Jon Keyser’s campaign for U.S. Senate is now as dead as one of the “voters” who allegedly “signed” his petitions for ballot access. That sort of thing will happen when fellow candidates publicly call on you to drop out of the race and it becomes a headline a day later. As the Associated Press recaps in the first paragraph of a story today:
An exchange between Darryl Glenn and John Keyser over forged voter signatures submitted by Keyser’s campaign highlighted a Republican U.S. Senate debate over who should take on incumbent Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet in November…
…“I will not drop out of the race,” Keyser said in response to a question from Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner who is the only candidate voted to the primary by delegates at the state GOP convention.
Look, if you have to publicly state “I will not drop out of the race,” it’s a pretty good signal that you aren’t likely to win an election anytime soon.
Tuesday marked yet another bizarre milestone in the latest whirlwind series of events regarding the Republican U.S. Senate race. As impossible as it might seem, things continue to get worse for Jon Keyser. Late Tuesday, the Secretary of State’s office announced that it had somehow missed warnings of petition fraud related to Keyser’s campaign — including news that at least one deceased person had somehow signed a Keyser petition to get his name onto the June 28th Primary ballot. This news prompted a one-sentence statement from ProgressNow Colorado — the group that first uncovered improprieties in Keyser’s petitions — calling on Keyser to “Just drop out already.”
A few hours later, the five Republican Senate candidates took part in a debate hosted by the Denver Post, which did not (surprise!) go well for Keyser. As Post political reporter John Frank explains:
Reiterating what he said in an interview with The Post on Monday, Keyser distanced himself from the signature controversy, attributing it to the conduct of an employee of a subcontractor connected to his campaign.
“I didn’t know what was going on with the signatures and the circulator and all that stuff,” he said later, dodging a question about whether he would accept personal responsibility for the mistakes.
[Darryl] Glenn, a fellow Air Force Academy graduate, pressed him on the point, saying both operated under an honor code. Glenn asked Keyser whether he would drop out if an independent audit found he didn’t qualify.
Keyser rejected the suggestion, prompting Glenn to quip: “I’m sure the academy will appreciate that answer.” [Pols emphasis]
The front page of today’s Denver Post includes a headline about Republican Jack Graham taking center stage at the debate, which appears next to a story about dead people signing Keyser’s petitions. The Washington D.C. publication Roll Call is also out with a big story about how Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet appears to have “lucked out” with such a weak field of Republican challengers, and Keyser takes his lumps here, too:
Pressed by the moderators about whether he bore any responsibility, Keyser instead blamed the media for having a liberal bias.
You can read more on Keyser’s struggles from Mike Littwin of the Colorado Independent, but by now you’re probably getting a pretty good picture of what happened (you can also catch on our debate grades for all five Republican candidates). It took Keyser two weeks to actually respond to repeated media inquiries about petition fraud related to his campaign, and his exclusive interview with the Denver Post didn’t turn out any better than his previous run-ins with Marshall Zelinger of Denver7 — responses that turned Keyser from candidate to Internet meme.
If you were once a Keyser supporter and you’re looking for closure, here’s the clip from last night’s debate in which Darryl Glenn calls on Keyser to drop out of the race if an investigation finds that he did not legally qualify for the ballot. This is what it looks like when a candidate craters: