The greatest threat to the environment would be Gov. Bill Owens and President Bush working together.
That is what Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter said in response to a question about the environment from one of about 40 people at the Steamboat Yacht Club on Saturday afternoon.
"We need a governor that pushes back against the federal government," said Ritter, a former Denver district attorney.
The environment was just one of the issues the Democratic candidate spoke about.
Ritter appears to be favored over Republican candidates to replace Owens, who is term-limited. The Denver Post wrote that Ritter likely would defeat Republican frontrunner Bob Beauprez if the election were held immediately, according to a poll conducted earlier this month by the newspaper.
Ritter also is thought to have a commanding lead against Gary Lindstrom, a state representative from Breckenridge who is the only other Democrat running for governor.
The intimate setting allowed many people to see and hear Ritter for the first time.
"He explained his positions well, and I think he expresses the Democratic feeling," former Routt County Commissioner Ben Beall said. "I like his frankness that he's not out to change the law."
Beall was referring to Ritter's stance on abortion. Ritter was raised Catholic with 11 siblings, and he has stated his opposition to abortion based on his faith.
"It is not any part of my agenda to change the law," Ritter said. "My agenda is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies."
Ritter said he wants to accomplish this by supporting organizations such as Planned Parenthood and by making emergency contraception more accessible.
Some Democratic colleagues have criticized Ritter for his stance on abortion.
"I believe it's possible to be both pro-life and pro-choice," said Andy Gold, who is running against Republican Al White for the District 57 seat of the Colorado House. Although Gold is pro-choice, he thinks Ritter will be able to separate his personal beliefs to govern effectively.
"I'm talking to Democrats about this issue, and the response is very positive," Ritter said.
Ritter will be in Craig and Meeker today before returning to Denver.
"I think he knows the law, and having served the public, that he will be more willing to promote programs in the state of Colorado that will benefit all Coloradans," Steamboat resident Tina Segler said.
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