New Episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii update the progress of every key race in Colorado now that we’ve passed the 50 day mark until Election Day.

We also talk about the latest embarrassing antics of Republican Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and Ken Buck — including wontons! — and give an attaboy to local media for taking time to do some important election narrative fact-checking.

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Joe O’Dea Hammered on Abortion, Gun Control

Back in August, Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea made a catastrophic strategic error on the issue of abortion rights that was sure to be used by opponents in a slew of advertisements.

And here they come.

As we wrote in August, O’Dea’s admission that he voted for Proposition 115 in 2020 — an abortion ban that was rejected by 59% of Colorado voters — was likely the nail in his electoral coffin on an issue that has surged to the top of mind for many voters in 2022. A new television ad from a PAC called “53 Peaks” is using O’Dea’s vote on Prop. 115 to hammer him on abortion rights:

But it’s not just abortion rights where O’Dea is getting crushed. As The Colorado Sun reports:

Giffords PAC, the national organization pushing for tougher gun regulations, is running ads attacking O’Dea on gun policy…

…The 30-second Giffords PAC ad, which hits the airwaves Friday, features scenes from the mass shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, an Aurora movie theater and a Boulder King Soopers and blasts O’Dea for opposing “common-sense” firearm reforms like “closing loopholes and keeping guns away from criminals.”

O’Dea opposed the bipartisan gun regulation bill passed by Congress earlier this year and signed into law by President Joe Biden. “We’ve got plenty of laws on the books already,” he said during a Colorado Sun primary debate in June.

Here’s the Giffords ad:


O’Dea lags well behind incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in candidate fundraising, and with no real national support expected in Colorado for the Republican candidate, there’s not going to be much O’Dea can do other than sit there and get punched in the face over and over and over again.

Polling data shows that O’Dea is trailing Bennet by double digits. That might have been O’Dea’s high-water mark when all is said and done.

Boebert Pens Angry Letter to Biden on CORE Act

Lauren Boebert drafting her letter to President Biden.

As Kimberly Nicoletti reports for The Aspen Times, supporters of the long effort to pass the CORE Act, which would designate new national monuments and federal lands, are hoping a final decision is just around the corner:

Colorado ski towns could have a national monument right in their backyards, relatively speaking, and supporters hope it happens this fall.

On Saturday, Vet Voice Foundation, community leaders, elected officials, and 10th Mountain veterans — including a 100-year-old 10th Mountain veteran — will gather with the public at the Colorado Snowsports Museum for a rally to support the proposed Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument…

CORE is a 10-year citizens’ campaign that has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives five times but stalled in the Senate. It would safeguard areas including the Thompson Divide, the San Juan Mountains, the Continental Divide and Camp Hale, and the Curecanti National Recreation Area. [Pols emphasis]

CORE Act champions, including Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper, Rep. Neguse and Gov. Polis, are urging the Biden administration to designate the Camp Hale-Continental Divide region a national monument through executive action.

As readers of Colorado Pols probably know, the CORE Act is something that has wide support across Colorado but has been regularly opposed by some Republicans doing the bidding of the extraction and logging industries. Republicans often pretend that their opposition is because of other interests — including a tortured attempt to claim that the CORE Act would increase wildfires — but those arguments are specious at best.

Speaking of “specious,” Colorado Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert recently drafted a letter to President Biden signed by fellow Colorado Reps. Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn (as well as non-Colorado lunatics such as Reps. Louis Gohmert, Andy Biggs, and Paul Gosar) asking Biden to oppose the CORE Act. The idiocy of this letter is instructive for understanding the lack of legitimate arguments against protecting more than 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado for recreational use. You can read the full letter here (Boebert-AntiquitiesAct-PDF); we’ve broken down the main arguments below.

Mr. Biden,

We write with grave concern regarding new efforts to unilaterally impose severe land-use restrictions on the people of Colorado and across the American West. For years, partisan big-city Democrats – with the full backing and support of the far-Left green energy cartel – have attempted to implement massive new land grabs through the so-called Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act. The CORE Act land grab seeks to impose increased land restrictions on nearly 400,000 acres, 73,000 acres of which would be designated as new wilderness and close numerous forms of outdoor recreation and multiple-use, exacerbating wildfires in the process.

