During a Saturday campaign stop in Craig, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis emphasized his rural roots, a background he said makes him different from other candidates running for governor.
McInnis, a former U.S. representative for Colorado’s Third District, stopped at the Golden Cavvy Restaurant & Lounge for a meet-and-greet with about 20 residents.
McInnis, a Grand Junction resident, is running against Evergreen resident and businessman Dan Maes, who has visited Craig several times, in Tuesday’s primary election.
“Somebody said, ‘Well, you need to be up to Craig a lot more often,” McInnis said. “Well, I said, ‘The difference between myself and my opponents, I know Craig like the back of my hand.’ They couldn’t even show me where it is on a map.
“Ask them where the Vermillion Basin is, just give them a hint, give them a region and they still couldn’t find it for you on a map.”
McInnis said Gov. Bill Ritter “doesn’t care about Moffat County up here.”
“They think the state of Colorado starts and stops at the Denver city limits,” he said of Ritter and Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper. “Hickenlooper has never been up here in his life until all of a sudden he wants to run for office, (and the) same with my other opponent. Then they come up here and they talk to you like they were good old buddies.”
McInnis addressed a wide variety of topics Saturday, including the energy industry, economy and job creation.
“I want you to know right now, unfortunately in Colorado about 200, 250 of our fellow citizens are finding out they’re losing their jobs,” he said.
McInnis said his number one issue in this race is the economy.
“Across the board, people have lost their jobs because of these tax increases,” he said. “And their response is, ‘Well, business has to pitch in more.’ They are not doing enough.”
Colorado’s economy “thrives” on small businesses, McInnis said.
“Ninety six-percent of our business in this state is small business,” he said. “They talk about bringing in new business to Colorado. I think that is great, but our first priority ought to be keeping it from going out of Colorado, which they do when they put these oil and gas regulations (in).”
McInnis also addressed recent state tax increases.
“They raised taxes if you eat it, you drink it, you drive it, even if you are on the computer, your taxes have been increased,” he said. “For what? To increase the flow of money to the government for government jobs. Everybody else has to cut waste.”
The audience asked McInnis several questions, most frequently about the energy industry in Northwest Colorado and the state.
McInnis said there is “a lot of opportunity” for clean coal and the energy industry.
“We need to have someone that is a reasonable person that kind of governs by the reasonable person standard,” he said. “Those jobs … that we lost were self-inflicted injuries. We can get them back.”
McInnis said regulations on the oil and gas industry were the “next to the toughest anti-drilling regulations in the United States,” and residents in the area have felt the impacts.
McInnis also addressed the recent decision to close Vermillion Basin to energy development.
“That is going to (be) a devastating blow to this part of the state,” he said.
A resident in the audience asked McInnis to explain recent allegations that he submitted plagiarized work to the Hasan Family Foundation.
McInnis said he hired an expert to “write water articles for me and do the research.” He said the work was not the expert’s original work and the articles were “never published.”
“These articles were put in a cardboard box and stacked away until political season came,” he said.
McInnis said he “took responsibility” for the work.
“We’ve fixed it, we’ve reached … full satisfaction with the foundation,” he said. “Look, (if) you can’t take that kind of heat, you shouldn’t be in the kitchen, because they are going to throw everything they can at us.”
McInnis said the allegations were “a character assassination by the Denver Post.”
Craig resident Todd Hildebrandt attended the meet-and-greet and said McInnis’ presentation was “very good.”
“He knows rural Colorado,” he said.
Hildebrandt said he did not feel the number of visits McInnis has made to the area during his campaign is an issue.
As for the plagiarism accusations against McInnis, Hildebrandt said he was a “little bit concerned” when they surfaced, but “I think he explained it well.”
Hildebrandt said he was “on the fence” about voting for McInnis before Saturday, but the meet-and-greet helped influence his decision.
“I think I was probably leaning that way,” he said.