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Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet is facing fresh Republican opposition in his bid for a third term with the entrance of construction executive Joe O’Dea into the 2022 Colorado Senate race.
Bennet is favored for reelection in a state that has not voted Republican for a statewide federal office since 2014. But O’Dea began his campaign Thursday with a war chest of nearly $500,000 — about half of that raised during a monthslong exploratory process and about half of that self-funded — and was scheduled to immediately launch a “six-figure” advertising buy in Colorado’s key media markets.
Over the next month, spots will run on broadcast and cable television, on the radio, and on digital platforms in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Grand Junction. Meanwhile, if O’Dea’s mix of campaign strategists is any indication, the first-time candidate is positioning himself as a consensus Republican who welcomes both the traditional wing of the GOP and that loyal to former President Donald Trump.
“Joe’s brand of blue-collar, sweat-equity conservatism is going to play very well with Republicans and swing voters alike,” said Jefferson Thomas, senior adviser to the O’Dea campaign, who served as the Colorado political director for the Trump campaign in 2016.
The days of the Rocky Mountain State being a battleground contested by both parties are long gone. Democrats control the legislature and all statewide constitutional offices, and President Joe Biden defeated Trump there in 2020 by a whopping 13.5 percentage points. That means even if President Joe Biden’s job approval rating remains underwater when voters go to the polls next year, Colorado will be a tough nut to crack for O’Dea.
And that’s if the 59-year-old wins his party’s nomination. At least five other candidates are running in the Republican primary.
But O’Dea’s team, stocked with Republican operatives with deep experience in Colorado politics, is confident. They believe the candidate’s image as a self-made businessman and political outsider fits with what voters are looking for and will attempt to frame the race against Bennet, 56, as “concrete” versus “Wall Street.”
Bennet’s voting record is decidedly liberal. During Trump’s term, the senator voted with the 45th president just 27.3% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
But over the years, Bennet has cultivated the image of a pragmatic centrist — a strategy he could rely on in the midterm elections to distance himself from an unpopular president if Biden’s numbers do not improve.
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Original Author: David M. Drucker
Original Location: GOP moves to put Colorado Senate race in play with CEO candidate