Three of the Colorado Republicans who unsuccessfully sought this year’s U.S. Senate nomination formally endorsed congressional candidate Erik Aadland on Thursday, calling the West Point graduate the Republicans’ best chance to win the open 7th District seat.
Aadland, who jumped from the U.S. Senate race to the congressional primary in December, announced that former rivals Eli Bremer, Gino Campana and Greg Moore are supporting him ahead of the June 28 primary election. [Pols emphasis]
This story reads like it could be from “The Onion,” but it is nonetheless factually accurate. Three people who couldn’t even make it onto the Primary ballot in the race for U.S. Senate say that Erik Aadland gives Republicans their best chance at winning in CO-07. Because if anyone knows what it takes to win an election, it’s these three guys!
Erik Aadland, thoroughly contemplating.
Naturally, Aadland’s campaign then put all of this in a press release and sent it out to actual reporters.
As you may recall, Aadland started the 2022 election cycle as a candidate for U.S. Senate, a campaign that probably peaked with the endorsement of former Congressman Tom Tancredo last October. Aadland left the Senate race in December to run in CO-07 instead, where he now faces a GOP Primary against Tim “Demon Guy” Reichert and Laurel Imer for the chance to take on Democrat Brittany Pettersen in November.
[SIDE NOTE: Unfortunately for Aadland, Tancredo had already endorsed Imer in CO-07, so he couldn’t keep the Tanc’s endorsement in his new race. Tancredo later endorsed Gino Campana in the U.S. Senate race, because of course he did.]
As Luning writes, Eli Bremer, Gino Campana, and Greg Moore all say they “were impressed with Aadland when they were running against him for the Senate nomination, citing ‘the depths of his intelligence, empathy, and thorough contemplation.'” Reichert and Imer were apparently only capable of moderate contemplation.
The only other question left is this: Should Aadland not win the GOP nomination in C0-07, will the “Three Amigos” enthusiastically endorse Reichert or Imer next?
Little-known businessman Joe O’Dea has been picking up Republican establishment endorsements lately as he tries to defeat State Rep. Ron Hanks in the June 28 Republican Primary for U.S. Senate.
Smart Republicans know that O’Dea gives the GOP its only chance against incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, so they’re doing what they can to smooth the road ahead. Recently, former Republican Gov. Bill Owens announced his endorsement of O’Dea. And when O’Dea makes the rounds on right wing radio shows, he generally gets nothing but softball questions.
The editorial board of the right-wing newspaper The Colorado Springs Gazette joined the movement today with its endorsement of O’Dea over Hanks. The logic may be tortured, but the message is clear: The broader GOP establishment is very nervous about the 2022 election in Colorado.
The Gazette editorial is full of ridiculous hyperbole and head-scratching statements, which has basically been the standard format under Editorial Board Editor Wayne Laugesen. As you may recall, Laugesen makes no effort to hide his personal and political biases; he and his wife, Dede Laugesen (herself a Republican political consultant) were unabashed supporters of former President Donald Trump and were both in Washington D.C. during the Jan. 6 insurrection (more on this in a moment). When the Gazette makes an endorsement ahead of an election, it is essentially Laugesen and a few Republican friends who are making that decision; then they lock Wayne inside his office with a 2-liter of Mountain Dew and let him bang away at his keyboard for a few hours.
Here’s how the Gazette opens its endorsement editorial:
Senate candidate Joe O’Dea poses the Republican Party’s best chance of winning at least one statewide office in November. [Pols emphasis] Republican voters would be smart to give him a landslide victory over his primary opponent, State Rep. Ron Hanks, in the June 28 primary.
Oof. That sound you hear is GOP gubernatorial candidate HiediHeidi Ganahl trying to sneak out of the room and make a run for it.
In the general election, O’Dea would provide voters with a stark contrast to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
O’Dea and Bennet are both quiet, rich white guys who live in Denver. O’Dea even donated to Bennet’s 2010 Senate campaign, which is pretty much the exact opposite of the definition of “stark contrast.” Nevertheless, the Gazette strains to explain a “contrast” by noting that Bennet attended “elite schools” while O’Dea went to Colorado State University. Also, O’Dea has a beard and Bennet is clean-shaven (the Gazette didn’t write this, but they might as well have).
Republican Senate candidates Ron Hanks and Joe O’Dea.
Let’s continue with the editorial:
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.
This is completely true…if by saying O’Dea “worked his way onto the ballot one signature at a time,” you mean to say that O’Dea spent hundreds of thousands of dollars paying a consulting firm to collect signatures for him.
And what does O’Dea bring to the race that others do not? Well…
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.
O’Dea apparently has a decent understanding of basic economic concepts. Send him to the Senate!
Near the end of the editorial, logic just gets discarded altogether:
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. [Pols emphasis] People don’t vote to overturn the past. They vote to ensure a better future.
As we mentioned earlier, Laugesen and his wife WERE AT THE INSURRECTION on January 6, 2021 (as was Hanks). Wayne Laugesen even suggested that the insurrectionist crowd was actually Antifa dressed up in MAGA costumes. Laugesen doesn’t believe that it is wrong to “relitigate” the 2020 election — he just understands that it’s not a great political strategy in 2022.
The Gazette concludes its editorial with a curiously-generic statement about O’Dea:
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.
Support Joe O’Dea because he’s not Michael Bennet and he’s probably more electable than Ron Hanks. That’s the entire endorsement in a nutshell.
It’s clear that the Republican establishment in Colorado is rallying, to whatever degree it still can, behind O’Dea in the Senate race. Perhaps the more important question is this: Does the Republican establishment in Colorado really have the pulse of GOP voters?
The last time Bennet sought re-election to the U.S. Senate was in 2016. In that cycle, Owens endorsed Jon Keyser for the GOP Senate nomination. The Gazette endorsed Robert Blaha.
