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The Rising: Josh Penry's Case in Colorado

If Republicans are going to begin re-building their party, Colorado in 2010 is a good place to look for the foundational bricks to be laid.

And Josh Penry, a fast rising state legislator, might be the best bricklayer the state GOP has at the moment.

Penry, at 33, is running for the right to challenge Gov. Bill Ritter (D). And, as befits a young upstart, he's not shy about admitting the mistakes the party -- both in Washington and in Colorado -- has made in the past few years.

"Republicans have lost credibility as a governing party," said Penry in an interview with the Fix as part of our "Rising" series looking at up and coming politicians. "At the state level we weren't relevant on the nuts and bolts questions of governing."

The Rising

Penry believes those failures and not a fundamental change in the makeup of the Colorado electorate is responsible for the Democrats now controlling both U.S. Senate seats, the governor's mansion, five of the seven Congressional districts and the state House and state Senate.

He insisted that Colorado remains a "center right" electorate, pointing to the failure of recent progressive ballot initiatives as evidence that the state's voters haven't changed all that much over the past few elections.

The real problem, according to Penry, is that "we have a real credibility problem with a center right electorate."

How does Penry aim to bridge that disconnect? By embracing a sort of small-bore conservatism focused on delivering results and keeping government in its proper place. Penry calls it the "notion of limited, focused disciplined government that isn't all things to all people but does the things it should do well."

That approach -- results oriented, reform minded -- is directly in line with the successful template built by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R). Daniels, who continues to insist he has no interest in a run for president in 2012, was able to turn the national dynamic (a moribund Republican party that had run out of ideas in power vs a young, ideas-driven Democratic party) on its head in his 2004 and 2008 races.

Penry is -- perhaps without even being aware of it -- seeking to implement that same blueprint in a Mountain West state that has been under Democratic control for the last several years. "They've overplayed their hand," Penry said of Colorado Democrats.

While Penry is seen as the boy wonder of Colorado Republican politics -- he was elected to the state House in 2004, the state Senate in 2006 and currently serves as the chamber's minority leader -- he is not without opposition in the Republican primary.

Penry's biggest obstacle is former Rep. Scott McInnis, who, after talking about running statewide for years has finally pulled the trigger. Penry and McInnis have a long history together as the former worked in the latter's Congressional office before returning to the state -- he was born in Grand Junction -- to run for office. And, in 2006, Penry beat out McInnis' brother-in-law in a Republican primary for the state Senate.

McInnis is almost certain to make Penry's age a major issue of the campaign, arguing that his opponent lacks the years of political experience required to lead a state. Penry, of course, will -- ala Barack Obama -- attempt to use his age in his favor, making the case that new ideas are needed to rescue the Republican party in the state.

Penry casts the 2010 gubernatorial election as Republicans' best chance to show Coloradans that his party is not only capable of governing but can do it better than their Democratic counterparts.

But, they won't get the chance if they simply try to destroy Ritter. "As weak as Bill Ritter has become, Republicans won't win unless we have a compelling vision for how we are going to govern," said Penry. "We have never said in a compelling way what we would do if we get a chance to govern."

If Penry wins his party's nod, expect him to draw lots and lots of attention from national Republicans looking for fresh faces who can demonstrate an ability to win in potential 2012 swing states.

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 9, 2009; 12:26 PM ET
Categories:  The Rising  
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Comments

"He insisted that Colorado remains a "center right" electorate, pointing to the failure of recent progressive ballot initiatives as evidence that the state's voters haven't changed all that much over the past few elections.

The real problem, according to Penry, is that "we have a real credibility problem with a center right electorate."

How does Penry aim to bridge that disconnect? By embracing a sort of small-bore conservatism focused on delivering results and keeping government in its proper place. Penry calls it the "notion of limited, focused disciplined government that isn't all things to all people but does the things it should do well."

That approach -- results oriented, reform minded -- is directly in line with the successful template built by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R)."

Reading between the lines he is another Goldwaterite who knows the code words, but at heart is just another conservative who can't quite get it into his head that the CENTER is where it is at and he isn't anywhere close.

