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GOP Hopeful Sues Colorado to Get on Ballot

DENVER (CN) — A Republican hopeful for a U.S. Senate seat sued Colorado on Tuesday, claiming he was unfairly barred from the primary ticket because of a technicality.

State Rep. Jon Keyser, R-Littleton, sued Secretary of State Wayne Williams in Denver County Court, challenging the secretary's determination that he fell 86 signatures short of getting his name on the ballot.

Keyser, who wants to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet, claims his campaign submitted more than 16,000 signatures to get on the primary ballot, but the secretary accepted only 11,436 of them.

To qualify for the ballot, Keyser needed to collect 1,500 signatures in each of Colorado's seven congressional districts. He fell 86 signatures short in one district.

Keyser insists he didn't really fall short. He says the secretary disqualified 186 signatures because one of his signature gatherers, Tyler Gonzalez, had failed to update his address after moving.

Colorado law requires signature gatherers to be affiliated with their candidate's party. Gonzalez's party registration could not be verified, so the 186 signatures he collected - 100 more than Keyser needs to get on the ballot - were rejected.

"Because Mr. Gonzalez substantially complied with the Colorado Elections Code in gathering and submitting the Keyser petitions, the Secretary's refusal to accept the otherwise valid signatures collected by Mr. Gonzalez constitutes a breach/neglect of duty," Keyser says in the complaint.

Denver County Judge Elizabeth Starrs is expected to rule by Friday. If Keyser saves his place, he will move on to the June 28 primary.

Keyser, 34, is the youngest contender for Sen. Bennet's seat. His campaign has relied heavily on his service as a major in the Air Force, and the Bronze Star he was awarded for his intelligence work with the NSA, which resulted in 107 captures of enemy targets in Iraq.

Since he entered the race in January, however, Colorado Republicans have expressed disappointment at his performance. His campaign reported $300,000 in fund-raising receipts for the first quarter, just one-sixth Bennet's $1.8 million.

Two wealthier Senate candidates, Integrity Bank & Trust co-founder Robert Blaha and former Colorado State University athletic director Jack Graham, were able to donate $1 million of their own money to their campaigns.

Another Keyser rival, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, claimed that Keyser was relying too heavily on his status as a veteran to make up for his lack of political savvy.

"Jon Keyser is a nice guy," Glenn told Channel 9 News, "but does not have a lot of depth or breadth of experience. He's running on 'I have a Bronze Star.'

"I respect him for that, but he didn't even finish a term in the Legislature."

Keyser won his seat in House District 25 in 2014.

The Keyser campaign did not respond to an email request for comment.

Keyser is represented by Christopher Murray with Brownstein Hyatt Farber & Schreck.


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