O'Dea Underdog ad

Colorado Republican U.S. Senate nominee Joe O'Dea, right, is pictured with family members in a biographical TV ad to be released by his campaign on Saturday. O'Dea is challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Joe O'Dea hits Colorado airwaves with new TV ads this weekend, including a spot narrated by his wife that describes the construction company owner as a lifelong underdog more concerned about the country than his political party.

O'Dea is challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who is seeking a third full term.

"My husband Joe's been an underdog his whole life," says Celeste O'Dea in the 30-second spot, which starts airing Saturday on Denver broadcast stations and statewide on cable channels.

August 26, 2022

"Adopted at birth. Union carpenter. Left college early. Started a construction company from our basement. Joe's a fighter, always has been," she says. "He cares about the country, not a political party. When Joe O'Dea says he's American before he's a Republican, he means it. When Joe says he will fight for the underdogs trying to get ahead, he will, because he is one."

In a statement to Colorado Politics, O'Dea characterized his wife as his "rock" and said they're "in this race together."

Said O'Dea: "I'm running to be a voice for working Americans, for the underdogs out there. I know Bennet has the money, but I never do anything halfway, and I like being the underdog."

A spokesman for Bennet's campaign said O'Dea's message rejecting partisanship doesn't hold water.

"O’Dea continues to contradict himself, but he isn’t fooling anyone," Bennet campaign manager Justin Lamorte told Colorado Politics in a text message. "O’Dea said he would put Trump before Colorado and vote for him again in 2024, vote for a nationwide abortion ban, and vote against the law to lower prescription drug costs and energy costs for working people."

O'Dea also is launching a Spanish-language ad that repeats many of biographical points made in the other ad calls the first-time candidate "the voice for working people."

In Spanish, the ad's narrator says O'Dea will support the police and rid the stress of crime, bring down inflation and gas prices, secure the border and protect Dreamers, a phrase describing undocumented children of immigrants who were brought to the United States at a young age.

The 30-second ad started running on Friday on Spanish-language stations, O'Dea's campaign said.

“We were able to live our American Dream, and we want future generations to be able to have the same opportunities that we had," the O'Deas said in a joint statement released by his campaign.

"For decades we've gotten to work with first- and second-generation Hispanic or Latino immigrants who are planting their roots here in Colorado and also want to leave a better future for their kids and grandkids. This is the American story, and we want to keep it going." 

O'Dea is spending nearly $600,000 to air the ads through September, roughly equal to the amount he has spent on TV, digital and text messages in August, his campaign said.

Compared to Bennet, the Republican is the clear underdog when it comes to media saturation, according to figures released by the Democrat's campaign, which has spent just over $1.9 million on a series of TV ads since mid-July.

So far, outside groups aren't spending heavily in the Colorado race, which is rated "lean Democrat" or "likely Democrat" by national election forecasters.

Earlier this month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee dropped $250,000 on an ad linking Bennet with President Joe Biden. A super-PAC mostly funded by wealthy Coloradans has spent $150,000 this month on an ad boosting O'Dea.

Mail ballots start to go out to most Colorado voters in just over seven weeks. Election Day is Nov. 8.

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