And Darryl Glenn won the Republican Primary Election.
Here’s a clip we were forwarded of a recent appearance by GOP U.S. Senate candidate Ron Hanks along with Secretary of State candidate Tina “OITNB” Peters and multimedia fringestravaganza Sherronna Bishop, talking about a poll that says 80% of readers of some such blog think Hanks is going to win the June 28th GOP primary:
And yes, despite the fumbling between our name and that other Colorado politics blog, they’re talking about our online poll from last week! Flattering though it may be to us to know our friends on the right still read this blog, now we’ve got to disclaim clearly that this poll is totally unscientific, subject to anonymous abuse and whim and “script kiddies” and any number of other flaws we haven’t even bothered to research let alone stand behind for accuracy. Our unscientific web polls are solely for the purpose of provoking discussion, and every time that successfully happens we’re thrilled on general principles. Like this time.
So if Hanks doesn’t win the June 28th primary like 80% of our readers appear to believe, please don’t start the revolution.
This week in episode 108 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii look back at the 2022 legislative session and highlight some of the more important pieces of legislation to come out of the Gold Dome.
Later, Jason and Ian talk about Joe/John “O’Dancing” O’Dea (it will make sense when you listen); John Eastman; and Tina Peters.
As we normally do in an election year, we’re asking Colorado Pols readers to predict the future in several key upcoming races.
This poll is about the Republican race for U.S. Senate in 2022. Will it be the top line candidate, State Rep. Ron Hanks? Or will it be little-known businessman Joe “O’Dancing” O’Dea? Who moves on from the June 28th Republican Primary for the right to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet?
*Remember, as always with our totally non-scientific polls, we want to know what you legitimately THINK will happen — not what you hope will happen or which candidate you support personally. If you had to bet the deed to your house that your prediction would be correct, how would you vote?
Here in Colorado, smart Republicans know that this is a big problem for them in November, but it’s going to be a tough topic to square with the Republican base. For one thing, many Republican candidates legitimately believe in their opposition to abortion rights. Some GOP candidates oppose abortion rights but won’t talk about it. And then there’s Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea…who dances himself dizzy whenever the subject comes up.
On Saturday, Joe O’Dancing was a guest of right-wing talk show host Jimmy Sengenbergeron KNUS radio. Late in the interview, Sengenberger asked Mr. O’Dancing where he stood on the issue of abortion, particularly in the wake of the news that Roe v. Wade could be overturned. Tell the DJ that he can start the music:
SENGENBERGER: Are you not pro life? Where do you fall on the issue of abortion?
O’DEA: It’s a really complicated issue. It really is. I’m adopted, I’m Catholic, and personally, I am very pro-life. But at the same time I’ve grown up, all my life, thinking government doesn’t need to be involved in our lives. [Pols emphasis] And so, I, right now, in my mind, I would not support overturning Roe v. Wade. I don’t believe that’s the right thing for Coloradans.
At the same time, we’ve got this bill that just came through the House – the Gold Dome – that’s supported by all Democrats that would approve late-term abortions, and I can’t get my head around that. This is a very complicated issue for a lot of Coloradans, and I don’t think it’s as simple as 100% pro choice, 100% pro life. You know, all of us have different experiences in our lives, and so, you know, we need to be able to rely on ourselves. And that’s where I land.
SENGENBERGER: And so, in the context of more compassionate than some on the far right, what does that mean in your…
O’DEA: Well, there’s some people that just draw the line and say, ‘pro-life, every day, all day,’ and there’s others who say, ‘pro-choice all the way up until, you know, the baby is in the birth canal.’ I can’t support either one of those. I’ve landed in the middle, that’s where my head’s at, and that’s where I’ve always been.
SENGENBERGER: I think when we look at Colorado, it’s an interesting state in that regard. I think that there are restrictions on abortion that we must pass in Colorado that are much more practical than anything that…a lot of times, people think, ‘well, we need to go for Personhood amendment.’ I think there are other ways to approach that in a state like Colorado in that regard…
O’DEA: It’s an extremely complicated issue, and everybody has different experiences and they’re coming at it differently. At the core of it, government needs to get out of our lives, so that’s kind of where I’m going to land.
SENGENBERGER: But more restrictions on abortion than we have in Colorado?
O’DEA: Right now, yes. That last law is outrageous.
Whoa, there, Joe — you’re gonna pull a muscle dancing around like that.
Ron Hanks would not say any of the things that Joe O’Dancing just said.
Joe O’Dea literally said all of these things over the span of about 90 seconds:
♦ “Personally, I am very pro-life.”
♦ “You know, all of us have different experiences in our lives, and so, you know, we need to be able to rely on ourselves.”
♦ “At the core of it, government needs to get out of our lives
♦ “Right now, yes,” Colorado needs to have more abortion restrictions in the law.
♦ The Colorado Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), which would allow women access to abortion rights even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, is quote, “outrageous.”
If we were Republican Senate candidate Ron Hanks, we’d be cutting this up for a June Primary ad right now (of course, if we were Ron Hanks, we also wouldn’t have a lot of money for things like “television ads”).
This isn’t the first time that Joe O’Dancing has taken multiple different positions on the issue of abortion in the same interview. It is certainly a bit confounding that he keeps making the same mistake over and over again.
In his quest to stay in an untenable “center” on abortion rights, Joe O’Dea ends up just being nowhere at all. And he already let the horse out of the barn anyway. Once you say, “personally, I am very pro-life,” you’ve planted your flag on abortion rights — no matter how many times you add that “this is a complicated issue.”
Where does Joe O’Dea stand on the issue of abortion rights?
This week in episode 107 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii welcome back Christy Powell once more for the latest news on fundraising numbers for statewide races and one unforgettable diatribe about abortion rights (seriously, it could be its own episode — jump to the 22:45 mark).
