By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Speaking before a friendly audience of mining industry officials, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis Tuesday came down hard on Colorado Democrats for what he perceives to be economy-crushing oil and gas rules.
Speaking at the Colorado Mining Association meeting Tuesday in Denver, McInnis criticized his top Democratic opponent, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, for not having spoke out against new regulations on the oil and gas industry. He pointed out that Hickenlooper used to work in the oil and gas industry as a geologist.
“There’s a difference between best practice and no practice,” McInnis said of the new oil and gas rules, in an interview with the Denver Daily News following his remarks Tuesday. “What those rules and regulations did, frankly, was take Colorado from No. 1 to rock bottom on states that are friendly to do natural gas and energy business in.”
“During this period of time, the mayor never crossed the street. He sat on his hands, even though this has a huge negative impact on the city of Denver,” McInnis continued, citing commercial space leased by oil and gas companies in Denver.
McInnis said one reason the state is in such bad shape is because Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter’s administration pushed for the tough new oil and gas regulations on the Colorado energy industry. McInnis said the move restricted business and limited state revenue. He cited the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the state and said the loss has been partly the result of the new regulations.
After speaking of his personal experience in the mining industry, McInnis said that if elected governor, he would rewrite the new oil and gas rules to be more friendly toward Colorado’s energy industry.
The former congressman also called on Hickenlooper to join him in defeating a series of proposals being pushed by top Democrats that would eliminate certain business tax exemptions and incentives. Hickenlooper has not yet taken a stance on the series of bills opposed by Republicans.
Democrats explain their proposals for removing tax breaks and incentives enjoyed by business as a means to close a budget shortfall of more than $2 billion.
Meanwhile, Hickenlooper is scheduled to speak at the mining conference this afternoon. The mayor has edged ahead of McInnis, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll released this week. Hickenlooper leads by 49 percent to 45 percent with 1 percent preferring someone else and 6 percent undecided.
Hickenlooper only threw his hat into the ring last month when Ritter announced that he would not seek re-election.
But McInnis shrugged off the recent polling, arguing that Coloradans won’t support a candidate who doesn’t take a stance on an issue as controversial as tax breaks for the business community. He suggested that Hickenlooper hasn’t taken a stance on the bills because of the tumultuous political climate for Democrats, and given Hickenlooper’s pro-business platform.
“What he doesn’t want to be in this environment is a Democrat,” McInnis said of his opponent. “All of a sudden it’s, ‘Well, geez, I don’t want to get off the fence on these tax exemptions.’ Hey, if you’re running for governor, you’ve got to buckle up and tell ‘em where you are.”
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters