Invoice Clark/CQ-Roll Name, Inc through Getty Photos;David Zalubowski/AP
Democrats have been feeling extra optimistic about their prospects on this fall’s midterm elections these days, however Republicans wish to the Rocky Mountains to tug an upset of their marketing campaign to flip management of the Senate.
GOP leaders hope their nominee in Colorado — building firm CEO Joe O’Dea — can flip the blue seat crimson. He is a uncommon Republican who affirms that President Biden received the 2020 election, and thinks somebody apart from Trump ought to lead the occasion in 2024.
“I will marketing campaign for someone else and we’ll transfer the nation ahead. and that is the place I have been.” O’Dea mentioned, mentioning Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as options to Trump.
Of the roughly dozen aggressive Senate races this election cycle O’Dea is the one Republican candidate not endorsed by Trump. Within the main, he defeated right-wing election denier Ron Hanks — despite the fact that Democratic teams within the state tried to raise Hank’s candidacy.
The primary-time candidate sticks to a centrist message. “On the entire, we have got to do away with this partisanship that is simply holding us from placing good insurance policies in place that transfer America ahead. And that is why I am working. I am impartial minded. I am a conservative, however on the similar time we have got to do what’s proper for Colorado, we have got to do what’s proper for America.”
An enormous a part of O’Dea’s technique is outreach to Latino voters, who may very well be the second largest voting block within the state. At a Hispanic cultural occasion in Denver, O’Dea drank a Mexican lager and acquired his spouse earrings from an area vendor after speaking to NPR about his pitch to voters.
In contrast to the majority of his occasion, O’Dea backs protections for Dreamers and helps a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of undocumented employees. He says Congress ought to approve laws that addresses each border safety and authorized standing for immigrants. However he confused Hispanic voters inform him they’re centered on the identical issues as all Coloradans.
“They’re anxious in regards to the value of fuel and this document crime that is taking up town that is spot on their thoughts proper now,” he mentioned.
O’Dea insists if his occasion takes management and there is a slim majority that he will not vote in lockstep with GOP leaders in terms of points like abortion and immigration. “If they need my vote, then they’ll should earn it. And they’ll have to maneuver issues round to ensure that I can honor my phrase,” O’Dea mentioned.
Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has praised O’Dea’s marketing campaign. With different GOP candidates underperforming within the polls in aggressive races in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia, there’s a shut eye out for whether or not the Senate Management Fund, the tremendous PAC aligned with McConnell, will make investments assets within the state.
Over tea at an area espresso store in Denver, incumbent Michael Bennet, who retains a major benefit in fundraising heading into the autumn, pushes again on the notion that O’Dea is a reasonable who can compete right here.
“That’s that’s the nationwide media’s interpretation of what is going on on on this race,” Bennet mentioned.
Inflation, housing and abortion are key points in Colorado
Bennet spent a lot of August touring the state touting legislation Democrats passed to decrease prescription drug costs and put money into local weather packages. He agrees along with his opponent that voters are very centered on inflation.
“What individuals are having to pay for meals and gasoline is a problem. However I feel that my sense is that individuals are really seeing Washington start to work once more,” Bennet mentioned. “And after the chaos of 4 years of Donald Trump, that is actually welcome.”
Most buyers and distributors NPR spoke with on the remaining week of the Inexperienced Valley Ranch summer time farmer’s market north of downtown Denver do not know who’s working in November’s Senate race. However that they had robust emotions about what issues for his or her vote this fall.
Kettle corn vendor Leon Smith mentioned “housing and jobs” are his priorities. Smith voted for former President Trump, however he informed NPR he would not really feel compelled to solid his vote for both occasion this fall.
“Proper now, I’d simply fairly maintain it,” he mentioned. “I’d simply fairly maintain it till I am assured. And I see what which every occasion is doing proper now. Every occasion is simply nonetheless doing tit for tat. They don’t seem to be dealing with no enterprise.”
For Linda Wilson, who leans Democrat, one difficulty is high of thoughts — abortion. “After I was youthful, I had the selection, as a result of I used to be pregnant earlier than I acquired married. It was a alternative. It wasn’t an choice that I’d have chosen for myself. However I had that choice,” she mentioned.