But first, Jason and Ian consider the political implications in Colorado of the demise of Roe v. Wade and make sure to update you on where Republican candidates for federal office stand on the issue. We also dive into the big news in the race for Governor and listen to Republican candidate Greg Lopez talk himself into oblivion in an interview with 9News.
Happy Cinco de Mayo. Please celebrate responsibly and go easy on Federal Blvd. Let’s GetMore Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.
► Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Denver) is among many Democrats calling on the U.S. Senate to act quickly to protect abortion rights in the wake of a “leaked opinion” suggesting that the United States Supreme Court is about to overturn Roe v. Wade. From Denver7:
DeGette, the co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, implored the Senate to act and pass House-passed legislation protecting people’s right to abortion care, despite it failing to do so earlier this year, after the leak of the draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
The House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act last September in a 218-211 vote, with all Republicans voting against the measure and all Democrats voting in favor except for Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas.
But when the motion to proceed to a vote in the Senate came up on Feb. 28, the measure failed to get the 60 votes necessary to proceed in a 46-48 vote, with all voting Republicans voting against the measure along with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V.
As The Washington Post reports, the White House is also working hard to find solutions for protecting abortion rights…though there might not be much they can do:
Officials are discussing whether funding, whether through Medicaid or another mechanism, could be made available to women to travel to other states for an abortion, according to outside advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions, but many doubt whether that is feasible.
Every @COHouseGOP lawmaker voted for an amendment to let counties copy election system hard drives and share them with whomever they want. Tina Peters has some serious influence over these folks. #copolitics#coleg
If you’ve been following the reaction to the news that Roe v. Wade is likely about to be overturned, you might have noticed a consistent narrative from Republicans that has nothing to do with abortion at all. Here’s a good example from Arkansas Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge:
Arkansas GOP Attorney General (and candidate for lieutenant governor) Leslie Rutledge says the leaker(s) of the draft decision overturning Roe is “no different than those who wished to tear down our Capitol on January 6.” pic.twitter.com/wUByEuvSWc
Let’s ignore the lunacy of this argument — that leaking a draft decision from the Supreme Court is comparable to the Jan. 6 insurrection — because the more important part is what Rutledge is NOT saying. She and other Republicans are largely going out of their way to avoid even talking about abortion, which is a bit odd considering that overturning Roe v. Wade would be a YUGE victory for the GOP base.
Republican leaders don’t want to talk about abortion, at all, because they know that the majority of Americans do not agree with overturning Roe v. Wade. Just last week, a poll from The Washington Post and ABC News found that voters support maintaining abortion rights by a 2-to-1 margin.
As Axios first reported on Tuesday, a memo from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) makes it explicitly clear that Republicans should focus on the “leak” and ignore the impact of a pending SCOTUS decision on abortion rights. Here’s the first “sample statement” suggested by the NRSC (click here to read the NRSC memo in its entirety):
“This is a draft opinion, so we will wait to see what the final decision of the Supreme Court is in the coming months. The leak of this document is troubling and is indicative of the Radical Left’s mission to undermine the institution of the Supreme Court and ultimately pack the Court with liberal judges who will rubber stamp the Democrats’ radical agenda. It’s wrong and the leaker should be found, fired and potentially prosecuted.”
Nowhere in that sample statement does it indicate that Republicans should support a potential reversal of Roe v. Wade or express agreement on rolling back abortion rights. In fact, if you just read that statement without any context or background information, it wouldn’t be clear what issue was even being discussed.
It speaks volumes that Republicans are taking such pains to avoid talking about something that they have told their base for decades that they are working to support.
If you’re reading these words we will assume that you are already aware that a leaked document indicates that the U.S. Supreme Court is getting ready to overturn Roe v. Wade in what would be a stunning rollback of abortion rights. This news will obviously have an enormous impact on the 2022 election; how each individual candidate approaches the subject will be perhaps more critical than it has ever been for American voters.
With that in mind, we thought it would be instructive to take a look at the positions on abortion taken by the various candidates for major political offices in Colorado. Since we can’t list the positions of every candidate — well, we could, but that would take longer than waiting for HiediHeidi Ganahl to answer a question — we’re going to focus on the candidates in competitive races for federal office in Colorado (U.S. Senate and Congress).
But before we do that, here’s a fantastic example from Ganahl herself of how NOT to respond to these questions:
NEW: Campaign spokeswoman for GOP gubernatorial candidate @heidiganahl declines to say if Ganahl would sign an abortion ban in Colorado but said the recent law establishing abortion rights in Colorado state law “must be undone.” #copolitics
Colorado state lawmakers recently passed legislation called the “Reproductive Health Equity Act” (RHEA), also known as HB22-1279, that essentially protects the rights of Colorado women to choose an abortion without government interference — like if, say, the Supreme Court of the United States decided to overturn Roe v. Wade. Ganahl vehemently opposes this law, but she won’t say if she would sign legislation banning an abortion in Colorado (which pretty much means she would). In short, Ganahl made it clear (again) that she opposes abortion rights but is too politically-terrified to talk about it in public.
Okay, back to the candidates for Congress…
As far as we know, there is no Democrat running in Colorado in 2022 who does NOT support abortion rights, so we’ll skip ahead to note where the relevant Republican candidates are standing on the issue.
Voters don’t have much of an option on the issue of abortion when it comes to Republican candidates Ron Hanks and Joe O’Dea. The only real difference is that Hanks doesn’t even try to dance around on the subject:
You’re not going to get much further to the right than Hanks when it comes to abortion. If there were an “Outlaw Abortion” button, Hanks would have already smashed it to pieces with his enthusiasm. Hanks would support outlawing abortion anywhere, at any time.
