Jon Keyser wasn’t always a Republican — despite what he said to Jack Graham

U.S. Senate candidate and former state House Rep. Jon Keyser of Morrison challenged the Republican credentials of former CSU Athletic Director Jack Graham during a recent debate hosted by The Denver Post. But as it turns out, Keyser has spent some time outside of the GOP.

Voter registration information obtained by The Colorado Independent and verified with the Jefferson County Elections Division shows that Keyser left the GOP for about two years, registering as an unaffiliated voter from October 2006 to October 2008, while he was in law school at the University of Denver.

During that period, Keyser told The Denver Post that students believed any distinction between the GOP and Democratic Party was “very blurry.”

The comment came during a 2007 forum hosted at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law that brought in Mitt Romney, who was weighing his presidential run.

Keyser seemed to forget his previous ambivalence about the two parties when he questioned Graham’s loyalty to the GOP during the May 17 debate.

“I have to take issue with something [Graham] said, calling himself a model Republican,” Keyser said, claiming that when people switch political parties, they also change their policy positions on issues such as abortion, amnesty for undocumented residents, the Second Amendment and who ought to be on the Supreme Court.

“That is not the definition of a conservative, and certainly not the definition of a model conservative,” Keyser said.

Graham is pro-choice, which puts him at odds with the rest of the Republican field vying for the U.S. Senate. But his campaign manager, longtime GOP operative Dick Wadhams, told The Denver Post in February that Graham had supported Republicans for years, and pointed out that the late President Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat.

Wadhams told The Colorado Independent that the Graham campaign did not want to respond to the news that Keyser had been unaffiliated, saying, “Poor Jon has had some pretty serious problems and we don’t want to pile on.”

The Keyser campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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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.