No Colorado Republican has held a statewide office since 2019, aside from University of Colorado at-large Regent Heidi Ganahl. Democrats hold both U.S. Senate seats, and the offices of governor, attorney general, state treasurer and secretary of state.
Senate candidate Joe O’Dea poses the Republican Party’s best chance of winning at least one statewide office in November. Republican voters would be smart to give him a landslide victory over his primary opponent, State Rep. Ron Hanks, in the June 28 primary.
In the general election, O’Dea would provide voters with a stark contrast to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. While Bennet grew up in Washington, D.C. — attending elite schools and later an Ivy League law school — O’Dea is a life-long working-class Coloradan. He dropped out of Colorado State University in his senior year to start a phenomenally successful construction company and other successful businesses.
O’Dea was adopted at birth by a Denver cop and stay-at-home mom. In any casual conversation with him, it quickly becomes apparent that hard work has forged his character. He grew up entitled to nothing and earned everything he has.
“I don’t begrudge Bennet’s privilege,” O’Dea said. “What I do begrudge is that Bennet has used his privilege to help the Democratic party, not the people of this country.”
A blue-collar millionaire, O’Dea donated more than a half-million dollars to his primary campaign and worked his way onto the ballot one signature at a time. Crime, drugs and inflation are among the reasons he chose to resist his comfort zone and pursue the rigors of a campaign for public office.
No one should see O’Dea’s aspirations as pie-in-a-blue-state-sky, given Bennet’s perplexing low-profile. When Bennet ran in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, he did not garner 1% support by his fellow Democrats in a statewide poll. This year, a poll commissioned by Ready Colorado found Bennet in a dead heat against any generic Republican.
As Colorado leads the nation in bank robberies, stolen cars, and a soaring fentanyl overdose rate, a self-made businessman and son of a respected career cop may appeal to the masses of unaffiliated voters who are not inherently political. O'Dea comes across as an intelligent everyman who eschews anything politically extreme or doctrinaire. He merely wants peace, safety, justice and economic stability restored to Colorado.
That probably explains why nearly every law enforcement association in Colorado supports him.
“Our cities are under siege, and law enforcement is eager to stand with candidates who have the courage to stand with us,” said Nick Rogers, president of the Denver Police Protective Association in a statement endorsing O'Dea. “Joe is a man of wisdom, integrity and guts. Joe will represent the voice of working people, and Joe will stand up for the police."
In a conversation with The Gazette, O’Dea displayed an unusual level of economic erudition. He knows that inflation cripples middle-class and low-income households and small businesses. He understands that inflation is more than rising prices, and includes scarcities of goods, services, and commodities relative to the volume and velocity of currency. He knows we need surpluses of oil and gas to produce enough to counter inflation and bring down prices. We often get blank stares when discussing these concepts with traditional politicians with elite diplomas.
The Gazette’s editorial board did not meet with O'Dea’s primary opponent, Rep. Hanks. We did not need to after learning of his plans to run by relitigating the 2020 election. People don’t vote to overturn the past. They vote to ensure a better future. Aside from a losing message, Hanks missed nearly half of all votes while serving on the all-important House Energy Committee. Bennet must surely hope for Hanks to win the nomination.
In trying times, good people step up to fight for stability. They want what’s right for society, not extreme revolutionary agendas. Fortunately for Colorado, O’Dea has come to fight for what’s right. Republicans and unaffiliated voters will help themselves by making O’Dea a nominee for the U.S. Senate.
Colorado Springs Gazette editorial board