Boebert can’t even bother to address Biden as “President,” but that’s pretty standard childishness from the representative of the third congressional district. The first paragraph is filled with MAGA jargon such as “big-city Democrats” and “far-Left green energy cartel,” and it concludes by claiming that the CORE Act would “exacerbate wildfires.” We’re not sure how the logic works here, but presumably Boebert is concerned that private industry won’t be allowed to rake the forests if the CORE Act is implemented.

This is a good point to stop and remind readers that both Boebert and Buck were among a minority in Congress who just this month voted AGAINST the Wildfire Recovery Act for reasons neither person has bothered to explain.

Boebert’s letter warns that “without local buy-in, any designation of land under the Antiquities Act will be subject to considerable controversy, as well as never-ending litigation.” What the letter does not mention is that there is, in fact, substantial “local buy-in” for the CORE Act.

A small sample of local support for the CORE Act that this letter conveniently ignores.

This is where things get particularly ridiculous. The letter lists 59 “stakeholders” that have formally objected to the CORE Act. Before we get into that list, remember that the CORE Act only deals with public lands in Colorado.

There are a handful of national organizations included in her letter among 59 opposition “stakeholders,” such as the American Energy Alliance; the Independent Petroleum Association of America; Industrial Miners Association; and groups called “Protect Americans Now” and “Less Government.” There are also a number of corporations, such as Encore Energy; Prime Fuels Corp.; and Sabre Gold.

Colorado Reps. Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn oppose the CORE Act.

The “stakeholders” list also includes four organizations from Arizona; four organizations based in New Mexico; and even one that is from California (California Farm Bureau). How this is relevant is not a question we can answer, though it would be fun to ask Boebert why she thinks California should be involved in decisions that affect Colorado.

There are a handful of groups on Boebert’s list that are actually located in Colorado, among them the Colorado Livestock Association and the Colorado Wool Growers Association. Opposition is also listed as coming from Colorado counties such as Archuleta; Cheyenne; “Freemont” [sic]; Dolores; Mesa; Mineral; and Montezuma. Not mentioned, of course, is the pesky fact that the CORE Act would not designate any new protected land in any of these counties.

Boebert’s letter concludes with these dire warnings:

While Camp Hale and our servicemembers that were stationed there made important contributions to World War II, we don’t support the efforts of extremist environmentalists who are seeking to hijack this historic place to create a new land designation – a designation that literally does not exist – to prohibit timber harvesting and mining on nearly 30,000 acres of land.

A second request made by our colleagues would permanently withdraw 200,000 acres of land in the Thompson Divide – an area blessed with an abundance of natural gas deposits – from energy exploration. Notwithstanding the fact that natural gas prices have surged to a 14-year high, this request is a solution in search of a problem since the area of controversy has already been administratively withdrawn. [Pols emphasis]

Um, okay.

The CORE Act unites and improves four previously introduced bills: the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Legacy Act; the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act; the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act; and the Curecanti National Recreation Area Boundary Establishment Act.

The Antiquities Act grants the President power to determine how much land to protect under historic or scientific interest. Despite protests from Boebert, Buck, Lamborn and friends, President Biden could take executive action to finally make the CORE Act a reality at any time.

Fox 31/Emerson: Polis and Bennet with Double-Digit Leads

UPDATE: Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman reports on the response from the various campaigns to today’s polling numbers.

Up first, the frat house that is the Joe O’Dea campaign strikes back with its familiar brand of inexplicable chest-pounding:

A spokesman for O’Dea’s campaign disputed the poll’s findings in a text message to Colorado Politics.

“If this is a 10 point race, Joe Biden’s inflation crisis was transitory and Michael Bennet is a professional fly fisherman,” said Kyle Kohli, O’Dea’s communications director.

Saying his candidate has “massive appeal to voters who are sick of both political parties,” Kohli added that the campaign feels as good about O’Dea’s chances as they did when he won the primary in late June despite massive spending by Democrats to boost his more conservative opponent.

Righto! O’Dea spokesperson Kyle Kohli should have erred more toward this response from the campaign for gubernatorial no-hopeful Heidi Ganahl:

Ganahl spokeswoman Lexi Swearingen said her candidate is “looking forward to surprising people again this November,” noting that the Republican won the CU regent’s race six years ago amid predictions she wouldn’t.

This statement is significantly less ridiculous than the one from Kohli, though it wrongly presupposes that more than a handful of Coloradans had any sort of opinion whatsoever on the 2016 CU Regent race. But at least Ganahl’s campaign is taking their lumps with a modicum of grace.

Finally, here’s what the O’Dea and Ganahl campaigns SHOULD have done:

Bennet’s and Polis’ campaigns didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The numbers speak for themselves.


