DENVER (AP) — Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Jon Keyser will appear on his party's primary ballot after all, a Denver judge ruled Friday.
Keyser had challenged a finding by Colorado's top elections official that he didn't collect enough voter signatures to petition his way onto the June 28 primary ballot. District Court Judge Elizabeth Starrs agreed.
Friday's ruling revives a campaign that has struggled to separate Keyser from his rivals. Keyser was seen by the GOP's national leadership as a preferred candidate to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
Keyser is an Air Force Reserve officer and a Bronze Star recipient who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was elected to the state House before resigning to seek the Republican nomination, and he has stressed his national security credentials in his campaign. He's also criticized Bennet for his support for President Barack Obama's Iran nuclear deal.
Keyser faces Jack Graham, a onetime Democrat and former Colorado State University athletic director, and Daryl Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner.
Businessmen Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier failed to qualify. They obtained a court injunction Friday stopping the printing of a primary ballot until they can file challenges, similar to Keyser's, next week.
"Jon is a combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and nothing will prevent him from holding Senator Michael Bennet accountable for his cowardice on matters of national security and economic security," said Keyser spokesman Matt Connelly.
"Keyser was anointed by the same national Republicans who have spent years creating gridlock in Washington, and like a typical politician Keyser has refused to take positions on issues that matter to Colorado," state Democratic Party spokesman Chris Meagher responded in a statement.
The state GOP's failure to recruit a top-name challenger to Bennet led to the crowded field that once totaled 13 candidates. That's in contrast to 2014, when then-Rep. Cory Gardner jumped into the race relatively late and went on to defeat Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.
Bennet sits atop more than $7.6 million in cash as of March 31, far more than Keyser, who reported just $200,000. Graham had $942,000 after donating $1 million of his own. Glenn had just $11,000.