Both parties quietly say the Colorado senate seat currently held by Democrat empty suit Michael Bennet could very well flip to GOP challenger Joe O’Dea — despite him lagging far behind in every poll taken so far.
O’Dea runs a successful construction company and has never held or run for public office before this year. Nevertheless, earlier this month CNN rated the O’Dea-Bennet race as one of the “10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022,” and today POLITICO reports that “top party operatives have mused that Joe O’Dea is the best Republican candidate running.”
Colorado has very quickly turned from a swing state to deep blue. No Republican has won statewide office since 2014, the same year Democrats promulgated all-mail-in voting.
Not that I’m implying anything — wink, wink.
So the multimillion-dollar question — with both parties now throwing massive amounts of money at the race — is this: Why does anyone think that a low-polling neophyte Republican has any chance against an entrenched Democrat?
One is that O’Dea might be correctly reading the mood of the state electorate. Colorado is one of the few states where Presidentish Joe Biden’s approval rating is actually above water, if only barely. In my state, I’m sad to say, voters approve of Biden’s performance by 44.5% and disapprove by 44.1%.
Of course, that’s within the margin of error, so maybe I should say that Colorado is one of the states where Biden is at his least unpopular.
Nationwide, Biden’s presence is so toxic that most Democrat midterm candidates have politely asked him to stay away from their states or districts, when they aren’t actively campaigning against their own president’s record.
That isn’t true here. Bennet both welcomed and appeared with Biden at the Camp Hale National Monument dedication this weekend.
Bennet has tried and failed since 2011 to get Camp Hale — a famous WWII training center — designated as a national monument by legislation, so Biden did it as a campaign favor by executive fiat.
Held in the deep mountains 90 minutes west of Denver, the dedication wasn’t exactly a super-high-profile event, to be sure. And as former Colorado state GOP chair Dick Wadhams told POLITICO, “[Bennet has] had this huge spending edge, and yet he has to beg and plead for the president to come out here to do something that Bennet could not get done in the Senate.”
While Bennet and Biden were busy talking about pretty much anything other than the economy, rising crime, and other issues Americans say they care about, O’Dea has been hammering them.
Bennet blames inflation on “broken global supply chains,” while O’Dea blames the “$1.9 trillion reckless spending bill that got put in place by Michael Bennet. He cast the deciding vote back in March of last year, it’s caused record inflation.”
O’Dea has largely avoided “old” issues like the 2020 election and the January 6 not-an-insurrection.
His campaign website says:
Gas is topping $4 a gallon in Colorado, inflation is the highest it has been in decades, crime has skyrocketed, our national debt has hit $30 trillion, and our foreign policy has been a failure. It’s time for a conservative outsider like Joe to fight for working Americans in Washington D.C. [Emphasis added]
O’Dea is downplaying the Republican part and highlighting the conservative part. As a Colorado conservative, I can’t tell you how much Colorado Republicans have disappointed me over the last dozen years.
O’Dea describes himself as a “Republican Joe Manchin,” able to cross the aisle.
Given how far Colorado has tilted left, that might be the only way for a Republican to win a Senate seat around here.
How O’Dea as Manchin’s mirror image would actually work in practice is anyone’s guess, but Colorado deserves something better than an unaccomplished Democrat rubber stamp like Bennet.