The headline of last week's blog "Josh Penry About to Announce Gubernatorial Bid?" didn't really need a question mark. It was abundantly clear from the lead-up to his Saturday appearance at the Mesa County Courthouse in Grand Junction that only a bizarre cataclysm -- like an earthquake that suddenly swallowed up Colorado's Western Slop -- would prevent him from formally declaring his interest in the office. And so it went. Penry is now an official challenger to both Governor Bill Ritter and fellow Republican Scott McInnis, whose campaign thus far bears a marked resemblance to losing senatorial candidate Bob Schaffer's, right down to the use of a mountain from outside Colorado in publicity materials.
Penry's certainly hitting the ground running. After his July 11 announcement, according to his schedule, he returned to this side of the divide for a meet-and-greet in Morrison -- and he's got another gab-fest slated today at a Broomfield automobile dealership. Would you buy a used car from this man? Get some clues by reading the biography included on his new Penry For Governor website, as well as the aforementioned events roster, both on view after the jump.
Josh Penry is a Republican Candidate for Governor of the State of Colorado. Penry also serves as the Minority Leader of the Colorado State Senate.
Since his election to the Colorado State House of Representatives in 2004, Penry has established himself as the leader of a new generation of reform-minded conservatives who have shaped the debate in the State Capitol by both launching a range of innovative policy reforms and by mounting well-organized opposition to the conventional tax-and-spend policies of Bill Ritter and the Legislative Democrats.
Penry has been identified by the Rocky Mountain News, the Denver Post, the Colorado Statesman and national publications like the National Journal, Politico and the Washington Post as a key leader in Colorado politics.
Penry is a leading fiscal conservative in the Colorado General Assembly. He has forcefully argued that Republicans will never be entrusted to govern again unless the party reclaims the mantle of fiscal discipline that Republican leaders in Washington squandered over the last decade. But Penry has also stood out by crafting innovative proposals to fund schools, colleges and roads -- without raising taxes.
Penry believes an important part of fiscal responsibility is showing how core functions of government can be met within existing budgets.
While Governor Ritter and Legislative Democrats have advocated for higher taxes and fees to fund critical services, Penry has constructed his own plans to fund key priorities within existing revenues. One such plan sponsored by Penry redirected a share of royalty payments Colorado receives from drilling for natural gas on federal lands to fund the state's colleges and universities. The plan, which increased funding for colleges without raising taxes, won support from Republicans and Democrats alike and earned Penry special recognition and awards from Colorado's Community College System, Mesa State College, and the University of Colorado Alumni Association.
Penry has also been a leader in the K-12 education reform movement. As a freshman senator, Penry sponsored a bipartisan education reform bill that directed the State Board of Education to increase graduation standards and retool the State's education assessment (CSAP) to be more rigorous and relevant for both teachers and students. Penry is a strong supporter of school choice laws, including those that promote charter schools and protect the rights of parents and students who choose to home school.
A supporter of Jessica's Law, Penry has also pushed legislation to increase penalties against sexual predators.
A lifelong conservationist, he's also built a solid record of accomplishment protecting water, lands and open space in Colorado. In his first term, Penry sponsored and won passage for the "Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act," legislation designed to minimize water resource fights between the various regions of Colorado. The Denver Post called it one of the most important water laws in decades. In 2008, Penry won the "Friends of Conservation" award from the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts, as recognition for his work to enhance Colorado's conservation easement tax credit program by closing loopholes that had led to its abuse.
Penry has been an outspoken supporter of efforts to expand wind, solar, and other renewable energy supplies in Colorado. He has been equally outspoken in opposing Governor Ritter and others who have pushed an extreme agenda focused on reducing our supplies of traditional energy sources.
With Democrats in charge of all of the levers of power in Colorado, Penry is perhaps best known for leading the charge against the most controversial aspects of Governor Ritter's agenda. In 2007, Penry helped lead a Senate filibuster of a bill that would have rolled back Colorado's generations-old Labor Peace Act -- a high profile floor fight that helped ultimately lead to the veto of the measure.
As the leader of the Senate Republican Caucus, Penry led the fight against a bill that proposed to repeal a landmark limit on government spending, a statute that has kept Colorado's budget in check for nearly two decades.
It was that same fighting spirit and organized legislative leadership that helped Penry and Senate Republicans band together with moderate Democrats to defeat separate proposals in 2009 that would have repealed the death penalty, done away with the Electoral College in Colorado, and given in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. One publication lauded Penry's work calling him, "the Senator who saved the Death Penalty."
Penry is a native of Colorado and a long-time resident of Western Colorado. He graduated from Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College, where he quarterbacked the Mesa State Mavericks football team and served as student body President. In 1998, Penry was named the National Scholar Athlete of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association and the Burger King Corporation, an award given to Peyton Manning the previous year. He graduated summa cum laude from Mesa State.
Penry is married to Jamie Penry, also a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College. For her part, Jamie was an all-state high school and stand-out college basketball player. The two started dating their senior year in high school.
The Penry's have two children, a seven-year-old son named Chase and a three-year-old daughter named Emme. Penry spends his free time coaching his son's little league teams and doing his best to answer all of the questions that his daughter can throw at him. He is also employed by Home Loan and Investment Company, a banking, financial services and insurance company that has been in business in western Colorado for more than a century.
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