Consider that at least there are democrats whom we call liberals. Name a Republican not in trouble with his "base" whom ANYONE calls a moderate. None are called progressive, ever.

There HAVE to be moderates out there with a yen, and the Yen, to run for office. When they realize that there is a big gap between the Right end of the Democratic segment of the political spectrum and the slightly to the left of Joe McCarthy wing of the Republican party History will begin to move, and after a couple of losing efforts in elections, (the Dems DO currently seem to have that slightly right of center contingent) they will have shouldered their way into respectability and begin to pick up seats and Governorships.

Republicans like Perry, who WON'T admit that the electorate might have moved on them will fade into the sunset where they belong.

Posted by: ceflynline | September 9, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Forgot the "Palin in 2012" mention. There we go.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | September 9, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

"If Republicans are going to begin re-building their party, Colorado in 2010 is a good place to look for the foundational bricks to be laid.

And Josh Penry, a fast rising state legislator, might be the best bricklayer the state GOP has at the moment."
__________

"GOP comeback" talking point. Check.

Free pub in Washington Post for obscure Great W- Hope GOP candidate in obscure district nobody cares about. Check.
___________

"The Rising Series to date:

Josh Penry(R)
Jim DeMint(R)
Rob Portman(R)
Steve Israel(D) <---look! bipartisanship!
Mitch Daniels(R)
John Ensign(R)
Jeb Bush(R)
Mitt Romney(R)
Jon Huntsman(R)

Posted by: mikeinmidland | September 9, 2009 1:04 PM"

M-I-M, is there a pattern here? :)


Posted by: broadwayjoe | September 9, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

(*guffaw*)

I've turned down management promotions because it would feel like being buried alive.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 9, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Kind of loses its charm when you hit your 20s.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Isn't this true of code checking too? Most grown-ups move on to systems design, management, business development, etc., unless they are too busy blogging or chicken choking to get noticed at work. Of course, utter stupidity and flagrant moronic anti-social behavior could also be the culprit. eithe way it is certainly a sign of arrested development. the evidence is clear.

Posted by: snowbama | September 9, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I was just more interested in the biological sciences more than anything else.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 9, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Looks like he is one to keep an eye on

Posted by: hootie1776 | September 9, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Kind of loses its charm when you hit your 20s. I won my state science fair with an experiment on agoraphobic mice.

==

Cool.

Now that you mention it, when I graduated from school to making actual money I also graduated from water-soluble transition metal salts to precious stones ... like tanzanite.

Same attraction, though.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 9, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

"Ah but growing them from supersaturated solution and getting perfect colored geometric shapes is a blast (and it got me into the international science fair and second place in my state's)

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite"

Kind of loses its charm when you hit your 20s. I won my state science fair with an experiment on agoraphobic mice.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 9, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

If you look at the crowds at the Town Halls and the Tea Party protests, you see the Republican demographic--white, over 50 and scared to death of the future.

==

Angry racists feeling betrayed, irrelevant, and forgotten.

Two out of three.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 9, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Penry may be right that his state is still "center right." Unfortunately, a growing number of Colorado's voters are Hispanics who may share some truly conservative values (e.g., the importance of faith and family) with Republicans, but know that a party dominated by the likes of John Boehner ain't exactly welcoming to brown skinned folks. I have said it many times--what is really sending the Republicans into the electoral wilderness is demographics. Hispanics, Asians and the vast majority of young people of all races simply don't identify as Republicans. If you look at the crowds at the Town Halls and the Tea Party protests, you see the Republican demographic--white, over 50 and scared to death of the future.

Posted by: jhpurdy | September 9, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

pumping up the longshot for a better horserace

Bingo!

On AM radio, Jim Rome made a career and really changed talk radio a decade ago with one line, "Have a take, don't suck." It meant he wanted well supported opinions. Did not matter what they were, just well supported opinions.

Here, well a lot of the people who post here (exceptions exist), are not FOS. They think, they read and they can write too.

ceflyine for example, always seems to make me laugh.
katem1 (?sp) is hard corps, like military tough.
sverigrabb is above the fray

The liberal wing is flawlessly fecund.

