Joe O’Dea enjoys horseback riding. He competed in the Team Penning event until recently, working with two other riders to sort numbered calves and “put them up” in order and as quickly as possible.
He won three U.S. Team Penning Associating world titles over the course of about a dozen years of competition, the most recent in 2018. Celeste, his wife, used to be a member of a women’s squad.
“We have a lot of fun, and it brings us closer together,” O’Dea added. However, the couple’s attention is currently focused on another challenge in which they expect to succeed: the contest for the United States Senate in Colorado.
In the Republican primary, O’Dea is one of two candidates vying to take on Democratic incumbent Senator Michael Bennet in November.
Although competing in a rodeo-style event may not appear to have much in connection with politics, O’Dea stated that many of the lessons he learned on a horse are now helping him in his current position: “How to be competitive, how to understand what you need to do next, and how to develop a team.”
O’Dea, 60, was adopted as a baby and raised by a police officer father and a stay-at-home mother in southeast Denver. O’Dea claimed his family was not particularly political when he was growing up, and he didn’t go to the polls with his parents or ever canvass for a candidate.
Instead, he has spent much of his adult life focusing on business. O’Dea went to Colorado State University but dropped out to focus full-time on a construction company he established while still in school.
Concrete Express, which was founded 34 years ago, presently employs around 300 employees. It’s based at Mile High Station, a venue owned by O’Dea near Empower Field.
O’Dea was initially drawn to politics by the building sector.
“The first time I got truly interested,” the first-time candidate said, “I went to a legislative conference with the Colorado Contractors Association back in approximately 1996.” “So I started thinking about how this would influence my business.” It was a fantastic learning opportunity.”
It’s this corporate viewpoint that O’Dea, who is campaigning as a political outsider, says he wants to bring to what he calls a “broken” political system. Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States.
“They aren’t addressing the demands of working people in the United States.” And if they are, they are slow to react,” O’Dea explained. “I like this nation, and we require representation capable of saying ‘this is enough.'” And that’s what they’ll receive if they vote for me.”
If elected, O’Dea would be the first Colorado senator since Eugene Milliken in the 1940s to have no prior government or legislative experience. (When he was appointed in 2010, Bennett had never held an elected position before, but he had worked as Superintendent of Denver Public Schools and as Chief of Staff to then-Mayor John Hickenlooper for two years.)
On Friday, June 3, 2022, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea speaks with former Arapahoe County D.A. George Brauchler during a Western Conservative Summit discussion.
In terms of politics, O’Dea has centred his campaign on problems that most people are concerned about: inflation, rising gas prices, and crime.
And he’s attempting to persuade people that his business expertise and working-class roots will help him get things done on those issues as a Senator.
“I can tell you that nothing gets done unless two parties can agree,” O’Dea explained. “So I’m going to use those skills in Washington to persuade folks that ‘here, I’ve got some ideas on how we accomplish this.'” I’ll pay attention. I’m an excellent listener. You should also be respectful.”
While a willingness to compromise is a desirable attribute for some general election voters, “fighter” is a more popular descriptor among Republican primary voters, especially when it comes to more heated subjects like the 2020 presidential election’s validity and abortion.
O’Dea has tried to tread a tight line in his campaign, avoiding alienating his core supporters but maintaining stances that could help him appeal to a larger audience.
O’Dea told an audience at a candidate event earlier this year that he does not believe the election was rigged and that “Joe Biden is our president.” “He’s a dreadful president.” Instead of focused on 2020, he believes the GOP should “stick to the issues.”
With the Supreme Court appearing to be on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade, a long-held conservative goal, O’Dea takes a softer stance on abortion than many other GOP contenders.
He believes abortion should be lawful early in pregnancy and that it should be permitted in exceptional medical emergencies. It’s a recognition that Colorado voters have long backed abortion access on the ballot and in the statehouse.
