would likely have turned away independent voters.

    The people want an end to the ridiculous sideshow that our government has become. McInnis, though not much of a moderate, can at least sell it better than Penry.

  2. One Queer Dude says:

       But the newspaper reports were unclear as to who was in the 527.  (I know, technically it’s not called a 527 at the state level, but you all know what I’m talking about. The independent education group.)  

      I figured they were reassembling the Trailhead Folks, and they were gonna do to Penry this time what they did to Holtzy last time around.

  3. WesternSlopeThought says:

    He doesn’t have the cajones to stand up against them?  His bending over for them and quaking in his boots shows exactly what he is made of. A jello spine. Geesh, if Penry would have just listened to me from the beginning, I would have saved him a lot of embarrassment.  Or he could have heeded MAH’s warnings.

    “I hate those fucking kingmakers, I am not going to listen to those fuckers.”  –MAH

    No wonder he refuses to endorse McFruitcake.

    • Ralphie says:

      If quarterbacks liked getting hit, they’d be wide receivers.

      • …I really really wish I hadn’t used such expletives to make that quoted point above…

        …overall though from what I learned, if you have a message that you truly believe in and you can deliver it passionately, you WILL find an audience and you’ll probably find enough money to make it viable….

        …the achilles heel of many politicians is that they view money-men as the gateway towards victory – that’s the wrong assumption – money can’t buy a good message, passion, and energy

        …but a good message, with energy and passion can bring enough money to get it out

        Kingmakers? Kingmakers do NOT control politics – your relationship with your community and state is what controls politics, and the endorsement of kingmakers cannot give you a better relationship

        ….that’s my two cents based on what I’ve learned

        • Jambalaya says:

          Did he quit because he had a bad message, poor energy, and tepid passion?  That would seem to validate your two cents’ worth.

          Or, did he quit because, contrary to your two cents, having a good message, energy, and passion is simply not enough to get out your message and find enough money to be viable?

          • You’re just gonna have to take what you can get out of it

            I’ve gotten to know Senator Penry pretty well and I find him to be very sharp – I hope he stays active in the Party, as he is a great candidate

            Good luck to Congressman McInnis and team

            • Jambalaya says:

              …I will assume that you believe you are correct in this case.  Which means your two cents’ worth is accurate.  Which means that you think Penry’s campaign sucked (and that is why it failed).  Which, of course, contradicts your (obviously) false statement that you think he is a great candidate.  You have trouble being straightforward, don’t you?  

            • WesternSlopeThought says:

              weren’t you ushered to the door by uberCon kingmakers, crushing your senate bid dreams?  You must feel Penry’s pain.  But isn’t that what the Republican Party has become in Colorado?   …every decision made by a corrupt oligarchy, wanting to advance their own interests, not Colorado’s.

              I’ve come to believe that you are really a blue dog D at heart, MAH. Have you had a serious conversation with your family about ya’ll defrosting and entering the 21st C?  Surely, you understand that today’s R Party is nothing close to the party it was when you knocked on doors with your RR tippy cup.

              • Dude – I’ve got red-Republican-blood pumping through my veins and I’m very proud of that – proof is my running hard for my Party in 2008, when the deck was stacked hard against us

                Yes – I have some liberal tendencies on social issues, but you’ll find no Republican who is more ardent in his/her support of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and limited government than myself – seriously – if Jon Caldara and Big Daddy Doug Bruce had a baby, they would birth me

                As far as the SD8 senate race goes….. if I had known then what I know now, I would’ve handled things much much differently…. that said, Al White is doing a solid job as my State Senator and I was proud to endorse him in 2008

                The lessons I learned from SD8 and HD56 will serve me very well in the future, especially in my evaluation of when to run again and why

                I’m excited that my best days are ahead – the lessons from 2008 will guarantee that

          • MADCO says:

            ergo hominem factus rectu

        • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

          …as long as people like Josh Penry think money trumps those other tools, money will trump. Because it will cause people to unnecessarily give up.

  4. bhusher says:

    I hope the far right Republican base feels as alienated in this statewide race. Meanwhile the far-right has taken the school board in Douglas County and the city council in Longmont. The ensuing battle will be interesting.

