Let’s call it the Cory Curse. It’s as good an explanation as any.
And let’s agree that Jon Keyser, the would-be GOP golden boy, is the latest victim, although he can’t really blame anyone but himself, or maybe his dog. All we can say for sure is that since Cory Gardner broke the GOP’s 10-year, top-of-the-ballot losing streak in 2014, everything has gone spectacularly wrong for state Republicans.
To have a chance at keeping their streak going, all they had to do was find — and then keep — a reasonable candidate to oppose Michael Bennet in this year’s Senate race. Instead, one candidate after another either refused the job or found a way to ensure they’d never get it. You remember: Cynthia Coffman’s attempted coup, Ellen Roberts’ unfortunate memory lapse, Tim Neville’s target-practice humor, and now Keyser, the biggest imploder of them all.
Keyser was supposed to be the new Gardner. Apparently, though, he thought that being the new Gardner meant following Cory’s example of refusing to answer questions while insisting that he had, in fact, answered them. It’s Gardner’s special talent, but not, it’s now safe to say, one of Keyser’s.
He was asked repeatedly about the Denver7 story that at least 10 of the signatures on his Senate petitions were reportedly forged. He answered repeatedly, “Here’s the important thing. I’m on the ballot, and I’m going to beat Michael Bennet.” He said it, by a Denver Post count, five times in two minutes. The national press was calling it a Marco Rubio moment. I’d go with Mike Coffman. But you get the idea.
If Keyser had stopped there, though, with a barrage of non-answers, he might have been all right. If he had had any of the Gardner panache and not so much of the Rubio flop sweat, he still might have survived.
If he hadn’t threatened the reporter with his dog …
Did I mention the dog? We’ll get back to Duke. But first to the multiple meltdowns, which are available on YouTube. And they’ve all gone viral. The Washington Post called them cringe-worthy, and they were even worse than that.
Keyser was in a tough spot. He was one of four Republicans who had attempted to petition his way onto the Senate ballot and one of three who had originally failed. It’s a tricky proposition getting 1,500 signatures in each congressional district, but Keyser was the establishment choice. The guys backing him have done this before, and you’d think they know how to do it. And yet as we saw chaos turn to farce, Keyser was one of three who had to turn to a judge to get on the ballot. All five Republicans are on the ballot, but how many will be eligible is still unresolved.
But as embarrassing as that might be, it’s not the story. The story is the reported forgeries, and it’s a story that 7News’ Marshall Zelinger has owned. Zelinger did the hard work of finding people whose signatures were on the petitions and who said, on camera, that the signatures weren’t theirs. He found everyone but Keyser, who had been ducking him. But then came the debate, and Keyser had to show.
Keyser knew the question was coming. In fact, he got the question four times from moderator Joe St. George of Fox31. And each time he had the same practiced answer, which was a non-answer. He should have practiced more.
He got the question eight times more when Zelinger interviewed him. He had a dozen chances to get it right and went a big 0 for 12. To be fair, Keyser did occasionally have other things to say. When there was a follow-up, he’d reliably say he had already answered the question that he hadn’t answered. And he did take the chance to blame Democrats and Democratic activists while name-checking, of course, George Soros.
The person he didn’t blame was someone named Maureen, who was reportedly the collector of the problematic signatures. And he also failed to mention that voter fraud might be a bad thing and that, if there was fraud in his campaign, he’d do everything he could to root it out, because, you know, it’s fraud, and Republicans fear nothing more than voter fraud, which is how they justify their proposals to make voting more difficult.
You’d think, too, that he’d say that he was investigating the issue, that as a U.S. Air Force officer, he understood the importance of integrity.
Instead, we got this in his interview with Zelinger, which we pick up midway, just as Keyser goes from unresponsive to slightly unhinged.
Zelinger: Be that as it may, these voters tell me they didn’t sign the petition. What can you say to them?
Keyser: Well, Mitchell… Marshall, they told you that, but hold on. Were you the guy that was creeping around my house yesterday?
Zelinger: I knocked on your door.
Keyser: Oh, well, you woke up my kids … My baby cried for an hour after that. Did you get to meet my dog?
Zelinger: I met your dog and your nanny. She’s very kind and your dog was kind.
Keyser: He’s a great dog. He’s bigger than you are. He’s huge. He’s a big guy. Very protective…
Zelinger: I don’t know what that meant, but okay.
Keyser: Here’s the thing. Oh, he’s a great dog.
Zelinger: What’d you mean by his size?
Keyser: Have you seen him? He’s a Great Dane. He’s 165 pounds. He’s a good dog.
Zelinger: So back to the voters who told me their signatures were forged. I’ve counted 10 so far. If there’s more, it’s possible you didn’t really collect enough to really make the ballot. What’s your response to that?
Keyser: I’m on the ballot. I’m on the ballot …
So, here’s what we know about Keyser: His dog is big. He’s on the ballot. And it’s hard to see how things could get much worse.