Joe O’Dea (R-ando)
O’Dea is less transparent about his opinion on abortion. He says that abortion is an issue that should be left up to the states to decide, which is his way of trying not to answer questions about Roe v. Wade. At the same time, O’Dea opposes the Reproductive Health Equity Act recently passed in Colorado…which protects the right to an abortion AT THE STATE LEVEL.
O’Dea isn’t likely going to clear this up anytime soon, because he doesn’t want to be talking about abortion at all should he win the June Primary Election for the right to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
We aren’t suggesting that Joe O’Dea opposes abortion rights in all cases. But O’Dea isn’t saying anything to the contrary.
If you’re a Republican Primary voter, O’Dea is potentially with you on this issue. In the meantime, he’s following the advice of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has instructed GOP candidates to yell SQUIRREL! whenever they get a question on abortion or Roe v. Wade.
There are three Republicans running for Congress in CO-07. It’s safe to say that none of them support abortion rights.
According to FEC contribution filings, Denver businessman and Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Joe O’Dea donated to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) during his 2010 campaign. O’Dea is trying to unseat Bennet this November and has been critical of the incumbent Democrat.
O’Dea also donated to U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) in 2009, giving $500 to both Perlmutter’s campaign and Bennet’s campaign. Since then, O’Dea has supported Republicans at the federal level with donations to the Republican National Committee in 2018 and 2021 and former U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) in 2019 and 2020.
According to reports from Colorado’s Secretary of State TRACER database, O’Dea donated to multiple Colorado politicians who identify as part of the Democratic Party at the state level. This includes donations to U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) — who unseated Gardner in 2020 — during Hickenlooper’s campaign for Governor of Colorado.
We laughed over the weekend after political neophyte Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea was obliged to pull down a campaign ad that featured footage of Russian fighter jets overlain by the slogan “SUPPORT MILITARY”–which during the present state of conflict between Russia and most of the world over the invasion of Ukraine was a gaffe of significantly greater heft than the usual substitution of out-of-state mountains for the Colorado Rockies.
But as the Colorado Times Recorder’sHeidi Beedlereported over the weekend and then O’Dea personally confirmed in a fumbling Twitter clapback, O’Dea appears to be just as capable of screwing up on real issues. Asked about abortion in the context of the likely overturning by the new 6-3 right-wing U.S. Supreme Court of Roe v. Wade, O’Dea gave an answer that most likely pleases no one–but will please Colorado’s solid pro-choice majority much less:
“Well, actually, if [Roe v. Wade] gets overturned, it’s going to push it to the states,” said O’Dea in response to a question about what kind of legislation he would support around abortion. “And this bill [Reproductive Health Equity Act] that just came through at our gold dome, that Polis signed a couple of weeks ago, to me, it’s reckless, it approves third-term abortions, and I’m not in favor of that. So it’s going to be a local-level issue.”
Summing up the problem is longtime local reproductive rights activist Karen Middleton:
“Joe O’Dea’s opposition to the Reproductive Health Equity Act means he does not agree with the vast majority of Coloradans on abortion access and reproductive rights, at a time when the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and take those rights away. O’Dea’s opposition to RHEA and abortion rights are disqualifying for anyone running for elected office in Colorado.”
Perhaps sensing the danger of wading into this treacherous minefield–especially ahead of the June 28th primary, when the smallest concession on any number of litmus test issues including this one could spell doom against an opponent with a natural advantage winning base GOP hearts and minds–O’Dea responded sharply but vaguely to the Colorado Times Recorder’s story via the Twitters:
Here’s the truth fake reporters: abortion was legal long before your grandstanding bill this year and even before Roe. You go ahead and run Mark Udall’s campaign. I’m focusing on inflation, crime, & Biden’s soft foreign policy. That’s why I’m running, not social issues. 3/4
While it’s true that abortion will remain legal in Colorado after the repeal of Roe v. Wade, that’s not the case for dozens of other states–and in Colorado, it’s the very bill O’Dea criticized that has now codified abortion rights into statute. And if O’Dea is trying to signal beneath this bravado that he’s okay with abortion being legal, that’s something every Republican primary voter needs to know. The only thing that’s truly clear is that O’Dea doesn’t want to talk about abortion at all, calling unwelcome questions on the issue “Mark Udall’s campaign” in a slight to the U.S. Senate who lost to Cory Gardner in 2014 warning that Gardner was a clear and present danger to abortion rights.
The problem for Joe O’Dea is that Mark Udall was right. And every voter in Colorado knows it now.
In 2022, with Roe about to fall after Gardner made good on the worst fears of his detractors in 2014, Mark Udall’s warning to Colorado is as salient as ever. Joe O’Dea has already expressed his support for right-wing judges ready to carry out the edicts of the new overwhelmingly conservative Supreme Court that Cory Gardner helped install. Especially in the likely event Roe is overturned or dramatically weakened this summer, this issue that O’Dea would like to sidestep is going to collide with his campaign head-on whether he likes it or not.
Whether it becomes obvious before June 28th or afterward, Joe O’Dea is just not up to the job.
One of the classic errors made by (almost always Republican) candidates trying just a little too hard to prove their local mettle running in Colorado is the use of images of mountains in campaign ads and literature that, albeit picturesque, are not actually located in the state of Colorado. From the state party’s use of beautiful Utah canyonlands to backdrop their pledge to “restore Republican values to Colorado” to the infamous case of 2008 U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer depicted with his family popping out from around Alaska’s Denali, it’s been an amusing if somewhat ominous indicator of something, you know, not quite clicking.
Well folks, as Roll Callreported yesterday, there’s another way to screw the proverbial pooch as badly as transplanting out-of-state mountains to Colorado, perhaps much worse in our present time of war:
Colorado Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea promises to “support the police and military,” in a television ad that featured footage of a half-dozen planes flying in formation against a backdrop of fluffy, white clouds.