Abortion could also be O’Dea’s greatest problem within the race
The Republican backs some abortion rights, however he is working in a state with a protracted historical past of defending abortion entry. The state codified its protections this yr — a legislation O’Dea opposed. He additionally voted for a poll measure in 2020 that banned abortions after 22 weeks with no exceptions. That was soundly defeated.
O’Dea sidestepped whether or not these positions put him out of step with a majority of Colorado voters. As a substitute he emphasised when he thinks abortion needs to be authorized: “I imagine, the primary 5 months, the mom has the selection. After that, there needs to be some exceptions rape, incest, lifetime of the mom.” However ODea mentioned he helps Trump’s Supreme Court docket appointees who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. Abortion rights advocates argue that place is inconsistent.
Pressed on his place, O’Dea informed NPR, “I imagine in good conservative judges. I like that. However I do not imagine within the choice that they made.” He mentioned he would characterize his constituents if a nationwide abortion ban got here up within the Senate.
However Bennet argues O’Dea’s place on abortion, alongside along with his stances on different points — will flip off Colorado voters: “He is the nominee of the Republican Celebration right here in Colorado. And he says that Trump bears no duty for what occurred on January 6. That needs to be disqualifying, to say nothing of his place on Roe v. Wade, to say nothing of, you understand, his place on the trickle down economics which have made Colorado and so many locations on this nation unaffordable for working folks.”
Trump as an element within the midterms
As O’Dea intentionally pivots away from the previous president, Bennet mentioned, “It is a actuality that Trump hangs over every little thing.” Bennet says in each townhall he is had since Trump was elected, he brings up the risk to democracy.
Trump is not on the poll in November, however is somebody who got here up with a lot of the voters NPR talked to across the Denver metro space.
Philip Cardenas, who sells freeze dried sweet on the Inexperienced Valley Ranch farmer’s market, plans to again Bennet. He admits he would not know something about O’Dea however says he is involved about extremism from the GOP.
“I feel a majority of People are purple. I imply, if the local weather was completely different, I’d positively – and I assumed a Republican president would do higher – I’d vote. However they’re too far proper, proper now, with the MAGA crowd,” Cardenas mentioned.
Leon Pommer, a Republican buying on the out of doors retailer Cabela’s in Thornton, Colo., mentioned he voted for Trump and credited him for holding power costs decrease throughout his tenure. “He did actual nicely on the fuel costs. You already know, he allowed fracking was going to have the oil pipeline come down from Canada, which might have stored costs decrease.”
Pommer, alongside along with his spouse Karen, mentioned they deliberate to again O’Dea, however Karen mentioned she left the Republican “arty to change into an impartial this yr. “I used to be disillusioned with Trump,” she informed NPR. “I do not suppose he was trustworthy.”
O’Dea referred to as January 6 “a black eye to the nation” and praised former Vice President Mike Pence for his actions that day.
Democrats imagine latest coverage invoice exhibits Congress can work
Complaints about partisanship blocking actual motion are frequent from voters throughout the political spectrum.
Lynette Vigil, a mother of seven, says housing prices are uncontrolled. However she would not have a lot religion Congress will do a lot about it. “It is a circus,” she mentioned. “There isn’t any different phrase for it. It is a circus. I really feel like individuals are dwelling in an alternate actuality.”
Bennet informed NPR he will get the frustration, however factors to a string of latest payments as proof that the Senate is working.
“I imply, it might be exhausting to think about someone extra disenchanted with Washington, D.C., than I’m. However I’ll say that for the final 12 months or so, it is actually been wonderful to see what’s been completed, largely in a bipartisan method — Republicans and Democrats working collectively,” Bennet mentioned. “And I do not suppose that needs to be discounted.”
ODea’s pitch to draw independents and Democrats is that he is somebody who’s prepared to compromise. However Bennet says this election is a alternative — between a celebration that has made some headway to convey down excessive costs or a celebration dominated by a frontrunner nonetheless preventing in regards to the final election.