Jeff Hays

In this file photo, then-Colorado GOP chairman Jeff Hays addresses attendees of the Colorado GOP watch party at the Denver Marriott South at Park Meadows in Lone Tree.

Jeff Hays, a former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, on Wednesday endorsed fellow Air Force Academy graduate Eli Bremer for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet.

“I have known Eli for over 10 years and worked with him extensively. Eli has been a devoted friend and trusted advisor when I succeeded him as the El Paso County GOP chair as well as when I served as the Colorado state GOP chair," said Hays in a statement.

"Eli’s knowledge of the unique Colorado political system is matched by his tenacity and unparalleled work ethic. This will be an uphill battle for the Republican Party, but if anyone can do it, Eli can. Eli has a proven track record of determination, tactfulness, and success that will serve him well in this campaign, and in Washington.”

Hays, who taught at the Air Force Academy and helped coach the Falcons football team, chaired the state GOP for one term from 2017 to 2019.

Bremer said in a statement that he was honored to have Hays' support, adding that he sought his advice before declaring his candidacy.

"Working with him for over a decade has been a pleasure and an honor," Bremer said. "I’m truly humbled to have the endorsement of a man so well-versed and respected in Colorado politics.”

Bremer, a 2008 Olympian in the modern pentathlon, is one of eight Republicans running for the chance to challenge Bennet, who is seeking a third term in next year's election.

Others in the primary are state Rep. Ron Hanks of Cañon City, former congressional candidate Peter Yu, former Fort Collins Councilman and homebuilder Gino Campana, construction company owner Joe O'Dea, former conservative talk radio host Deborah Flora, former oil and gas executive Erik Aadland and businesswoman Juli Henry.