Only, those weren’t American planes. Three experts on military aviation, after viewing the ad, concluded independently that the aircraft used in the ad by a Republican vying to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet are a mix of Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets — possibly flying in a Russian military parade. [Pols emphasis]
So, we don’t claim to be experts in the field of plane-spotting, but we’re familiar enough from our layman’s armchair with the world’s air forces to know those are not American-made aircraft. And if they’re not American-made, the possibilities narrow pretty rapidly to something rather dreadful in the context of today’s headlines:
Richard Aboulafia, managing director of Aerodynamic Advisory, an aerospace consulting firm, said the various models of aircraft shown in the footage are “almost certainly” members of the Sukhoi Su-30 family of fighter jets.
“Since these are the mainstay of the Russian air force’s Ukraine war operations, this is a particularly regrettable choice of footage,” Aboulafia said in an email. [Pols emphasis]
About as regrettable as humanly possible, we’d say! If we take the visual at face value, Joe O’Dea is now America’s foremost Russia booster this side of Tucker Carlson himself. And unfortunately, the keywords appended to this clip of video at Shutterstock leave the O’Dea campaign with little excuse:
Joe O’Dea is himself a political neophyte with no experience running any kind of political campaign, let alone a U.S. Senate race against a seasoned two-term incumbent. But O’Dea’s political consultant team, which includes former GOP gubernatorial candidate Josh Penry and his allegedly top-shelf Ascent Media/76 Group, has no excuse for this kind of carelessness. In World War II, if a candidate for office had substituted a photo of Japanese Zeros for American planes in their handbills they’d have been run out of town.
Like realistic Republican aspirations in this race, the standards have fallen.
Later, we listen in as Republican gubernatorial candidates Greg Lopez and HiediHeidi Ganahl explain how THEY would have gotten control of the May 2020 riots in Denver [Spoiler Alert: They would have basically used a stern voice with protestors]. We also do our best to decipher a celebratory video from CO-08 Republican candidate Lori Saine.
► As The New York Times details for the first time, Republican Congressional leaders were (at one point) adamant about getting tough with former President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 insurrection. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthywas also apparently already sick of Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert.
CNN’s Chris Cillizza, meanwhile, takes note of a particularly damning quote from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell about Trump:
Mitch McConnell knew that what happened on January 6, 2021, was deeply wrong. And that blame for the riot that day lay at the feet of then-President Donald Trump.
We now have definitive proof of that fact, thanks to a new excerpt published Thursday from the forthcoming book “This Will Not Pass” by New York Times reporters Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin.
“The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us,” McConnell told two associates just days after the insurrection, referring to the effort to impeach Trump in the Democratic-led House, according to the Times’ reporters. [Pols emphasis]
► Charles Ashby of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has more on a lawsuit filed by a handful of Republicans hoping to keep State Sen. Don Coram from appearing on the June Primary ballot against Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert.
We noted earlier today that you might want to be particularly nice to transportation workers in the near future after a federal mask mandate was overturned by a Florida judge. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the Middle District of Florida ruled on Monday that a federal mask mandate “exceeds the statutory authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
This prompted a social media response from Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea targeting incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet:
But as Newsweek explains, Bennet had a very good reason for not supporting the nomination of Mizelle, who was nominated by then-President Donald Trump in August 2020:
Trump’s nomination of Mizelle drew criticism from some in the legal community. At the time, the American Bar Association (ABA) wrote in a letter to Senators Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein they determined she was “not qualified” for the position. [Pols emphasis]
In the letter, the ABA wrote Mizelle began to practice law eight years earlier — a “departure” from the 12-year minimum the ABA’s committee uses as a benchmark for determining qualifications of nominees — and that she had not tried a case as lead or co-counsel.
O’Dea is trying to earn some political points for attacking Bennet here, but it’s a bad look for the Denver developer. O’Dea is basically saying that he’s totally fine with confirming unqualified judges to high court appointments…which is a weird position to take.
In a Republican Senate Primary against a far-right opponent like State Rep. Ron Hanks, perhaps O’Dea seems some strategic value in confirming that he would be a rubber stamp for conservative nominees to any judgeship. The problem, of course, is that a General Election audience will be significantly less enthusiastic about O’Dea’s apparent disinterest in “qualifications.”
Quarterly fundraising reports for federal campaigns were due by midnight on Friday. Since many of you had signed off for the weekend long before that time, we’ll break down everything you need to know below…
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet maintains his sizable fundraising lead over the rest of the field of Senate hopefuls.
The numbers for Ron Hanks are interesting for a non-obvious reason. Yes, Hanks isn’t raising diddly squat for his campaign, but it also appears as though he’s not really tryingto fundraise. Only 11 individual contributors appear on Hanks’s fundraising report; Bennet, by comparison, has hundreds of individual contributors. We suppose it’s possible that Hanks is just really bad at fundraising, but the limited number of contributors suggests that Hanks is intentionally choosing to do other things with his time. Hanks may be hoping for more unsolicited donations now that he is the top line candidate on the June Primary ballot, which is sorta what happened for 2016 Republican Senate nominee Darryl Glenn. Hanks also knows that if he wins the GOP Primary, he’ll get national fundraising help to some degree.
Joe O’Dea does appear to be raising money in the traditional manner — just not a lot of it. His numbers would be pretty good if he were running for a seat in the House of Representatives, but this is a weak quarter for a Senate candidate. Again, fundraising is likely to be a lot easier for O’Dea now that the GOP field is down to just he and Hanks, but this isn’t a great sign for a candidate who has more of a name ID problem than his Republican opponent.
Three other former Republican Senate candidates committed the cardinal sin in politics of losing with money in the bank. Gino Campana ($625k), Eli Bremer ($150k), and Deborah Flora ($209k) all failed to qualify for the June Primary ballot via the assembly process, which puts an end to their 2022 campaigns but does not zero out their candidate bank accounts.
