Mandy Connell Show, Jon Keyser, May 2, 2016

Station: KOA, 850 AM

Show:     Mandy Connell Show

Guests:  Keyser


Date:      May 2, 2016


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HOST MANDY CONNELL:  […] will affect us all in terms of our choices when it comes to who is going to challenge Michael Bennet from the Republican Party to go to the U.S. Senate.  Now, we’re going to — if you are longtime Coloradan and you understand the political process, I apologize in advance.  We’re going to kinda do a little primer because there are so many new people here that are probably truly confused.  We’ll start with the news media coverage of the state convention, where a man named Darryl Glenn comes out of nowhere, makes a barnburner of a speech, he’s on the ballot.  Now, I got emails from people outside the state saying, “Who is this guy? Is he actually going to have a chance?”  And I said, “He’s not the nominee yet.”  He’s not the nominee, which takes us  to part two of the process, and that is there are othere ways to get on the primary ballot in Colorado.  Number one is to go to the state convention and get a certain percentage of the votes.   Number two is to collect signatures on petitions.  You go around to people in all the different districts and you get all these signatures.  Then you have the signature certified, and then they put you on the ballot.  My next guest, Jon Keyser, had a bit of trauma last week, surrounding that process.  What happened, Jon?  First of all, thanks for joining me.

GOP CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE AND FORMER COLORADO STATE REPRESENTATIVE FROM HOUSE DISTRICT (JEFFERSON COUNTY), JON KEYSER:  Thanks, Mandy.  I appreciate it a lot.  Hey, you know, it was actually an interesting week because — it wasn’t too dramatic for us.  We had double- and triple-checked our petition process and everything.  And actually, I’m a reservist still in the United States Air Force. I was gone on reserve duty  And I knew that we had a double and triple checked our petitions signatures.  But yes, we had the Secretary of State that said we had a problem, and we had a few signatures short in one of the Congressional districts.  But, we knew we were okay, and very confident about that. It took a couple days but I’m on the ballot now and ready to beat Michael Bennet.

CONNELL:  What was the confusion? I mean, I read the news stories and I still don’t understand what the confusion was.

KEYSER:  Yeah.  It kind of comes down to, really, I think, a part of law where we had a guy who was going around – he was working for us for months — collecting signatures.  And he had a great job, doing that.  And now the Secretary of State – actually, not the Secretary of State, but a bureaucrat that works in that office decided that he couldn’t quite tell who that person was, whether in fact he was a registered voter.  And he was, of course.  He had been registered as a Republican for years and everything, so, we knew we didn’t have any issue there. And unfortunately we had to go to court to take care of it but now we’re moving onward.  Here we go, to beat Michael Bennet.

CONNELL:  So you are on the ballot. Jon, why don’t you give my listeners who are not familiar with your work – why don’t you give them your elevator speech on who Jon Keyser is.

KEYSER:  Well, thanks, yeah.  And I’m a native Coloradan.  I grew up on the Western slope and I’m a  blue-collar Coloradan. My dad was a construction worker.  My mom worked odd jobs to help make ends meet.  And, you know, we had a meager upbringing. But my way up was through the military.  And I graduated from the Air Force Academy.  I was very fortunate–.

CONNELL:  What year did you graduate, because you look like you’re about 17 years old.  I’m just going to say that.  I don’t know if I’m getting too old for this, but yeah, you have a youthful demeanor.

KEYSER:  Well, there’s good lighting in here.

CONNELL:  [laughs]  Not for me.  Trust me.

KEYSER:  Oh, well, yeah.  So, actually, 9/11 happened while I was at the Academy.  And that really sort of changed my whole picture on things because I was actually a freefall instructor and a jump master.  We were getting ready to jump out of an airplane and suddenly the pilots bank the plane really heavily over to one side and they told us we had to strap in and we had land immediately.  And of course, we got off the airplane when we landed, walked into the parachuting rigger’s office and saw what had happened in New York and in Washington.

CONNELL:  I can only imagine what that must have been like, being in a military Academy, because, you know, we all felt affected  —

KEYSER:  Mm-hmm.

CONNELL:  –but you knew you were affected with a capital “A” at that moment.

KEYSER:  We knew right away.  And it started with the fact that we got put on lockdown.

CONNELL:  Right.

KEYSER:  And actually they locked us down for I think it was like six weeks.

CONNELL:  And students love that.  Yeah, they love that — not being able to leave base.  That’s awesome.

KEYSER:  [chuckles] It was a long time.  And – but you know, when I graduated, we had two ground wars going on: one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.  And even though I was an Air Force guy, I thought the bigger impact that I could make serving our country would be on the ground.  So I volunteered and became an intelligence officer and I was a member of a special operations team.   And we did a capture/kill missions on memebers of Al Qaeda and the Iranian backed insurgency in 2006 and 2007.  That’s before and during the surge in Iraq.  And, uh, that was a – those were very formative years, of course. We deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places.  But it really kind of gave me the basis in my understanding of the threats that we face, not only at home but of course, abroad, and how dynamic those threats are.  And I think that’s really what we need right now, is people in our United States Senate that understand and appreciate those threats and that are ready to do what is necessary to keep our country safe and secure and economically prosperous.

