DENVER – Still smarting from back-to-back national electoral defeats, Republican strategists are hoping that a new generation of young, dynamic candidates will help trigger a GOP resurgence among an electorate increasingly cynical about government and disillusioned with a sputtering economy.
Political newcomer and second-generation Coloradoan Jon Keyser, who announced his intention to seek the House District 25 seat, may be just the kind of candidate they are looking for.
Keyser, an Afghanistan and Iraq War Veteran, attorney, and father believes Republicans “have failed to sharply focus and project a message of constitutional and fiscal conservative principles, and we’re paying the price for that right now.”
Keyser is running for the Jefferson County seat currently held by Representative Cheri Gerou, who has yet to file for re-election.
In an interview with TCO, Keyser explained why he wants to serve in the state legislature.
“This isn’t the Colorado that I grew up in. And it isn’t the Colorado that I want my daughter to grow up in,” Keyser said. “The economy continues to lag, so many people are unemployed or underemployed, and the Democratic leadership in this State wants to pile on more and more regulations, billion dollar tax increases, and job-killing policies that will only make things worse.”
Nationwide, Republicans have often struggled to compete with Democrats, who are better funded and have an easier time motivating young voters.
Asked what he thought Republicans need to do to push back against the aggressively left-leaning agenda of majority Democrats in the legislature, Keyser responded matter-of-factly.
“We need to systematically remove the Democrats from their positions of power in our State and replace them with reasonable, thoughtful leaders that have the integrity and the guts to get Colorado back on the right track,” said Keyser.
“We can’t continue to run the same types of candidates if we hope to broaden our appeal. I want the disenfranchised voters in my district to become encouraged, active, and engaged. If we can do that, we will win again,” Keyser continued.
In a state with roughly a half-million veterans, Keyser’s entrance into the race has many Republicans seeing an opportunity.
Now a Captain in the Air Force Reserves, Keyser was a member of the elite Wings of Blue parachuting team. He would join a small group of reservist-legislators in the United States.
Tyler Hart, Vice President of the 2012 Leadership Program of the Rockies (LPR), which educates civic-minded leaders, noted, “I’ve always known Jon to be a man of great character and extraordinary integrity who, as a combat vet, has had his life on the line to back up what he says he stands for.”
During his military service, he was honored by the Air Force as Intelligence Officer of the Year.
A few years ago, Keyser handed in his wings to trade jumping out of airplanes to advise medium- and large-sized businesses on legal matters. On his first day of law school at the University of Denver, he met his wife, Emma. Today, they have a young daughter, Eleanor, and a Great Dane named Duke.
When asked what kind of change Keyser could make in the State House, Ken Bauer, LPR President and classmate concluded, “Jon will bring with him the integrity, honor, and principled leadership that we so badly need in Colorado right now.”