Huge transportation needs drive Ritter, Penry past ‘petty politics’

In the end, it apparently all comes back to transportation. According to reports, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter’s transportation panel is making a major push for $1.5 billion more a year for roads, bridges and public transit. And that news has been immediately embraced by Sen. Josh Penry of Fruita, who last week was chosen the GOP’s Senate minority leader.

A story posted at the official government Web site of the Senate Republicans has Penry giving “a nod to the governor” for “reaching out to Republicans by including some transportation spending and a ‘rainy-day’ fund in his proposed budget.”

In another story, after Penry was selected to lead his GOP colleagues, he pledged to reach out to Democrats, who control the House, Senate and the governor’s office — but at the same time to “stand strong for party principles and ‘draw the line’ on key issues.”

“Especially after such an acrimonious campaign season, Coloradans are fed up with petty politics and endless squabbling,” Penry was quoted saying. “They’d like us to be adults, do our jobs and make government work.”

During this fall’s campaign, Penry was identified as one of the key players behind the Western Skies Coalition, a conservative Virginia corporation with an office in Littleton that received hefty contributions from oil and gas companies in a bid to target several key Colorado state Senate races and win back a Republican majority in 2010.

Among the TV ads that Western Skies funded were those supporting incumbent Republican Sen. Shawn Mitchell of District 23, who beat Democratic challenger Joe Whitcomb, and Republican Libby Szabo, who lost a bid for the Senate in District 19 against Democrat Evie Hudak.

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