CONNELL:  Well, this isn’t your first foray into politics, though.

KEYSER:  I was a member of the House Representatives in Colorado and I served in House District 25, which is the western portion of Jefferson County — about 65% of the county, or so. And so I was — during my time in the House of Representatives, I used that as an opportunity to serve my constituents and tried to be a common sense Coloradan and a common sense conservative, where you know, the first bills that I worked on were ones to repeal laws, you know,  things that I think are common sense.  We’ve got so many laws on the books now, small businesses don’t even know, in many cases, what they have to comply with.  I worked on a being a fiscal conservative.  And last year, actually, we had what was at the time the largest spending bill in the history of the state of Colorado, and it was the largest year-over-year increase in spending in the history of the state of Colorado.  And, you know, that sailed through the Republican controlled Senate.  But, you know, in the House, I stood up not only to the Democrats but to Republican leadership.  We tried to amend it.  We tried cut that bill down, and I stood up and said, “No, we’ve got to make sure were that we’re spending our money more wisely.”  And so I I certainly have demonstrated that I’m a fiscal conservative through all the different votes that I’ve had while I was in the House of Representatives.

CONNELL:  Let’s jump ahead, because I only have you for one segment.  So we’re going to kind of cut to the chase.  Let’s just do the assumed close.  Okay, Jon Keyser is the next U.S. Senator from the state of Colorado – how do you approach the people in your own party that have not seemed to be very fiscally conservative?   Because that has been my great frustration about this particular wackadoodle campaign that we’re watching right now, is that the voices of small government were out early and you’re not exactly going to get to DC with a ‘small government, cut government, cut spending’ message and have it resonate with a lot of people who are very invested in making sure their gravy is going to go home.  How do you do that?

KEYSER:  Well, I think part of that is being authentic and being who I am.  You know, I’m a second generation Coloaradan.  And I think that in Colorado, we have a set of values.  So you know, we value common sense.  We understand that you can’t continue, year after year after year after year, to spend more than you’re taking in.  And right now, our federal government has run away.  We’re not doing the things that we were supposed to be doing very well, and that’s, of course, the number one priority of the federal government, is to keep our country safe and secure.  We’re not doing that very well, and we’re doing a whole bunch of other stuff, at the same time, that we probably were never intended to do.  So, I think, really, you know, of course, the Washington establishment is going to say, yeah, that’s not a thing that they’re excited about — having someone come in and say that they’re going to stand up and be a fiscal conservative. And get our house back in order.  But, you know what, I’m a husband and I’m a father of two kids.  And you know, when I think about my son and daughter – Jack and Eleanor – I know that unless we get our fiscal house in order, here, they’re not going to have a country.  And so, you know, we’re now facing 19 – almost 20 – trillion dollars in debt, and I think about the fact that they’re looking at $60,000 for every man, woman, and child in the entire country.  You know, that’s it.  We have got to focus on making sure that we can actually pay for the things that we have to do, and that we return government down to a common sense level, where it was intended.  And I believe that is at the state or local level.

CONNELL:  Where—what is your stance – can you encapsulate your foreign policy attitude because of your experience.  I mean, you didn’t just sort of watch these wars on television.  You watched them from the ground.


CONNELL:  How  — what would be your foreign policy?  How do you encapsulate that?

KEYSER:  Well, certainly, my experience is not the, you know, briefing papers and it’s not – as you said – Foreign Policy magazine.  It’s having served in the Middle East, overseas, and Iraq and Afghanistan, other places.  And you know, I think that one of the reasons why we need to have people in our federal government that have served in our military, is that when you’ve been to war, you know that war is the last resort.

CONNELL:  Right.

KEYSER:  But sometimes you have to go to war.

CONNELL:  Right.

KEYSER:  And when you do go to war, you do it with overwhelming force, you meet your objectives, and you go home.  And so I want to be — make sure that we have people that are representing us here in Colorado.  We have a whole bunch of military installations.  We need people that understand the nature of the threats that we face, and are ready to do what’s necessary to keep us safe and secure and prosperous.

CONNELL:  I want to come back to that.  I’m talking with Jon Keyser. He is running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate.  But first, we’ve got to tak a quick check on traffic. We’ll be right back. momentarily.

[commercial break]

CONNELL:  […] Jon Keyser visiting with us.  He is on the ballot for the primary to – he wants to unseat Michael Bennet, ultimately.  But first he’s got to get through this primary process.  Before the break, I asked you about your foreign policy.  So, let me see if I can encapsulate it:  if we have to fight, go over, fight to win, and then leave.  So, it doesn’t sound like you’re super keen on nation building.

KEYSER:  You know, it’s something I think we’ve not done very well.  We’ve been asking a lot of our military, and certainly our military has stepped up and done a phenomenal job over the last 15 years, which is, you know, certainly the longest period of prolonged war we’ve had in our nation’s history.  You know, we have millennial’s now that are graduating from college and they’ve never known anything but an America at war.

CONNELL:  Right.