You know, this is entertainment. So the Republican Rising thing is nothing but a pheromone. Chris is a foil for the comments section and he knows it and he panders to us, seriously.

Posted by: shrink2 | September 9, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mike on that -- just a little disclosure. Dionne has an excellent piece today. I'm liking him better and better -- starting to read every column. He's one of the few who doesn't have the Beltway Bubble mindset:

"Out popped Jim Greer, the Florida Republican chairman, who accused the president of trying to “indoctrinate America's children to his socialist agenda."

In a normal world, the media would have asked Greer for proof of such a wild charge and, since he didn’t have any, his press release would have gone into the circular file.
But, no, the media is so petrified of being criticized for being “liberal” that it chose to take a lunatic charge seriously and helped gin up this phony controversy."

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2009/09/staying_in_school_and_the_soci.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Posted by: drindl | September 9, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I figured this out during a crystallography course I took. Those papers are filled with stereograms. I pretty much spent the lectures perfecting the technique and deciding that crystallography is the most boring thing in the world.

==

Ah but growing them from supersaturated solution and getting perfect colored geometric shapes is a blast (and it got me into the international science fair and second place in my state's)

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 9, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

OK, shrink, maybe I am the last person here to recognize that CC favors Republicans. Whether that is personal, or just pumping up the longshot for a better horserace, I don't know.

==

When the column is all but spraying saliva in Disney-eyed excitement over snoozelords like Mitch Daniels or Mitt Romney, or playing up the electoral chances of wrapups like Sarah "inspired by the perseverant to quit my job" Palin, I really don't see how you could remain in denial.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 9, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

OK, shrink, maybe I am the last person here to recognize that CC favors Republicans. Whether that is personal, or just pumping up the longshot for a better horserace, I don't know.

If he called it "Republican Rising" I'd feel better about it.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | September 9, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

These folks don't really seem to understand they lost the election. It's too funny -- telling Obama to be 'humble' -- you mean like Bush always was? Puhleeze. He is really pretty close to saying Obama is uppity. He's from Georgia, so he doesn't understand that outside of PlantationLand, that term is offensive.

"Saxby Chambliss, whose name I haven’t heard once in the health care debate this year, has some advice for Obama:

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said today that, because of angry town hallers and the like, President Obama should show “humility” when he speaks to Congress Wednesday night.
“What you’re seeing is folks on my side anxious to see what the president has to say tomorrow night,” Chambliss said. “I think he’s gonna have to express some humility based on what we’ve seen around the country this August and that’s not his inclination.”

Or what? You’ll all vote no? Dick Armey and Freedomworks will pay for a wingnut bus across the country? Sarah Palin’s ghostwriter will scribble something barely legible on Facebook? You’ll hold your breath? What exactly are you all going to do? You’ve already cranked up the crazy to max.

You know, there is a really rowdy debate about the future of health care going on, but it is all happening internally inside the Democratic party with occasional input from Olympia Snowe. All the Republicans are doing are throwing spitballs and making lame threats, although in fairness, Chuck Grassley does show up on TV every now and then to debate the position he had 24 hours earlier.

At any rate, I guess we should just be happy Saxby didn’t channel fellow Georgian Lynn Westmoreland and tell Obama he better not be uppity."

http://www.balloon-juice.com/

Because the Republican party buses loons who act like animals at town halls democrats are supposed to pay attention?

Posted by: drindl | September 9, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, dawd. They all say the party has lost credibility, and then they put forth the same policies that caused them to lose credibility.

I know what you mean, shrink and blarg. Chris' trying to do what he has to do --as I said, CPR on a corpse. Although Huntsman has promise. Just none of the rest of them.

==

When this columns trot out three-decades-out-of-date talking points like "resentment of Big Government" then all this "Republican resurgence" BS fails to even rise to the level of bad satire.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 9, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, dawd. They all say the party has lost credibility, and then they put forth the same policies that caused them to lose credibility.

I know what you mean, shrink and blarg. Chris' trying to do what he has to do --as I said, CPR on a corpse. Although Huntsman has promise. Just none of the rest of them.

