Oct 19, 2022 - Politics

1-minute voter guide: Michael Bennet faces Joe O'Dea in Senate race

Photo illustration of Michael Bennet and Joe O'Dea.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post, Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Colorado's U.S. Senate race pits a veteran lawmaker in Democrat Michael Bennet against a first-time candidate Republican Joe O'Dea.

Why it matters: The race is one of the most contested in the nation and will help determine which party takes control of the U.S. Senate.

Meet the candidates: Bennet, fresh from a losing presidential campaign in 2020, is seeking re-election for his third term in the Senate.

  • The 57-year-old from Denver previously worked as a chief of staff to then-Mayor John Hickenlooper and superintendent of Denver Public Schools before being appointed to fill a Senate vacancy in 2009.

O'Dea, 60, owns Denver-based construction company Concrete Express, which employs about 300 people, and entertainment venues, including Mile High Station near Empower Field.

  • He started his company while attending Colorado State University and dropped out a few credits shy of earning a college degree.
  • If elected he would become the first Colorado senator since the 1940s without any public-sector experience.

Where they stand: Given the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision in June, abortion is a major issue in the race.

  • Bennet supports the Colorado law that provides unrestricted access to abortion.
  • O'Dea initially suggested he was "pro-choice," but later said he believes abortion should be prohibited after 20 weeks except in cases of rape, incest and risk to the physical life of the mother.

Between the lines: At the broader level, Bennet supports Biden's agenda the majority of the time and continues to push for his signature issue, the renewal of the child tax credit to give families up to $3,600.

  • He supported recent legislation to address climate change, spend millions more to upgrade infrastructure and provide pandemic relief to communities.

O'Dea is taking a more moderate approach compared to many Republican candidates and is distancing himself from former President Trump, who then publicly attacked him. He is pledging to buck his party on major issues, akin to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.


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