Jul 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

First look: Joe O'Dea contributes half of $2 million Q2 fundraising haul

 Joe O'Dea celebrates the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.

Joe O'Dea celebrates the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate over state Rep. Ron Hanks at Mile High Station in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

Joe O'Dea, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Colorado, raised roughly $2 million in the second quarter of 2022 — $1 million of which he personally contributed, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The political newcomer's self-funding is keeping his race competitive against Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet. The question is whether a broader stable of Republican donors will get on board with O'Dea in order to flip the seat, Axios Denver's John Franks notes.

  • His campaign now has roughly $840,000 on hand as it gears up for the general election.

The big picture: Democratic groups spent around $10 million in an effort to boost O'Dea's far-right primary challenger Ron Hanks — painting O'Dea as GOP-lite in comparison — in the hopes of giving Bennet a weaker nominee to run against in November.

  • But despite those efforts, O'Dea, the CEO of a Colorado construction company and a first-time candidate for office, won his primary last month.
  • Now some Democrats worry they may have helped strengthen the rival they feared.

Between the lines: Bennet isn't among the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Senate Republicans' campaign arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is still hyper-focused on battleground races in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and New Hampshire.

  • But many outside conservative groups see Colorado as the next big pickup opportunity for Republicans given the current dynamics in the state.
  • Rising inflation and President Biden’s sinking approval ratings have further fueled their eagerness to get more involved in the Colorado race.
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