Posted by: drindl | September 9, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

"making "big accomplishments" you can harldy see

You have to let your eyes "fall apart", like those pictures embedded in pictures that were popular about 15 years ago.

Posted by: shrink2"

It's all about merging the two pictures together. The picture is actually two pictures each representing a different perspective for each eye. You merge them together and you see the picture.

I figured this out during a crystallography course I took. Those papers are filled with stereograms. I pretty much spent the lectures perfecting the technique and deciding that crystallography is the most boring thing in the world.

Not that protein structures are uninteresting. It's just I found I don't care how they are discovered.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 9, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Blarg is right.
Mike suspicious of what?
He is biased, it is open, out there.
I am not worried about a Republican Rising, but someone at the WaPo decided they needed a Republican Rising meme in their political sphere and here we are. It gives us a venue to be funny!

Posted by: shrink2 | September 9, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

He started with Huntsman, which was a good pick. And I don't disagree with the ones since Ensign(!). And some of these guys may stand out simply because they are swimming against the current, succeeding in a purplish landscape. I certainly don't expect one-for-one, but 8:1 is looking suspicious.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | September 9, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

CC has to focus on the rising Republican party, because he covers elections. He talks about polls, who might run, who's got support from the party, who raised the most money, etc. He never discusses issues, except as a way for a candidate to get more money/support. The effects of policies aren't mentioned at all.

If there's no competition, then the political media is out of a job. If every Republican loses in a dull race in 2010 and 2012, CC has nothing to write about. He has to make it look like the Republicans might win so he can keep the public's attention. The media isn't biased for Democrats or Republicans; they're biased towards the storyline.

Posted by: Blarg | September 9, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I don't even mind that it's all Republicans. The best Democrat has obviously no more room to rise and given the success the Dems have had in recent years, it's no stretch to think the farm might be a bit depleted.

But some of those guys. Mitch Daniels? Mitt Romney? Penry isn't that bad, actually, especially on the state level. I don't see a lot of people getting excited about this slate of guys. They are still clinging to a paradigm that was soundly rejected not so long ago. To admit the party screwed up is meaningless if they intend on pursuing the same policies.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 9, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree completely (I am scertain we would be friends if we knew each other), Chris' spin is not why we do this, it is the info. I learn here and I can scroll really fast.

But, I meant to say if it is just a big pile of info, no matter how accurate, he'll get fired. Everything has to have 'brand recognition' in order to have 'market share'...and for who knows what reason, he either chose or was told to do Republican Rising.

Posted by: shrink2 | September 9, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I love the way you write, margaret. Teehee.

Here's a good piece by Andrew Sullivan, conservative:

Charlie Cook and others are predicting a sea-change in public mood, with support for the GOP rising because of deficits. This strikes me as an amazing thing. It makes Charlie Brown, the football and Lucy look like the model of intelligent interaction.

If you believe in fiscal conservatism, the last place on earth you should look for salvation is the GOP. They have single-handedly destroyed America’s finances since the 1980s, with the sole exception of George H W Bush, who was rejected by his own party precisely because of his fiscal sobriety.

The current debt is overwhelmingly inherited by Obama, and it would have been nuts to enter office in the downdraft of the sharp recession and set about cutting spending.

Bush had eight years to restrain it and he didn’t. He let it rip. Think of the GOP’s phony concerns about the cost of the current healthcare bill and compare it with the GOP’s prescription drug entitlement that Rove rammed through the Congress when the GOP held total power.

The costs then were about eight times as great as the proposed costs now. But that was a Republican measure and so it doesn’t somehow count as evidence of fiscal irresponsibility. But Nancy Pelosi only has to raise an eye-brow and the alarms go off."

The rightwings pavlovians have trained the base well. The dogs always howl at the prompts.

Posted by: drindl | September 9, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

making "big accomplishments" you can harldy see

You have to let your eyes "fall apart", like those pictures embedded in pictures that were popular about 15 years ago.

Posted by: shrink2 | September 9, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms ("racism, sexism, homophobia") when confronted with any social issue. The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clichés that it's positively pickled.