The big Colorado political news this morning comes via a new  FOX31/Channel 2/Emerson College/The Hill poll showing that Democrats hold commanding leads in the two top-ticket races in Colorado.

As The Hill newspaper reports:

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) are on track to win their reelection bids in November, with each man holding a double-digit lead over his Republican challenger, according to a new Emerson College Polling/The Hill survey released Thursday.

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis leads Republican Hiedi Heidi Ganahl by an astronomical 17 points with less than four weeks to go until Colorado voters start receiving their mail ballots.

Fox 31 is trying their best to make these numbers seem less terrible for Ganahl, but no amount of sugarcoating can change the taste for Republicans:

Of the respondents, 53% said they would vote for Polis if the election were held today, while 36% would vote for Ganahl. But a significant minority of voters said they are still undecided — 9% for this race.

Even if Ganahl picked up every last undecided voter in this poll, she’d still be trailing Polis by 8 points.

Meanwhile, in the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet is polling 10 points ahead of Republican Joe O’Dea. The poll shows that 14% of Colorado voters remain undecided, while 4% plan to vote for “Someone Else.”

As The Hill notes, these numbers do not comport with recent claims from national Republicans:

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), told reporters on Tuesday that O’Dea is “barely behind” Bennet in the polls and has a real chance of ousting Colorado’s senior senator this year.

If Scott and the NRSC really believed this, of course, then they would be spending at least some money in Colorado to support O’Dea. But they aren’t.

The Republican path to victory in Colorado is in here somewhere. Maybe.

These new numbers certainly track with other recent public polling in Colorado’s Senate race. Even conservative pollster McLaughlin and Associates had Bennet with an 8-point lead over O’Dea in its mid-August survey. There has been less available public polling in the race for Governor, largely because no serious political professional has been able to find any daylight for Ganahl’s bumbling campaign.

Interestingly, both Ganahl and O’Dea are stuck at about 36% support. This doesn’t suggest a ceiling for the Republican candidates, but there’s not a ton of room for potential growth based on top-ticket races in Colorado over the last decade. Bennet may not be polling at 50%, for example, but recent history suggests that he can win re-election handily regardless; in the last three election cycles, no top-ticket Republican candidate has finished with more than 44% of the total vote in Colorado.

Of course Democrats (and Republicans) still need to keep pushing hard through Election Day to turn out every possible voter, but we’re starting to get a pretty good picture of how things might look in November.

O’Dea Campaign Enters Blame Game/Backstab Phase Of Defeat

Joe O'Dea

GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea (R).

In the far-right Epoch Times today, we’re seeing the first of what we expect to become a flood of second-guessing and recrimination among Republicans over the failure of Colorado GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea to gain traction–despite pressure to show strength as Republican prospects in other states dwindle under the weight of even less qualified candidates. O’Dea’s impending defeat, forecast clearly by all but a couple of outlier polls, is part of a broader shift in political winds that may upend the conventional wisdom of the party in power losing support in midterm elections.

Despite running a triangulation campaign to distance himself from the locally unpopular Republican brand, O’Dea’s campaign has done pretty well at enforcing message discipline among fellow Republicans, Colorado GOP chair Kristi Burton Brown’s ill-timed outbursts against abortion rights being a notable exception. But with only seven weeks left until Election Day and O’Dea showing no signs of competitiveness, the hard questions couldn’t be held off forever:

As Republican Joe O’Dea hopes to unseat Democrat incumbent Sen. Michael Bennett [sic-Pols] in Colorado’s race in November, some GOP observers are pointing the finger at Washington and others at the O’Dea campaign for the GOP’s election struggles in the Rocky Mountain state…

[I]n interviews with The Epoch Times, GOP insiders have complained about either the lack of financial support coming from Washington for the O’Dea campaign, or have claimed that the campaign lacks the requisite grassroots support to win.

“I don’t think he’s getting enough support from national interests, whether we’re talking about the NRSC, the RNC or whatever national group that normally supports Republicans,” [Ryan Lynch of Polstar Strategies] said.

It’s no secret that despite lip service paid by Mitch McConnell to being “all in” for Joe O’Dea, that hasn’t resulted in actual spending to help O’Dea while Republicans continue to make large investments in higher priority states like Arizona and Georgia. O’Dea has been on an East Coast ring-kissing tour in the last week in a desperate attempt to convince national donors that his campaign is worth spending money on–but polls like today’s Fox 31/Emerson survey showing O’Dea losing by ten points undercut any pitch O’Dea can make.

