Oct 17, 2022 - Politics

Trump trashes GOP Senate candidate Joe O'Dea in Colorado

Photo illustration of President Donald Trump next to an arrow and ballot symbols

Former President Trump. Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former President Trump remained uncharacteristically quiet in Colorado's midterm elections. Until now.

Driving the news: He took to social media Monday to trash Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O'Dea, labeling him a "Republican in name only," and urging followers not to support the contender.

  • "MAGA doesn't vote for stupid people with big mouths," Trump posted on Truth Social.

Why it matters: The race is one of the most-watched in the nation and Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet's re-election could help determine which major party controls the U.S. Senate.

  • But Republicans can't win in blue-tilting Colorado — where Democrats hold a 3-percentage point, or 125,000 voter, registration advantage — without a unified base and support from a significant number of unaffiliated voters.

The backstory: Trump kept his mouth shut in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, despite the candidacy from a loyal supporter, state Rep. Ron Hanks, who went behind police lines at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

  • O'Dea defeated Hanks in the June primary and moved to distance himself from Trump, saying he would support the ex-president's re-election in 2024. But it went largely unnoticed by Trump himself.

The intrigue: That changed after O'Dea repeated his anti-Trump stance Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," and mentioned Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott as top GOP choices for a presidential bid.

  • Trump's opposition only exacerbates O'Dea's weakness with Republicans. Earlier in the race, O'Dea alienated some in his party by expressing support for same-sex marriage and abortion rights in the first 20 weeks.
  • Hanks, his former rival, endorsed Libertarian candidate Brian Peotter earlier this month.

What he's saying: O'Dea issued a statement saying Trump is "entitled to his opinion, but I'm my own man and I'll call it like I see it."

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