Since this possibility has been raised, I think maybe some ideas from outside might be helpful to avoid groupthink.
In my opinion, this move carries significant political risk, and will not likely achieve its intended objective.
Josh Penry as Lt. Gov won’t placate the Tea Party people. It may well infuriate them even more. It won’t raise McInnis’s standing any, and they might well label Penry as a sell-out, based on a fairly pedestrian career move. He’ll be passing up staying in the state Senate where he could have held McInnis to his promises, for an opportunity to run interference for him. And it will totally freeze out Dan Maes, who at this point is their only opportunity cast a vote before everything’s decided.
Ironically, Jane Norton’s candidacy probably hurts this decision’s effectiveness, as one of her main liabilities is her tie to Referendum C & D. If she had no choice but to support them, then Penry will have no choice but to support McInnis, who hasn’t yet proven anything about himself to the Tea Partiers.
From Penry’s point of view (and the party’s, I think) it’s a waste of his talents. Go back and look at a list of lieutenant governors. Yes, Gail Schoettler came within a thousand votes or so of making something from the office. But other than that, you have to go back to McNichols and 1956, 52 years, to find anyone who got elected to high office from being #2. McInnis ought to know that better than anyone, since Mike Callihan failed against him for Congress after being Lt. Governor.
In fact, Lt. Governor has been pretty much an unmitigated stepping-stone to obscurity. Nancy Dick lost to Bill Armstrong for Senate. Mike Callihan lost to McInnis. Schoettler lost to Bill Owens, and Joe Rogers placed out of the money in the Republican primary in the 7th Congressional District’s inaugural run. So if Penry just sacrificed a gubernatorial run in order to preserve that bright career, he may be on the verge of tossing that away, too.
I realize it’s easy to carp from the outside. But it’s also sometimes easier to see that what looks like a really good idea based on traditional politics probably isn’t as hot as it sounds.