And then the Epoch Times handed the microphone to O’Dea’s vanquished primary opponent:

O’Dea, says his former GOP Senate opponent, is trying to rely on a third party to rescue him when the candidate’s own party doesn’t like his political positions or the people who represent his campaign.

“Conservatives are feeling as though they’ve been sold out by Washington,” said Colorado State Rep. Ron Hanks, who lost to O’Dea by ten points in an open primary this year where voters of any party could participate.

“Grassroots and conservative Republicans that care about real issues, were sold out by Joe O’Dea and his campaign team that he brought in who were fronts for Liz Cheney [Republicans],” said Hanks.

Here in Colorado, soon-to-be ex-Rep. Ron Hanks has generally been discredited after Hanks baselessly claimed fraud in his defeat by O’Dea in the June 28th primary. But just as we saw with FOX News’ Tucker Carlson’s feature story making a hero out of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, all it takes is a fresh audience who doesn’t know any better to rehabilitate a would-be pariah. And as much as O’Dea doesn’t want to admit it, Hanks is right: the tradeoff for Republicans with O’Dea was always supposed to be ideology for victory, and O’Dea is now setting himself up to deliver neither.

When the post-mortem begins in September, your campaign is pretty much over.

Poll: Who Will Win Colorado’s U.S. Senate Race? (9/21)

Michael Bennet, Joe O’Dea.

Getting back to our general election series of totally unscientific for-discussion-purposes-only reader polls–which you can take as gospel if you want, though that didn’t work out well for Ron Hanks–is the question waiting for Colorado voters at the top of the ballots next month: who will win the U.S. Senate general election race pitting incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet against upstart Republican businessman Joe O’Dea? We’ve heard what Mitch McConnell wants and Five Thirty-Eight thinks, now let’s get a temperature check from our readers.

*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?

Who will win Colorado's U.S. Senate race in 2022?

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In Which Joe O’Dea Claims to be Pro-Choice

Colorado Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea released a new television ad over the weekend that most politicians would be ashamed to have approved. The ad attempts to paint O’Dea as a “pro-choice” candidate, which is nothing short of a complete lie.

In the ad, which you can see below, O’Dea’s daughter, Tayler O’Dea, says, “My dad supports a woman’s right to choose.” The ad then cuts to Steve Kornacki of NBC News saying, “O’Dea is running as a pro-choice candidate” and Marshall Zelinger of 9News saying, “O’Dea…supports a woman’s right to choose early in pregnancy.”


We could discuss at length how this advertisement is completely false and goes against everything O’Dea has said about abortion rights. We could also point out that O’Dea’s campaign has regularly tried to claim that he is both pro-life AND pro-choice.

But the simplest way to explain why this ad is false is using O’Dea’s own words. You’ll notice that O’Dea himself never appears and says I am pro-choice, because he is not. And how do we know that Joe O’Dea is pro-life, and NOT pro-choice? Because Joe O’Dea said it himself in May:


Republicans know that the issue of abortion rights is a huge problem for them, particularly since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June. Joe O’Dea probably can’t win an election in a heavily pro-choice state like Colorado by being “pro-life,” so O’Dea is now content to just lie about his position in order to curry favor with voters who haven’t been paying close attention to his words on the issue.

This is the worst kind of cynical politics. A candidate who would approve an ad like this has no business representing Coloradans in elected office.

Joe O’Dea Blows Meet The Press Lifeline

Mouth, insert foot. Repeat until defeated.

Over the past few weeks, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s campaign has stumbled in a series of interviews and public appearances, denting Republican hopes that he could represent a viable fallback option among generally declining GOP prospects in the rapidly-approaching midterm elections. After an attempt in early August to put daylight between himself and ex-President Donald Trump ran aground as O’Dea clarified repeatedly that he would vote for Trump in the event Trump wins the 20224 GOP nomination, O’Dea took aim squarely at his own foot by announcing unbidden he had voted for 2020’s Proposition 115, a rejected abortion restriction measure that made a liar of O’Dea after claiming for months to “support Roe v. Wade.

In September, O’Dea compounded his problems, first by admitting to the AP that he didn’t consider “all the nuances” when he voted for Prop 115. This was followed just a few days later by an appearance on FOX 31 where O’Dea dodged the question about Proposition 115 saying “I don’t write that bill.” Then after all of that digging, O’Dea capped it off with with a historically cringeworthy interview with 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark, where O’Dea announced his quest to be the U.S. Senator who “brings balance to women’s rights.”