    Now I just wonder if anyone on the right is pissed off enough to put a Tea Party candidate in the mix???

  5. paulrosenthal says:

    Let me get this straight.  Ritter does Anschutz a favor by appointing his former employee to the U.S. Senate.  Anschutz rewards Ritter by kicking out Ritter’s opponent’s opponent.  This either doesn’t make sense or Anschutz is very ungrateful.  Maybe that’s just politics.

  6. mtnhigh says:

    “…politics is fun until it gets political…”

    Ain’t that right, Josh?

  7. ClubTwitty says:

    Penry email to supporters (and me)…

    Dear Friends,

    As you have no doubt heard, I made the difficult choice to leave the race for Governor – a race that me, my family, my team and so many supporters poured our hearts and souls into for nearly 6 months.

    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.  Needless to say, I’ll be on the phone all day for a couple days saying, with all the sincerity of a grateful heart, thank you to those who stood with us.

    Word jumped out quick [sic] yesterday; that’s politics I guess.  And that’s OK. Truth is, it is a tough business. I know that. In fact, one of the reasons our campaign was making such fantastic progress is I relish the fight. Maybe it’s the old quarterback in me – I live for the fray, for the arena. You don’t run for Governor at 33 by being bashful or timid.

    But I’m also a person who keeps his eyes wide open – a good pilot is always looking at the instruments. And in the aftermath of last Tuesday’s crushing Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia, this much became certain: Republicans stand poised to make-up much of the ground we’ve lost, as the American people are being reminded in a profound way of the perils of big government once more.

    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?

    On this much let me be clear: I think I’m the right guy for the job, and I’ve never walked away from a fight in my life. And the thought of building a team of smart and innovative conservatives to fix the mess that Bill Ritter has made kept me motivated every day. Like I said, I live for the fray, and I was eager to serve as Governor – to get this state moving in the right direction again.

    But I’m not the only candidate who can beat Bill Ritter, and the fact is that the road to the nomination is long and expensive – a diversion of resources at a time when the fight should be focused on defeating Bill Ritter and those who have supported his agenda.   And other facts are just as apparent: Scott McInnis’ tenure in Congress gave him a built-in advantage coming into this race. And rather than spending the next several months and millions fighting to close that gap, we decided to step back and live to fight another day.

    In the last two days I have had two meetings with Scott McInnis.  No deals, no job offers, no promises, no endorsements.  The conversation was meaningful.  We don’t agree on everything, but he’s ready for the job.   But before I make any decision to endorse, I want to know more about the agenda that he’s going to bring to the office.  I want to know how he will govern. Republicans are hungry for reform-minded leadership – a conservative agenda that addresses the challenges of our day — and I’ve encouraged Scott to embrace just that.

    That’s what ran Democrats out of the Governor’s mansions in New Jersey and Virginia.  That’s the message that will defeat Bill Ritter too.

    In the coming days, after we’ve had more time to talk in a detailed way about his governing vision, I’ll have an announcement about who I am going to endorse.   From there it will be the job of the voters to decide.  For my part, I will do everything to ensure that conservatives have a meaningful choice – to ensure that the agenda projected by the Republican nominee is limited, disciplined, focused government.  

    Bill Ritter is an honorable man, but his policies are the living, breathing embodiment of the failed big government philosophies of yesterday. These are the same failed policies that were run out of Trenton and Richmond last Tuesday. And next November, they will be run out of Denver too.

    Governor, that dog don’t hunt.

    But that’s a debate for the coming months.  As you can see, it is a debate that I’m not walking away from.  

    Because the fight still matters.  The cause remains.

    It’s a fight we can win.  Together, it’s a fight we will win.  

    So let’s go make it happen.

    With gratitude,

    Josh Penry

    There was quite a bit more, this is the abridged version.  So what is the real story about why Mr. Penry walked away?

  8. WestSloper says:

    Penry was probably counting on 501c4 support from his fracking friends in Mesa and Garfield Counties, but McDrill had those guys lined up before Penry was out of diapers.

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account


You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.