Incumbent Republican Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert continues to raise a lot money…but she’s also spending a good deal of her coin as well. Her opponent in the June Primary, Don Coram, isn’t doing well on the fundraising front and will likely need to rely on spending from third-party groups to boost his name ID and/or weaken Boebert.
As for the Democrats, Sol Sandovalcontinues to burn through her money at an alarming rate. Sandoval’s fundraising hasn’t been bad — she has pulled in more than $800k for her campaign thus far — but she has also spent more than $700k. The “poop guy,” Alex Walker, raised nearly $130k in just about one month, which would put him on a decent trajectory if he were able to maintain this pace. Adam Frisch, meanwhile, is sitting on $1.66 million in the bank — most of it coming from people named Adam Frisch.
Challenger Dave Williams had a decent fundraising quarter, though he has a long way to go in order to catch up to what incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn has in the bank. Lamborn’s $82,955 Q1 is pretty weak, but it’s not much less than what he normally raises in a given quarter. Money likely won’t play that big of a role in the June Primary, which will mostly be a battle over a smaller group of consistent Republican voters.
Democrat Brittany Pettersen turned in a solid first fundraising quarter, trailing only Boebert for the lead among candidates for the U.S. House in Colorado. Republican Tim Reichert technically reported more money in contributions, but $500k came in the form of a personal check. [Side note: Reichert laughably claimed in a press release that “70%” of his donations came from Coloradans…a figure that includes 100% of all Tim Reicherts in the state].
The other two Republicans in the race are struggling on the money front. Erik Aadland had a not-completely-terrible contribution number, but he spent most of it and now has very little left in the bank. Laurel Imer, meanwhile, would likely be trailing her opponents in a race for the STATE House of Representatives.
This entire list might qualify as the biggest surprise of the first quarter. Congressional district eight is a brand new congressional district with no incumbent in the way, yet no candidate is really crushing it on the fundraising front. Democrat Yadira Caraveo has the most in the bank, and she should be able to build on that lead now that she doesn’t have an opponent in the June Primary.
Republican Lori Saine, who earned top line on the June Primary ballot, seems to be taking a similar approach to that of Ron Hanks in the U.S. Senate race; Saine only has about 30 total contributions, which indicates that she isn’t putting any real time or effort into fundraising. Saine has good enough name ID in a four-way Primary that being a top fundraiser isn’t as important as it might be for other candidates.
Fellow Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer dropped the biggest turd of the bunch, though perhaps her low numbers indicate that she expects outside groups (such as Americans for Prosperity) to do the heavy lifting on her behalf. Meanwhile, Jan Kulmann’s numbers are fairly weak for someone who touts strong connections to the oil and gas industry. Tyler Allcorn produced a better quarter than we would have expected, though it helps to be able to write yourself a big check; still, Allcorn’s numbers indicate that he may have enough resources to play a spoiler role in June.
Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott is the 2022 Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which means it is his job to ensure that Republicans take majority control of the U.S. Senate in 2022. Scott was in Colorado this week to meet with Republicans and pretend to be excited about GOP Senate candidates Ron Hanks and Joe O’Dea.
Scott joined Colorado Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown (KBB) for a five-minute interview with Matt Mauro of Fox 31 News. We didn’t learn a whole lot from this interview, other than that neither Scott nor KBB really want to talk about Hanks or O’Dea. Instead, they promised to remain neutral:
SCOTT: “We’ve got two very good candidates, but look, the voters of Colorado are going to choose the person that they want to represent them. I know one of those individuals is going to be the next U.S. Senator. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure we win this seat. I’ll be back here, working hard to make sure we win.”
Mauro tried to press both Scott and KBB on the importance of finding a Republican candidate who is “electable,” but neither would take the bait:
KBB: “Well, you know Matt, I think electability is exactly the question. And that’s what Republicans across Colorado will get to decide in the Primary in June. We need to chose a Republican who is going to send Michael Bennet packing…
…Republican voters will choose that [person] in June, and we’ll go on to defeat Michael Bennet.”
Mauro then asked Scott about infighting within the GOP, particularly a back-and-forth between Scott and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellregarding Scott’s ridiculous policy proposals, which include a plan TO RAISE TAXES ON ALL AMERICANS.
Scott responded by…talking about Glenn Youngkin?
Let’s look at the Glenn Youngkin race. Biden won that state a year ahead of time by 10 points. And then we won the governor’s race. So that’s going to go on all across the country. [We] almost won the governor’s race in New Jersey. And look at these school board races – Republicans are winning all across the country.
Glenn Youngkin was elected Governor of Virginia in November 2021, which apparently means that all Republican candidates will now win in every state in 2022. Also, please don’t ask Scott about how he wants to raise everyone’s taxes.
The rest of the conversation is mostly standard rhetoric about the horribleness of President Biden and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver), but we did want to share Scott’s interesting pronouncement of “Coloradans”:
We’re not sure how we would explain the point of this interview, since neither Scott nor KBB so much as muttered the names “Ron Hanks” or “Joe O’Dea.”
In fairness, it’s hard to talk about Hanks without discussing the “Big Lie,” and it’s difficult to speak about O’Dea because nobody knows who he is.
After last weekend’s debacle that was the State Republican Party Assembly, only two GOP candidates remain in the race for U.S. Senate: State Rep. Ron Hanks and businessman Joe O’Dea. Differentiating between the two finalists may be a harder task for Republicans than we might have thought.
Hanks is the center of gravity in this race, something he confirmed with his shutout victory at the state assembly on Saturday. O’Dea qualified for the June Primary ballot via the petition process, and staying away from the state assembly could have provided him an opportunity to chart more of a moderate path forward.
