Nov 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Bennet defeats O'Dea to win re-election in Colorado Senate race

Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet pushed back against Republican momentum nationwide in the midterms, defeating GOP rival Joe O'Dea in Colorado, the Associated Press reported.

Why it matters: President Biden and other top party leaders traveled to Colorado to shore up support for the two-term lawmaker.

State of play: Bennet stuck close to the Biden and Democratic Party playbook, making access to abortion the leading issue in the race.

  • Likewise, he touted his work with the White House to deliver big-dollar projects for Colorado, including the infrastructure package and Inflation Reduction Act.

The other side: O'Dea, a first-time candidate, ran as a self-described moderate who would buck his party, a proven model in Colorado that didn't work again.

  • He tried to walk a middle line on abortion with his daughter saying in a campaign commercial that her father "supports a woman's right to choose."
  • But O'Dea later acknowledged he backed a previous Colorado ballot measure to prohibit abortions after 22 weeks, and he now backs a ban at 20 weeks.

Of note: The GOP candidate distanced himself from Donald Trump — drawing the ire of the former president, who called O'Dea a "Republican in name only" and urged supporters not to vote for him.

  • State Rep. Ron Hanks — O'Dea's opponent in the Republican primary — similarly trashed the party's nominee and instead urged people to vote for the libertarian candidate.
  • But the party's big names — including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sens. Rick Scott and Tim Scott and George W. Bush — all rallied to O'Dea's campaign.

Between the lines: A big wave of Democratic outside spending helped push Bennet to victory. Democratic allies poured roughly $16 million into the effort to boost Bennet and attack O'Dea, according to the Colorado Sun.

  • The total is more than double the roughly $7 million Republicans spent, in part because the party's main arm blew through its campaign cash and directed it to states other than Colorado.
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