Spot on accurate Camille. Evidence abounds in this sandbox.

Couldn't be more biased wearing a white sheet.

the indication of a very small mind. Even old school liberals are running for the door. Poor Obama. Never had a chance. some actual experience might have made a difference. but instead a vote of Present and wholesale capitulation to the far left of Reid/Pelosi.

Posted by: snowbama | September 9, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

The spin is not what makes it attractive, shrink... it's the info. Chris is good with that. Better than most. Plus it's easy to post here, not as much work as a lot of blogs and that counts. But the spin is annoying as are the cretinous trolls. He would do himself a favor by posting a little less and spending a little more time finding out who is ruining the blog for everyone else -- and getting rid of them.

And in any case, the arguments are often just not that strong. Like this one.

Posted by: drindl | September 9, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Penry's got it all! He's young! He thinks his party's better than the Democrats! He's going to attract new voters by narrowing his party's focus!

He fits right into The Rising, a list full of pale pip-squeak newbies, paler mid-level managers making "big accomplishments" you can harldy see, and a few senior poiticians who sure can step in a cow patty.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 9, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

CC-I see the regular group of misfits has arrived and predict the blog will very soon descend into raucous miasma. you will then threaten to ban the players who don't cause it.

some good the ban did. the loon was back the next day under a different moniker. All the Liberals that promised to never return were also back as fast as a Baldwin.

Why not just admit that Democrats and liberals have no sense of self-control and no ability to organize their thoughts and desires. they are like wandering baboons in search of victims to embrace.

CC - you are suffering from the same thing the administration has. consider who your most prolific participants are and recoil from the reality.

But if you want to keep your job, don't go insulting Hillary anymore. they are very loud when annoyed, as I am sure you are aware. and you are no Glenn Beck.

Posted by: snowbama | September 9, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

You folks may wish to stop criticizing Chris for the Republican Rising! meme. His job depends on it. Blogs have to have brand recognition you know.

Good blogs do not have to be fair or balanced, but they do have to make sense and remain fact based; you can't just make stuff up. But the spin here is clear and the spin is what makes it attractive. There is an argument, not just a pile of facts. Chris says stuff people can lean into.

Posted by: shrink2 | September 9, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, funny bout that, huh, Mike?

desperate attempts to perform CPR on the rotting corpse of the party...

Posted by: drindl | September 9, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I guess another "Palin!! Palin!! Palin!!!!!!" column can't be far off. Later today?

Couldn't be more biased wearing a white sheet.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 9, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The Rising Series to date:

Josh Penry(R)
Jim DeMint(R)
Rob Portman(R)
Steve Israel(D) <---look! bipartisanship!
Mitch Daniels(R)
John Ensign(R)
Jeb Bush(R)
Mitt Romney(R)
Jon Huntsman(R)

Posted by: mikeinmidland | September 9, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Hell, are there ANY Republicans who are critical of the Iraq war? If they can't even bring themselves to do that, then those croc tears aren't fooling anyone but the idiots.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 9, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I think Mr Penry is downplaying the shift in thinking in Colorado and the whole mountain west in general. It isn't as "center-right" as he likes to think. The liberal bastion of Boulder has begun to spread up and down the foothills and Denver continues to grow as a city (which helps the Democrats). Also I don't know if he will be able to raise the amount of money he will need to compete with McInnis.
Plus his age will be a huge hinderance for him in the primary since old white voters make up a significant percent of GOP primary voters.

Posted by: AndyR3 | September 9, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

So is self chastisement the only requirement to becoming a rising star? Republicans are saying this all the time, but these guys are still intent on following every last Bush policy. To these people, Bush's only sin was to be unpopular.

As for the progressive initiatives, what were they exactly? If I recall correctly, California also failed to pass a few and no one will confuse Californians with center-right.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 9, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"Republicans have lost credibility as a governing party," said Penry "

Exactly. He's right about that. Unfortunately, he's no different than any of them. If he tries to be moderate, he will lose the primary. If he plays to the base, he will lose the general.

Posted by: drindl | September 9, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Good for Josh Penry : )

Posted by: JakeD | September 9, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

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