Jul 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: McConnell pledges he's "all in" on Colorado Senate race

Joe O'Dea gets major support from Mitch McConnell.

Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made a surprise appearance Tuesday night at a Capitol Hill fundraiser for Joe O'Dea, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Colorado who is pledging to compete aggressively for Democrat Michael Bennet's seat.

Why it matters: With signs Republican candidates may face struggles in battleground states including Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia, the party's hopes of retaking the majority may depend on bluer Colorado.

Driving the news: "I just want to assure everybody, we're going to be all-in in Colorado," McConnell told the assembled crowd, according to a person who attended the event.

  • Calling O'Dea "the perfect candidate for the nature of your state," McConnell emphasized: "We think we can win this race."
  • "I wanted to dispel any notion that you may have that we're not going to play in Colorado."

Details: Also in attendance: National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Rick Scott, Senate Republican Whip John Thune, Republican Senate conference chairman John Barrasso and former Sen. Cory Gardner, the last Republican to win a Senate race in Colorado.

By the numbers: Colorado backed President Biden by 13 points and hasn't voted for a GOP president since 2004. But Republicans point to Gardner's unexpected victory in 2014 in a red wave as a blueprint for O'Dea.

Big picture: O'Dea is a political unicorn for the party at a time when Republican voters prefer MAGA-aligned candidates.

  • In an interview with Axios, he called himself a pro-choice centrist who's running a campaign focused on tackling inflation and cracking down on crime.
  • "We need more moderate candidates. We need candidates that can win in Colorado. If you’re so far to the right that you can’t win a purple state, that’s a non-starter," O'Dea said.
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