The Denver Post’s John Frank posted a short while ago about the unusual predicament GOP U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser finds himself in, trying to appeal to the Republican primary electorate as just one face in a very crowded field:
“Democrats have shown time and time again that they have no respect for our Second Amendment rights,” [Keyser] wrote in an e-mail that asked for campaign donations to beat Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.
Keyser mentioned this in reference to a recent hearing in the Democratic-controlled House State Affairs Committee, in which a number of GOP-sponsored pro gun bills were killed. The problem is,
What Keyser didn’t mention: [Tim] Neville is a co-sponsor of four of the five bills. [Pols emphasis]
Neville is using his legislative seat to outline an agenda that dovetails with his Senate bid. He also raised campaign cash on the back of his gun bills — and recently gave away an AR-15 rifle to a campaign donor.
As with the GOP presidential race, the Colorado GOP U.S. Senate primary this year has been defined by the candidate most willing to make controversial statements that attract earned media. State Sen. Tim Neville’s strident legislative record and close ties with far-right Republican grassroots groups give him a natural leg up on the competition for primary voters. With voters for whom guns are basically their single political engagement issue–and thanks to the organizing work of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), that a lot of Colorado GOP primary voters–Neville has bonafides that none of his opponents can match. When he speaks to Republican voters or in debates, Neville is always careful to make sure that he talks about how he is already trying to do these things that all the other candidates are discussing; it’s a powerful message to be able to say, You don’t have to take my word for it — just watch what I’m doing.
All of which makes this story from Frank, which simply states the facts, very harmful to Keyser’s “17th Street insider”-driven campaign. At best, Keyser looks like he’s playing catch-up to Neville’s leadership on the issue.
And at worst, Keyser is covering up his record. Via Frank, Neville points to a vote in April last year in which Keyser sided with Democrats to defeat a longshot procedural attempt to keep a bill repealing the 2013 magazine limit alive. If Keyser manages to emerge from the “clown car” pack of Republican candidates and present a serious challenge for the nomination, we fully expect Neville and Dudley Brown to turn Keyser into a new Michael Bloomberg on the strength of that one single vote.
And it’ll work, too. This is what the Brown/Neville political machine does best.