Except, that’s not at all what Joe O’Dea is doing.
At a candidate meet-and-greet in Westminster Monday, Denver businessman and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea refused to speak with the Colorado Times Recorder, saying that he is not speaking to Democrats.
“I’m not talking to Democrats,” O’Dea said [Pols emphasis] when approached for an interview. The Colorado Times Recorder is a nonpartisan news outlet whose coverage reflects a progressive perspective, as explained on our website.
We get that O’Dea is still pretty new to this whole “being a candidate for public office” thing, but it’s never a good idea to vocalize the idea that you don’t plan on even having a conversation with a Democrat in Colorado. Whoever wins the Republican Primary in June will face off against incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who is definitely focused on talking to all Colorado voters, regardless of political affiliation.
Perhaps O’Dea believes that his checkbook does enough talking to Democrats that he doesn’t have to get involved:
But O’Dea, who owns a construction company and an event center in Denver, has let his money talk to Democrats.
He’s supported candidates from the Democratic Party since 2010, according to reports from Colorado’s Secretary of State TRACER database.
Since 2009, O’Dea has made monetary campaign donations to 13 candidates for public office in Colorado. Five of those 13 were Democrats, including then-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) in his 2014 reelection campaign.
We have no doubt that Hanks will make plenty sure that Colorado Republicans are aware of O’Dea’s contributions to Democratic candidates over the years. O’Dea may be trying to make up for this history by positioning himself firmly to the right on every issue possible.
O’Dea was a guest on The Leland Conway Show on KHOW radio on Monday, and he definitely let his (right-wing) freak flag fly. Conway asked O’Dea about eliminating federal departments; O’Dea replied that the first thing he would do is get rid of the Department of Education:
O’DEA: I think I’d get rid of [the Department of] Education. [Pols emphasis] I think we proved that here in Colorado through COVID, right? We finally got to look and see what our kids our learning. Parents around this state took it back. They took it seriously. We turned over school boards.
Conway then went on a rant about other federal agencies that could be combined or eliminated, and O’Dea was right there with him!
CONWAY: I think we could also probably roll like, the Department of Interior, the EPA, and the BLM all together in to one department, you know, the ‘office of the environment’ or whatever you’d want to call it. That could all work together as one. You could probably pare that back to one-third the size. When you talk about pruning the tree of government, there’s a lot of it. I don’t think people quite realized what our Founders intended in terms of how little the government was really ever supposed to do in our lives.
O’DEA:Oh, you’re spot on. You asked me what the first thing I would do…the second week I’d start going through the next bureaucracies. [Pols emphasis] And I think [by] the third week, you start getting good at it and we start hacking this thing back to a manageable size. We don’t need to be paying for all this.
Joe O’Dea wants to go to Washington D.C. and just start chopping stuff down.
There’s really only one of two things that could be happening here: 1) O’Dea thinks he needs to stay to the far right in order to get through the June Primary, particularly given his Democratic donor history; or 2) This is what Joe O’Dea really, actually believes.
Maybe there was never going to be an internal campaign conversation about Joe O’Dea moving toward the middle. As it turns out, O’Dea isn’t acting like a right-wing Republican at all.
This week in episode 105 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii guest host Christy Powell spend an entire episode breaking down the fantastic disaster that was last weekend’s Republican Party state assembly. Which other Republicans are dancing alongside Secretary of State nominee Tina Peters?
Colorado Republicans spent the weekend in Colorado Springs finalizing candidate positions for various important races in 2022. In case you haven’t heard, the GOP State Assembly did not go well. Here’s what happened…
(1) Colorado Media Outlets All Saw the Same Thing
Colorado political reporters came to the same obvious conclusion following Saturday’s circus: The “Big Lie” reigns supreme in the Colorado Republican Party. Here’s a sampling:
♦ The Denver Post: “Colorado GOP embraces election conspiracy theories in nominations for Secretary of State, Senate”
Presumptive GOP gubernatorial frontrunner HiediHeidi Ganahl has been flailing since her 2021 campaign kickoff about her persistent refusal to acknowledge that the 2020 election was legitimate. You can see from Saturday’s results why Ganahl has been so terrified to waffle on the “Big Lie” where the GOP base is concerned.
Republicans spent HOURS on Saturday arguing over multiple efforts from groups trying to force the Party to abandon electronic voting in favor of paper ballots. Did Republicans really think that NOBODY would bring this up at their State Assembly?
(3) Danielle Neuschwanger Claims Fraud After Losing
Again, in the “of course this happened” category.
The odds that a Republican candidate was going to lose on Saturday and then immediately claim election fraud as the reason were approximately 100%.
Danielle Neuschwanger finished in third place in the race for Governor, behind Greg Lopez and Ganahl, but short of the 30% threshold that would get her name on the June Primary ballot. Neuschwanger then publicly alleged that there were some sort of voting irregularities and that she would refuse to concede (not that anybody needs Neuschwanger to concede in order to move on to June). We know this happened because Neuschwanger posted a video of herself making this very argument:
Near the end of the video, an unidentified man can be heard yelling, “We didn’t lose! We got screwed!”
On KNUS radio on Monday morning, KBB elaborated on this event, adding that Neuschwanger’s husband threatened to beat up her father! Totally normal stuff.
(4) Raise Your Hand if You Want to be on the Ballot!
Republicans allowed nominations from the floor on Saturday. This did not go well.
The first problem with this approach came when Oltmann was nominated for Governor (and seconded by State Rep. Pat Neville). Oltmann had no intention of accepting this nomination, but he DID use his time on stage to endorse two other Republicans: Ron Hanks for Senate and Tina Peters for Secretary of State. Both KBB and Republican Party Vice-Chair Priscilla Rahn bemoaned this on Monday on KNUS radio as a waste of everyone’s time. You’d think KBB might have had some advance knowledge of this given the fact that she basically worked for Oltmann 18 months ago.
