Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) held off a spirited challenge from Republican construction magnate Joe O’Dea, bolstered by a blue wall in Colorado too high for the red wave to climb.
In defeating O’Dea, among the most celebrated Republican Senate candidates of the midterm elections, Bennet, 57, won his third full term since early 2009, when he was appointed to replace Ken Salazar after the Democrat was tapped for then-President Barack Obama’s Cabinet. This is the second time the mild-mannered Bennet has survived a Republican wave in midterm elections, 2010 being the first.
However, in this contest, the senator had the benefit of running in a state that has since completed its transformation from Republican-leaning swing state to deep-blue bastion.
Republicans were high on O’Dea from Day 1 as a quality contender who would help them extend the map of competitive Senate contests.
The first-time candidate ran a competent campaign that focused on the voters’ priorities, such as inflation, crime, and border security. To address vulnerabilities all Republicans face in Colorado, O’Dea positioned himself as a centrist on abortion and other politically charged issues, declaring his support for Roe v. Wade and opposition to the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
O’Dea also attempted to create some distance between himself and former President Donald Trump, a sensible move in a state that has not gone Republican in a presidential race since 2004 and elected a Republican to the Senate only once — in 2014 — since 2002. Naturally, that did not go over well with Trump, who urged Republicans to oppose his candidacy just weeks before Election Day.
O’Dea made a splash a few days later when he announced an endorsement from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a bid to counter the backlash from Trump. The move turned the Colorado Senate race into ground zero in the proxy wars for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, although all O’Dea was hoping to do was shore up support from the GOP base.
DeSantis recorded a robocall for O’Dea, touting his conservative bona fides and leadership qualities. One way or the other, it wasn’t enough to get O’Dea to Washington.