Last month's Kumbaya moment, which featured most of Colorado's top GOPs uniting behind gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis and the Republican Party's Platform for Prosperity, did not resound in southeastern Colorado.
They're singing a different song near Pinon Canyon, a stunning swathe of ranchland east of Trinidad, because the platform is silent on the issue of of the Army's Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site -- and McInnis is on record supporting such expansion, a move that one-time opponent Josh Penry opposed.
"How can they come together to patch up their differences?" asks Lon Robertson, president of the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition, "and ignore the major issue that they have completely disagreed on? From our perspective, McInnis and the Republican Platform for Prosperity fail to address a core conservative principle -- protecting private enterprise from the heavy hand of government."
Close to thirty years ago, the feds took more than 200,000 acres of Pinyon Canyon in the largest land grab in the country's history. And for the past half-dozen years, ranchers and other property owners in the area have lived under the threat of the Army seizing hundreds of thousands of acres more.
"We are hopeful that property-rights Republicans will clarify the position of their party during the caucus process, which has been the traditional way of formulating the party platform," adds state senator Ken Kester in a release the group sent out yesterday. "What we have right now is an incomplete Republican Party Platform -- ignoring the core of conservatism and the people of southeastern Colorado."
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Although the group opposing Pinon Canyon does not represent any particular party, it stands strong against any expansion in the area. "The Army's position on eminent domain has also flip-flopped at least three times in those same three years," Robertson notes. "They took 250,000 acres 25 years ago and said they would never come back. We think limited government means a government that stands by its word."