Following the vote for Governor, two different people were then nominated from the floor for Attorney General. We wrote earlier about Stanley Thorne, but there was a second woman nominated for AG who admitted soon thereafter THAT SHE WASN’T EVEN AN ATTORNEY. Thorne, by the way, is a licensed attorney, but not in Colorado (he’s also apparently not a registered Republican).
In the end, District Attorney John Kellner escaped Colorado Springs without a Primary opponent, but he can’t be feeling too pleased with himself. As we wrote on Sunday:
Apparently 42% of Colorado Republicans said they would prefer “any random asshole” for Attorney General rather than John Kellner…EVEN if that person is not even a registered Republican in Colorado.
(5) More Clowns = Better Circus
Saturday was unquestionably a dumpster fire for the Colorado Republican Party, but that didn’t stop KBB from attempting her own lame spin on the results:
It is true that State Treasurer candidate Lang Sias does not have a Republican opponent. As we noted earlier, AG candidate John Kellner would have had a Primary had Stanley Thorne actually been a registered Republican. In order to find a third candidate for this “no Primary” narrative, KBB had to include some guy running for state school board.
Meanwhile, Republicans do have a primary fight for Governor, U.S. Senate, and Secretary of State. All three Republican incumbents in Congress will have a Primary in June, and both open seats (CO-07 and CO-08) have multiple-candidate Primary battles. Republicans also have NO candidates in CO-01, CO-02, or CO-06.
But, sure, YAY for Sias, Kellner, and school board guy.
In case you were wondering, Democrats have no primary battles for any statewide race. Democrats also have no Primary fight in any congressional race. The Republican spin on this is just silly.
(6) The Tina Peters Assembly
Greg Lopez won top line at the assembly BECAUSE he promised to pardon Peters of any crimes committed during her tenure as Mesa County Clerk and Recorder. Stanley Thorne got 42% of the vote in the race for AG because he and others claimed that John Kellner failed to support Peters with sufficient vigor.
The biggest surprise from Saturday’s assembly might be that no Republican candidate publicly proposed to marry Peters.
This is the part where we remind you that Tina Peters spent a night in jail literally one month ago. She might yet be jailed on a contempt of court charge, and we don’t even know about the federal crimes she could get dinged for in the coming months.
If there is a ray of hope for the GOP, it is that Mike O’Donnell made the June Primary ballot, giving Republicans a three-way Primary for SOS. O’Donnell is a long shot to win, but he could be helpful to the GOP if he is able to siphon votes away from Tina Peters to the benefit of Pam Anderson (who skipped the assembly after getting on the ballot via the petition route).
Despite her endless pandering to the Republican base, presumed GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Heidi Ganahl came in second to Greg Lopez, who collected basically the same vote percentage that he received in his 2018 bid for Governor. We don’t need to tell you that it’s bad news that Ganahl is basically an afterthought following the biggest weekend of the year for Colorado Republicans.
(8) All The Momentum for Ron Hanks
Just look at this photo, via Colorado Public Radio:
Republican operatives have insisted for months that Ron Hanks is not a real candidate for U.S. Senate and would have no chance in a GOP Primary. We’ve long believed that reality was exactly the opposite of this position.
On Saturday Hanks SHUT OUT every other Republican Senate candidate, emerging from the State Assembly as the only person to make the Primary ballot via this process (if you’re wondering how this happened, see point #2 above). Hanks will face Joe O’Dea in June after O’Dea was the only Republican Senate candidate with the sense to collect petition signatures instead of relying on the GOP’s lunatic base.
Hanks has raised very little money for his U.S. Senate campaign and is about as far away from the average Colorado voter on policy issues as a candidate could get. But he might well win the Republican Primary in June, following in the footsteps of 2016 Senate hopeful Darryl Glenn.
There is still a lot to be told on the other side of the GOP ledger. Gino Campana is a multi-millionaire former Ft. Collins City Council Member who regularly touted his connections to Donald Trump and even hired Kellyanne Conway as a consultant. He didn’t make the ballot.
Deborah Flora is a former radio host and onetime “Miss Colorado” who entered Saturday touting the endorsement of Texas Senator Ted Cruz. She also left Broadmoor World Arena on Saturday in need of a new hobby.
Campana, Bremer, and Flora spent a lot of time and paid a lot of consultants a lot of money for a whole lot of nothing.
(9) Ken Buck, Canary in the Coal Mine
We knew things were going to be (extra) weird on Saturday after incumbent Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) almost failed to get his name on the June Primary ballot during Friday’s CO-04 assembly. Buck finished in second place behind somebody named Bob Lewis. Buck will likely still win the GOP Primary, but getting just 38% of the vote from your own base is pretty sad for an incumbent Congressman.
Later, we talk with Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) about campaigning in a newly-redrawn congressional district; chairing the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands; passage of legislation to create the Amache National Historic Site; and his efforts to assist Ukrainian refugees escaping the war with Russia.
One week from tomorrow the loudest election conspiracy theorist in America “MyPillow Guy” Mike Lindell will be in Colorado to headline a rally for his dear friend and recipient of much Big Pillow largesse, indicted but still-in-it-to-win-it Secretary of State candidate Tina Peters. Also headlining is the Colorado GOP U.S. Senate primary’s leading “election truther”Ron Hanks–potentially delivering a big boost for both candidates with Republican party faithful ahead of the crucial GOP state assembly the following weekend. While some local Republicans are calling, in a few cases pleading for the party to move on from Donald Trump and focus on gains in the upcoming midterms, a majority of Republicans according to polls are still not ready to do that. This rally is for them, and if you think it’s crazy then this rally is simply not for you.
Also, Denver is the capital city of Colorado but the building is the State Capitol.