DENVER — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser lashed out at media organizations during a Tuesday evening debate, accusing reporters of a double standard in coverage of forged signatures found on petitions that allowed him on the ballot.
For days, the 34-year-old lawyer and combat veteran had dodged serious questions about those signatures. He refused to answer questions during two candidate forums last week and subsequent interviews with reporters. On Monday, The Denver Post published what it characterized as an exclusive interview with the candidate about the topic, which Keyser called “a very serious issue.”
Toward the beginning of Tuesday evening’s debate, Keyser brought up the controversy himself, saying he wanted to clear the air.
“The signature issue that I’ve been dealing with is something that I didn’t come out with and speak about right away because I think leaders have to have the courage, the integrity, and the discipline, to make sure that they have all the information that they can gather before they come out and talk about an honest answer,” he said. “And here’s the truth: My campaign hired a company, that company hired another company, and that company hired a subcontracted employee that wound up, it looks like, circumventing the law. And that’s wrong.”
Then Keyser turned his attention toward media and coverage of the scandal.
“Now, The Denver Post, I think, has done a good job at covering the story for what it is, but frankly, there’s a lot of media outlets in this state that really have done a lot of the heavy lifting and carried the water for the liberals on this to disguise Michael Bennet’s record and get us talking about anything that doesn’t involve Michael Bennet,” he said.
I think there’s a big problem here in the media because there’s a double standard that exists. Frankly, I don’t know of anybody jumping out of the bushes to ask Michael Bennet questions about his vote on Iran or his support of closing Guantanamo Bay and importing the world’s most dangerous terrorists to the United States and probably right here to Colorado. How about his support of Obamacare and the fact that it’s failed.
The “jumping out of the bushes” line is a newer riff on an earlier Keyser critique about a TV reporter “creeping around” his house when the reporter knocked on his door to try and get comment for a story.
Later in the debate, Keyser said he thought the petition process to get on the primary ballot in Colorado is “the most complicated process that we have probably in the country in order to get onto the ballot in the first place.”
In Colorado there are two ways to get on the ballot. The petition route, which led three of the five Republican candidates to go to court to get on the ballot, allows candidates to bypass the caucus-assembly process. One candidate, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, went a different route, earning 70 percent of the vote from thousands of delegates during the GOP state assembly in early April.
In an interview with The Colorado Independent Tuesday, Glenn said, “Everywhere I go, people will come up to me and tell me that is a factor,” when it comes to who they are voting for this year.
“People that made the decision to petition on the ballot, they made a calculated decision early on that wrote off a portion of the base,” he said, adding that with the “Trump phenomenon” this election cycle, people are aggravated.
The five Republicans running in the primary are Glenn, Keyser, former NFL quarterback Jack Graham, businessman Robert Blaha, and former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier.
Frazier is on the ballot after going to the state Supreme Court because of his petitions, but a judge said if he loses his court challenge he’ll have to withdraw from the race. During Tuesday’s debate he said of the petition process, “The system is broken, the rules are stuck in the last century, and I’m fighting to make sure every valid voter signature is counted.”
Frazier also went on to say, “This isn’t a question of whether our campaign can manage a petition or not, these are valid signatures that we’ve reviewed, we’ve found time and again represent valid Republican voters whose signatures were thrown out for clerical or technical errors and, quite frankly, should be counted.” That justices on the state’s highest court took up his challenge, he said, shows that “they, too, see the errors in the system.”
The Denver Post sponsored Tuesday’s debate, which was held in the newspaper’s auditorium.
[Photo credit: schmilblick via Creative Commons on Flickr]