McInnis, ScottIf Republican Scott McInnis has his way, the major issues in the race for governor will be taxes and jobs—and soda and candy.

McInnis, a former congressman, stepped into a debate that his main Democratic opponent, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, has so far avoided about state Dems’ efforts to remove a slate of tax exemptions to salvage a sagging budget. McInnis (right) blasts Hick for failing to join him in denouncing several fast-moving bills, including one that raises taxes on candy and soda.

“There is already a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers opposed to these tax hikes—and a lot of them passed by one vote,” McInnis says (via the Denver Daily News). “The Denver mayor Hickenlooper, Johnsurely could have gotten one more Democrat vote to kill these tax increases. It is a shame that he wasn’t willing to walk across the street in Denver from his office to the Capitol to stand up for jobs, even in his own city.”

A Hickenlooper spokesman reiterates an earlier statement by the mayor that he isn’t commenting on the series of bills, designed to help the state close a $1.5 billion budget shortfall over two years, because he doesn’t want to hamper the work of state lawmakers.

McInnis is supported by a handful of workers from the Pepsi Bottling Group plant in Denver who fear sales will drop by as much as 2.8 percent if customers have to pay more for soda, costing 30 to 65 jobs (via The Associated Press). 

McInnis is lockstep with the GOP in calling for spending cuts, but he hasn’t said whether reduced spending would affect jobs.

Meanwhile, Hickenlooper talks with the Pueblo Chieftain’s editorial board about water and how the governor can work with the federal government to address concerns over the expansion of the Army’s Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeastern Colorado.