KEYSER:  And that’s really concerning to me.  You know, we don’t have to live this way.  We can defeat this enemy.  We can. But not with this current administration.  We can’t.  We don’t have a strategy right now with President Obama, and of course, Michael Bennet has been absolutely disastrous for Colorado.  He voted for the Iran deal.  He has voted a number of times to support the President’s plan to import the world’s most dangerous terrorists from Guantánamo Bay to the United States, and probably right here to Colorado.  Of course, he voted against common sense things, like screening refugees and making sure we know here they’ve been.  Michael Bennet’s foreign policy has been dangerous, frankly, for Colorado and it’s time that we need a change.

CONNELL:  Well, I don’t disagree with anything you just said, by the way.  So, let’s get into some domestic issues.  When it comes to things like social issues, do you weigh in?  And if so, how – in what measure?

KEYSER:  Well, I think these are all issues that we have to talk about, right?  If it’s a social issue – if I get a question, I always answer the question.  But, I’ll tell you, as we’ve traveled around the state – here, I’ve put about 10,000 miles on the truck – it’s pretty interesting, because again and again, what I’m hearing from Coloradans is people are scared.  People are frightened, because they know that right now, with the leadership that we have in Washington DC, they’re worried about the safety and security of this country.   They’re worried about another San Bernardino.  They’re worried that a Paris or a Brussels is going to happen right here in the United States.  And as a career intelligence officer, as somebody who has had a top secret security clearance my entire adult life, I share that concern.  It’s a real concern.  And frankly, it is much worse than most people even imagine.  We have an enemy in radical Islamic terror that has declared war on us.  Now, this isn’t a war of our choosing, but they have declared war on us and I think that we need to take that fight and fight and defeat radical Islamic terrorists overseas with our all-volunteer military and not leave that up to emergency responders and sheriffs and law enforcement.  That is just not the way to do it.

CONNELL:  What are your thoughts – Donald Trump has made a whole lot of hay talking about building a wall on the southern border.  But from a security perspective, what do you do about the southern border?

KEYSER:  Well, so right now, I’m an intelligence officer that’s assigned to United States Southern Commnad, and so we — the area of responsibility that we have is Central and South America and the Caribbean.  And so I understand at a very finite detail the threats that we face that are coming up through our southern border.  And they’re real threats.  And so, any discussion about immigration is a national security discussion.  You know, we have things out there like ISIS – their chief propaganda magazine that they sent out all over the world — it’s called The Beat Magazine.  And in one of the issues, they actually talk about in there a plan to bring weapons and personnel through the Middle East – down to Africa and then through South America then Central America.  And they mock us for the fact that we have such porous borders.  Our southern border is so porous.  So, that is a national security discussion that we’ve got we’ve got to have, and people in Washington DC been talking about for decades.

CONNELL:  Well, Jon, we’re almost out of time.  I’m sure we’ll visit again before the primary.  I’d like to.  I’m going to try and have everybody on, now that we know who is going to be there.

KEYSER:  Yeah.

CONNELL:  But, with your last two minutes, why should people vote for you?  Why should people choose you out of the list of candidates that have made the ballot?

KEYSER:  You know, Fox News had an interesting article, here, this past weekend.  They were talking, Mandy, about the fact that we’ve been a war now in this country for the longest period in our nation’s history.  And at that same time, we have now the fewest number of people — the smallest percentage of people in our federal government, our Congress, that have served in the military, and that, certainly, have been to war.  That’s really concerning to me, because all around the world we have national security crises that are on a hair trigger.  It is a dangerous world out there, and we need people with a steady hand, that understand the natures of the threats that we face at home and abroad, and are ready to stand up with a backbone and pursue policies that are going to make sure that we stay safe and secure and economically prosperous here in Colorado.  And that’s exactly what I will do.

CONNELL:  I may regret asking this question.  Have you decided who you would like to see as president, at this point?

KEYSER:   You know, I’ve decided that I’m supporting the Republican nominee.  I’m absolutely certain that they are going to be much better than an avowed socialist or a woman who is under the active investigation of the FBI.  You know, this is a really important year in 2016 because we’re not just voting for president.  We’re voting, obviously, for the control of the Senate and the
Senate race here in Colorado is absolutely critical in maintaining a Republican Senate majority.   And the reason why that is so important, especially this year, is because our constitutional rights hang in the balance right now.  They hang in the balance because of the recent unfortunate passing of Justice Scalia.  So, the next Senate majority will be deciding who will replace Justice Scalia.  And I believe that should be someone who is in the same vein as Justice
Scalia:  an originalist, someone who adheres to the written word of the Constitution.  I firmly believe that because our Second Amendment rights, our First Amendment rights — they all hang in the balance right now. It is so critical.   This election in 2016 is one that I’m confident that my kids, in the very near future, are going to be reading about in their history books.  And I’m very optimistic that they’re going to see, in 2016, that the year that we got back on the right trajectory as a country, as a state, and we sent the new generation of leaders to lead this country forward.  And that’s why I’m asking for people’s vote.

CONNELL:  You can find out more online if you go to my page on  Click on the Mandy Connell page and I put a link to Jon’s website, so you can find out more about him.  And if you’d like to support him, you can do that there.