Jun 23, 2022 - News

1-minute voter guide: GOP primary for U.S. Senate will speak volumes

Ron Hanks, right, speaks at a rally. Joe O'Dea attends a campaign event. Photos: Hyoung Chang/Denver Post via Getty Images; Courtesy of Joe O'Dea
Ron Hanks, left, speaks at a rally. Joe O'Dea, right, attends a campaign event. Photos: Hyoung Chang/Denver Post via Getty Images; Courtesy of Joe O'Dea

Only two candidates from a massive field of contenders made the ballot in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, and they are staking out different turf.

Why it matters: Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is one of the most vulnerable incumbents facing reelection in November, but the Republicans' odds of beating him depends on who they nominate.

State of play: Ron Hanks, who served in the military for three decades and worked in the oil and gas industry, is a first-term state representative from Fremont County. He has emerged as one of the chamber's most conservative members, which diverges from his previous run for Congress in California.

  • Hanks launched his low-budget campaign with a video showing him shooting a Dominion voting machine — part of his unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.
  • He opposes abortion at all stages of pregnancy, doesn't support mail-in ballots and wants to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education.

Joe O'Dea is a first-time candidate who is pouring more than $1 million into his campaign to fund a major advertising blitz. He made his fortune owning a construction company and two event centers in Denver.

  • He's billing himself as the pragmatic option, as a moderate who believes in human-caused climate change, doesn't oppose all abortion and wouldn't vote to repeal the federal health care law signed by President Obama.
  • He also accepts the outcomes of the 2020 election.

What to watch: In a recent debate, Hanks wouldn't commit to accepting the results of the primary if he loses.

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