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Ernest LuningErnest LuningJanuary 23, 20169min709
Tim Leonard
Tim Leonard

GOLDEN – Tim Leonard, an Evergreen real estate developer and former candidate for state Senate, has been officially chosen in a resounding vote by the House District 25 vacancy committee to replace outgoing state Rep. Jon Keyser. Leonard will walk into an already boisterous session of the General Assembly Monday when he takes the Keyser’s seat. Keyser earlier announced his intent to formally resign the seat to run for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

Leonard was selected by a 22 member vacancy committee with 21 members voting at a meeting held Saturday at the Jefferson County Government Center, commonly known as the Taj Mahal. After only one round of voting, the vacancy committee selected Leonard out of seven total candidates who had thrown their hats into the ring.

Tim Leonard delivers his speech to the House District 25 vacancy committee on Jan. 23 at the Jefferson County Government Center. He was selected by the committee to fill the legislative seat vacated by Rep. Jon Keyser, who resigned to run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Leonard received 16 out of 21 votes cast. (Photo by Ernest Luning | The Colorado Statesman)

Leonard received 16 votes to Judy Merkel’s 3 and Tom George’s 2. Eleven votes were required to win.

Leonard, a 54-year-old father of 6, ran with no primary opponent to represent Senate District 16 in 2010, but lost the General Election to Sen. Jeanne Nicholson of Black Hawk, who edged out a win by 658 votes. He ran for the same seat in 2006 on the American Constitution Party ticket and was the American Constitution Party nominee for governor in 1998, with Leslie Hanks, currently president of American Right to Life, as his running mate.

House District 25 Republican vacancy committee candidates Tim Leonard, Derec Shuler and Judy Merkel say the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the Jan. 23 meeting in Golden to fill the seat left open by the resignation of state Rep. Jon Keyser, R-Morrison, who is stepping down to run for the U.S. Senate. Leonard was elected from among seven candidates to fill the vacancy by a wide margin on the first ballot. (Photo by Ernest Luning | The Colorado Statesman)
House District 25 Republican vacancy committee candidates Tim Leonard, Derec Shuler and Judy Merkel say the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the Jan. 23 meeting in Golden to fill the seat left open by the resignation of state Rep. Jon Keyser, R-Morrison, who is stepping down to run for the U.S. Senate. Leonard was elected from among seven candidates to fill the vacancy by a wide margin on the first ballot. (Photo by Ernest Luning | The Colorado Statesman)

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business and economics from well-known conservative alma mater Hillsdale College and a master’s business associate in real estate finance from DU.

Leonard was the odds-on favorite going into the vacancy committee meeting, having secured the endorsements of eight of “the most conservative members of the Colorado State House.”

State Rep.-elect Tim Leonard, second from right, is congratulated by legislators state Reps. Kim Ransom, R-Parker, Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, and Justin Everett, R-Littleton, and state Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, after winning appointment to fill the House District 25 vacancy on Jan. 23 at the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden. Leonard will replace state Rep. Jon Keyser, R-Morrison, who is stepping down to run for the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Ernest Luning | The Colorado Statesman)
State Rep.-elect Tim Leonard, second from right, is congratulated by legislators state Reps. Kim Ransom, R-Parker, Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, and Justin Everett, R-Littleton, and state Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, after winning appointment to fill the House District 25 vacancy on Jan. 23 at the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden. Leonard will replace state Rep. Jon Keyser, R-Morrison, who is stepping down to run for the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Ernest Luning | The Colorado Statesman)

The eight Republicans who signed a letter of endorsement were state Reps. Justin Everett, Steve Humphrey of Severance, Janak Joshi of Colorado Springs, Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, Daniel Nordberg of Colorado Springs, Kim Ransom of Parker, Lori Saine of Dacono and Kevin Van Winkle of Highlands Ranch.

The letter was sent to vacancy committee members and was authored by Everett in which he said, “Your choice will determine whether our shared values, our liberties, our freedoms will be defended here in our great State of Colorado. Leonard is a rock-ribbed conservative who will be bold, who will fight and who will never cower in the face of adversity.”

Former state Sen. Ted Harvey and Tim Leonard
Former state Sen. Ted Harvey visits with Tim Leonard before a House District 25 Republican vacancy committee meeting elected Leonard to fill the seat left open by the resignation of state Rep. Jon Keyser, R-Morrison, on Jan. 23 at the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden. (Photo by Ernest Luning | The Colorado Statesman)

Before the meeting, a spokesman for Keyser said he would not take sides in the contest, and he followed through, making no public statement for or against any candidate.

Keyser did not attend the vacancy meeting.

Leonard said in his speech delivered to the committee that Colorado has a spending crisis, but warned that Governor John Hickenlooper’s plan to classify the Hospital Provider Fee as an enterprise fund is not the answer. He also ticked off a list of what he termed constitutional crises, saying the biggest one was federal overreach, threatening the 10th Amendment.

He told The Statesman that passing construction defect reform, fixing problems with health care and transportation and reducing employer mandates are among his priorities.

Leonard plans to be sworn in Monday, so that residents of the district aren’t without representation for any period of time.

– ernest@coloradostatesman.com

and

– jared@coloradostatesman.com