Candidate touts his experience in visit

Scott McInnis, Republican candidate for governor, made a campaign stop Sunday in Meeker, his wife’s hometown.

Scott McInnis, Republican candidate for governor, made a campaign stop Sunday in Meeker, his wife’s hometown.
MEEKER I Scott McInnis said there’s one major difference between him and his opponents.
Experience.
He has it, and they don’t.
“You can go to any one of my opponents, and not one of them, on either side, has ever been on a legislative committee. Never been involved in that process. They don’t have experience,” said the Republican candidate for governor.
McInnis came home Sunday. At least to the home of his wife, Lori.
“Many, many moons ago, I was up here at your golf course and I ran into this cute chick, and she fell in love with me the first day I met her. That’s not exactly what happened,” he joked.
McInnis and wife Lori (formerly Smith) appeared at a gathering of the local Tea Party group. Lori grew up on a ranch here and graduated from Meeker High School. Her brother Davey is chairman of the Rio Blanco County Republican Party.
The appearance by McInnis was “kind of a last-minute thing,” said Rob Baughman, spokesman for Meeker’s Tea Party group.
Lori McInnis visited her hometown in March, as part of a political meet and greet, but her husband wasn’t part of that trip.
McInnis, who is from Glenwood Springs, is a former state legislator and U.S. congressman. Neither of his opponents — political newcomer Dan Maes on the Republican side and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper on the Democratic side — has served in the Legislature.
With the public’s growing anti-incumbent mood, experience can be construed with being part of the establishment.
Not in McInnis’ book.
“That’s kind of like going into the emergency room up here with a heart attack,” he said. “You want to pick the right doctor, but you probably want to pick one who has some experience.”
McInnis believes he has the right prescription for what is ailing the state.
“This state is a mess,” he said, blaming the current Democratic administration for much of what is ailing Colorado. “They don’t have enough guts. They don’t have the backbone when tough constitutional issues come up. One of the papers called me something like being as close to Nazism as you can get, because I stood up immediately and said what the governor of Arizona did is exactly what the governor of Arizona should have done.”
McInnis’ comment about the recently passed immigration law in Arizona drew applause from the Tea Party crowd.
Sam Love, a college student from Meeker who wrote an opinion piece opposing Arizona’s immigration law that was published in last week’s Herald Times, said a full-scale political housecleaning would not serve in the nation’s best interests.
“I have been somewhat averse to the Tea Party’s calls for removing many government officials and replacing them with more ‘common citizens’ — as I see it — as this will inevitably leave the country in the hands of inexperienced, and possibly incapable leaders who will need time to acclimate to their new surroundings,” said Love, who attended Sunday’s meeting to hear what McInnis had to say. “Some change in leadership is certainly manageable, but full-fledged expulsion of our government representatives advocated by many Tea Party groups does not seem like a logical solution to our current problems. Scott is able to relate to those within our 3rd Congressional District and the rest of the state, as well as bring much-needed experience to the office of governor if elected. His experience in business will undoubtedly attract some citizens most concerned with the current state of the economy in Colorado. Of course, I disagree with his positions on some issues, namely abortion and immigration. It is my belief that the government should not be involved in limiting personal decisions for citizens of the United States. … Overall, however, I think Scott brings a significant amount of experience and knowledge to this gubernatorial election.”
Sam Love’s mother, Ginny, who grew up with Lori Smith McInnis, said Scott McInnis’ message would resonate with local voters.
“I was very comforted in what Scott had to share. His experience in the political world is invaluable. At this level it is imperative that we have a governor who is educated at all levels,” Ginny Love said. “Having Scott be from the Western Slope is something our state needs. It’s not just about Denver. Scott will see that all areas of the state receive equal representation.”
Lois Sampson, one of the organizers of the local Tea Party group, also liked what she heard.
“I was impressed with Scott McInnis. I like where he stands on the issues. His voting records shows that he does what he says. I believe he will listen to the people of Colorado and do what is right for us,” said Sampson, adding the Meeker Tea Party hasn’t endorsed any candidates yet, but may do so at its next meeting.
McInnis blamed Gov. Bill Ritter, who is not running for re-election, for pushing for stiffer rules and regulations that discouraged oil and gas activity in the state.
“This state, under the current leadership we have, decided they wanted to go on the offense against an industry — the exploration of natural gas, which is critical for our future. The same thing with our coal out here,” McInnis said. “Out here, we rely on agriculture, we rely on water, we rely on minerals, energy and coal. Tourism is a big thing out here, but our fundamental economy is all those things I just mentioned.”
By “out here,” McInnis was referring to an understanding of rural Colorado. A perspective he offers, he said, and again his opponents don’t.
“I’m the only candidate running for governor from rural Colorado. Obviously, metropolitan areas are important, but I’ve always thought a rural person can understand urban issues easier than an urban person can understand rural issues,” McInnis said.
In spite of the down economy and other problems facing the state, McInnis said he sees a bright future for Colorado, but believes new leadership is needed, leadership he can provide.
“The future of the state is great, but it needs management, and that’s what we’re missing,” he said.
Which can be summed up by that one word — experience.
“I’m the only out there who has put together a detailed plan of what we need to get from this point to that point of what I call prosperity,” McInnis said. “On the Republican side, there’s only one person with a record. There’s only one person who has ever taken a vote. There’s only one person who has ever been in a campaign.
“That’s me.”