- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

DENVER (AP) - Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser said Tuesday he won’t quit his campaign if it’s found his primary bid was marred by fraudulent petitions to get him onto the ballot, and he blamed the news media for focusing on his ballot troubles instead of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s record.

“I will not drop out of the race,” Keyser said in response to a question from fellow candidate Darryl Glenn at a Republican Senate debate hosted by The Denver Post. Glenn asked Keyser if he would bow out if it ultimately is determined he didn’t get enough signatures to qualify, despite a court order that placed him on the ballot.

Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner, is the only candidate who was voted to the June 28 primary by delegates at the state GOP convention, and he made a point of that during the debate. Keyser and three other candidates chose to petition their way.

Denver’s district attorney is looking into reports that voter signatures submitted by Keyser’s campaign were forged - raising questions whether Keyser, a former state representative, did get enough to qualify for the primary. A judge overturned a finding by Colorado’s top elections official that he didn’t.

Keyser, once considered by top Republicans a preferred challenger to Bennet, said Tuesday he didn’t know about any fraudulent signatures. He blamed a signature collector who worked for a contractor to his campaign.

“That employee apparently broke the law and that’s a sin,” he said. But he also said the news media were too focused on his petition problems, which have overshadowed the race.

“There are a lot of media outlets in this state that have done the heavy lifting for the left,” he said. “The Democrats were absolutely gleeful for the past couple of weeks,” he added.

Earlier Tuesday, Secretary of State Wayne Williams said the same petition gatherer had turned in the signature of a dead voter.

Williams said that he first learned about the incident Tuesday and referred the matter to the Denver district attorney.

Williams had said Monday there was no indication that any GOP Senate campaign - including Keyser’s - was aware of any irregularities in the handling of petitions by subcontractors for the campaigns. Keyser has not said when he first learned of any irregularities.

Williams did say Tuesday that an elections staff member was notified in mid-April that the petition gatherer, identified as Maureen Moss, had turned in the signature of a dead voter. That signature was rejected.

Attempts to reach Moss by telephone Tuesday weren’t successful.

KMGH-TV reported last week that it had uncovered 10 forged voter signatures.

Keyser and candidates Jack Graham, Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier chose to petition their way onto the primary ballot by collecting at least 1,500 voter signatures from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts.

Blaha also got a court order reversing a finding that he collected too few signatures. Frazier’s name is provisionally on the ballot while he appeals his disqualification for too few signatures to the Colorado Supreme Court.

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