Not everyone will agree on every subject, according to O’Dea. “I know my opinion on abortion differs from yours,” he told a Western Conservative Summit audience, “but we share the same aim.” I favour a nationwide ban on elective late-term abortion, a national ban on taxpayer-funded abortion, and a national parental notice requirement.”
Republican Senate candidates are split on their views on abortion.
These ideas are diametrically opposed to those of Ron Hanks, the fiery state representative O’Dea is running against in the primary.
Hanks is attempting to portray himself as a conservative by endorsing Trump’s policies, claiming that the 2020 election was rigged, and opposing all forms of legal abortion, with no exceptions.
The conservative guests at the Western summit applauded Hanks’ positions significantly more than O’Dea’s. Even Nevertheless, O’Dea supporters are not discouraged by the lack of enthusiasm from the base.
Dave Harberson, an independent voter from Wheat Ridge who generally votes Republican, said, “I prefer the conservative approach.” “Joe has always… made sound decisions and is a patriot. So, absolutely, I’m going to back him up.”
In the end, O’Dea believes the concerns he’s concentrated on – inflation, gas, and crime — will drive Republican primary and general election voters.
“There are a lot of issues that people want to address here in Colorado,” he remarked. “Most people want to talk about how we’re going to fix this economy,” he says, despite the fact that other people want to focus on social concerns.
Despite his moderate tone and past donations to both Republican and Democratic politicians, O’Dea claims to have always been a Republican, beginning with his first vote for Ronald Reagan. And he claims to be a true conservative. For him, this means believing in a “small, efficient government” that accomplishes the core tasks “we need it to do, that it was created to accomplish.”
In Colorado’s Senate GOP primary, who is the major newcomer? Democratic political parties
This list would include law enforcement and the military, as well as infrastructure and a more limited social safety net.
O’Dea believes the government should assist with medical care for individuals who cannot pay it otherwise, but not with more general or long-term assistance. “Paying folks to remain at home and do nothing isn’t my idea of welfare.” Work requirements exist for many of the main social safety net programmes, such as food stamps or TANF, the latest incarnation of welfare.
On Bennet’s flagship issue, extending the Child Tax Credit, O’Dea stated that he supports the idea, but only for low-income families. The amount of the credit rose as a result of the pandemic expansion, and households were able to receive it on a monthly basis. The full child tax credit is available to families earning up to $150,000 or single filers earning up to $75,000. After that, it was phased out.
While O’Dea’s company provides paid family and medical leave, he is unsure whether Congress should enact a national policy. “I’m not sure that we want to make that a permanent thing,” he says.
He attributes the significant spike in inflation on government expenditures and the Federal Reserve’s “asleep at the wheel” policy.
“We need to reduce the size of government.” We need to get back to pre-COVID spending levels. “For COVID, there’s no reason to maintain some of these initiatives in place,” O’Dea said.
The factor of electability
With the primary approaching, many are looking ahead to November to see who has the best chance of defeating Bennet. Republicans haven’t won a significant statewide office since 2014, but the political winds are heavily in their favour this fall.
“I believe Joe has the best chance of doing that,” said Littleton Republican Chuck Williams. He believes O’Dea will reach out to people of all political stripes. “I believe it will appeal to a broader audience than Republicans, which is essential to me.”
Electability, rather than the specific policy stances of any Republican contender, may be the deciding factor for voters like Williams.
The O’Dea campaign has filed a complaint over shady mailers claiming that the Republican Party has endorsed his opponent.
Some Democratic-aligned organisations appear to be concerned about this as well; in recent days, they’ve spent millions of dollars into advertising and mailers targeted at bolstering Hanks and weakening O’Dea in the primary. The O’Dea campaign has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that one of its mailers lacked necessary disclosures.
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For this run, O’Dea is putting a lot of his personal money on the line. He’s put more than $640,000 into his campaign and given it a $500,000 loan, all while raising nearly $1.2 million from donors. He has around $1 million in cash on hand as of June 8. Bennet, who is undefeated in the primary, has over $7 million in the bank heading into the general election.