Jun 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Joe O'Dea wins GOP Senate primary to challenge Michael Bennet in Colorado

Joe O'Dea at a U.S. Senate campaign event. Photo courtesy of O'Dea campaign

Joe O'Dea, a wealthy businessman and first-time candidate, won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, per the AP.

Driving the news: The win gives Republicans new hope they'll beat Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in November and take back control of the upper chamber.

Why it matters: The Democrats' big bet didn't pay off. The party meddled in the GOP primary by spending millions to help boost rival Ron Hanks, one of Colorado's most prominent election conspiracy promoters, because they considered him the weaker candidate to compete in November’s midterm.

  • The campaign blitz pitched O'Dea as a moderate and may have only strengthened his chances to defeat Bennet, who is considered one of the top most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the 2022 midterms.

Catch up quick: O'Dea, who owns a construction company and event venues in Denver, drew support from the GOP establishment and countered Democratic ads with $1.5 million from his own pocket.

  • Compared to Hanks, he came across as moderate — believing in human-caused climate change, accepting the outcome of the 2020 election and allowing for abortions in some circumstances.

The other side: Hanks is one of the state Legislature's most conservative members, advocating for a ban on all abortions, eliminating mail ballots and suing the state's election chief.

  • He believes — without substantiated evidence — that Trump won the 2020 election and acknowledged he went behind police lines at the Jan. 6 rally at the U.S. Capitol.
  • In a recent forum, he refused to commit to accepting the results of Tuesday's primary election.

What's next: O'Dea starts the general election with an opportunity to capitalize on President Biden's declining support in Colorado and challenge Bennet for the political middle that decides elections in the state.

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