Why Jon Keyser is trying to sue his way onto the ballot

Republican establishment golden boy former state Rep. Jon Keyser isn’t backing down from his efforts to run in the U.S. Senate race, even though he officially failed to make the June 28 ballot.

Tuesday, the Morrison Republican sued Secretary of State Wayne Williams for rejecting thousands of petition signatures.

Williams announced Monday that Keyser had failed to make the ballot because of a high number of invalid signatures in Congressional District 3.

Keyser was attempting to become the second Republican to make the ballot through the petition process. Petitions submitted by Jack Graham of Fort Collins, former athletic director at Colorado State University, were certified last week.

Petitions must include at least 1,500 signatures from each congressional district. More importantly, once a voter signs a petition for one person running, that voter cannot sign another petition for another. The first campaign to turn in petitions snags the signatures of those who signed for multiple candidates.

In Congressional District 3, Keyser was short 86 signatures. But he had roughly 164 signatures in his District 3 petitions from voters who had already signed Graham’s. The two campaigns hired different firms for petition gathering: Keyser used Clear Creek Strategies and Graham used Kennedy Enterprises.

Keyser’s suit filed in Denver District Court alleges Williams disallowed signatures collected by Tyler Gonzalez, who lived in Colorado Springs but moved shortly before beginning to collect signatures and failed to change his voter registration address. He collected 14 petitions in Congressional District 3 with a total of 186 potentially valid signatures. The suit said the signatures were rejected because Gonzalez was allegedly not registered with the Republican Party at the address listed on the Secretary of State’s website.

State law requires those collecting signatures to be a registered party member and have an address matching the one filed with the Secretary of State.

Keyser’s attorneys claim Gonzalez met the major provisions of the law, that he was a registered voter and Republican.

A call for comment to Keyser’s communications manager, Matt Connelly, was not immediately returned.

Tuesday, Denver District Court Judge Elizabeth Starrs presided over an emergency hearing requested by Keyser’s campaign. According to The Colorado Springs Gazette, she will issue a ruling by no later than Friday.

That deadline is the last day Williams can certify the ballot for the June 28 primary. By law, it must be completed 60 days before the primary.

Williams’ office has not yet ruled on the petitions submitted by Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha or former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier.

In addition to Graham, Darryl Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner, secured a spot on the ballot during a sweeping win at the state Republican convention.  


Photo credit: House GOP. 

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.