In the ten days since O’Dea’s self-immolation on 9NEWS, we’ve been watching for signs that O’Dea might be retooling his message to better withstand scrutiny–like substituting the word “bureaucrat” for “agent” when spreading misinformation about the IRS funding in the Inflation Reduction Act. But on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday morning, O’Dea disabused us of the silly idea that he was learning valuable lessons from his stumbles in local media interviews.

CHUCK TODD: I’m curious, you voted for a ballot initiative that didn’t have [exceptions for rape, incest, or medical necessity]. As Dobbs been overturned, have you found yourself thinking about this issue a little bit differently?

JOE O’DEA: Well, look, it’s the center of attention in a lot of cases. And I’m exactly where I was when I started this campaign, haven’t changed. I didn’t write that bill. [Pols emphasis] But I believe that, you know, it should be a woman’s right in the first five months.

The great balancer of women’s rights has decided! Five months, ladies!

If you read closely, what Joe O’Dea is saying is that since his vote for Proposition 115 occurred before he launched his campaign for U.S. Senate, he has been “consistent”–since he started his campaign. That is Cory Gardner-level prevarication, but as usual O’Dea lacks the polished delivery that helped Gardner get away with such audacious deception. And just like it was to the local press, saying “I didn’t write that bill” is an intelligence-insulting defense of O’Dea’s vote for Proposition 115. O’Dea would show more character simply admitting he didn’t “look at the nuances” like he managed to one time–but that would only demonstrate that O’Dea’s credibility to bring “balance to women’s rights” is nonexistent.

Next up, O’Dea was asked about the recent political stunt by Republican governors to transport undocumented immigrants from the southern border to liberal northern cities, most recently last week when 50 immigrants were flown by Florida from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts:

CHUCK TODD: One of the candidates you promoted is Ron DeSantis. Are you comfortable with the idea of using migrants as a political tool?

JOE O’DEA: Well, look, I think Ron DeSantis and Governor Abbott were right to bring some visibility to this issue… [Pols emphasis]

There’s growing evidence that after making political hay throughout the summer by busing undocumented immigrants to northern cities in political protest, this latest stunt of flying dozens of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard is backfiring politically on Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis. Dumping immigrants, sometimes reportedly under false pretenses of jobs and shelter waiting for them at journey’s end, is not a serious policy response to a serious issue–it’s just the cheapest of political grandstands, with no positive effect on either side of the debate. It’s not something any responsible politician should support.

O’Dea has expressed support for Gov. DeSantis already, but this is the first time we’ve seen O’Dea explicitly come out in favor of this highly controversial policy–and depending on how the story unfolds over the next few weeks, it could be a mistake O’Dea dearly regrets. The rest of this interview is notable mostly for how little O’Dea has improved his message after ample time to purge ridiculous statements like “I didn’t vote for that bill” from his script. That in turn only further highlights O’Dea’s silly semantic dishonesty about being consistent only since he started his campaign.

Joe O’Dea wasn’t ready for Denver market prime time, so we don’t know how he expected to do better on Meet The Press with the same message. For national Republicans deciding whether to throw more than lip service O’Dea’s way in 2022’s closing weeks, this was a performance that will close their wallets–in a place they are very likely to see it.

Was it Ken Buck proudly owning calling a rape case “buyer’s remorse” on MTP 12 years ago?

Longtime readers will debate that. But it was another terrible showing for O’Dea with time to change course quickly running out.

VzTy V wKT m

Joe O’Dea’s “MAGA Republican” Journey

Wait, this isn’t a circle!

Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea has a lot of positions on a handful of important issues — many of which he squares into the shape of a circle over time.

O’Dea’s penchant for massaging his own beliefs has been most apparent on the issue of abortion rights. His waffling on this issue has become so well-known among political journalists that he was recently used as a cautionary tale in an episode of the national NPR Politics Podcast during a discussion about Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance:

As NPR Political Correspondent Danielle Kurtzleben explained:

[Joe] O’Dea has some sort of inconsistencies [on abortion rights] which Democrats are focusing in on as a big issue in the race.

O’Dea can perhaps explain these “inconsistencies” in person to Vance, who he will be seeing a lot this week as both participate in a couple of “MAGA Republican” fundraising events. O’Dea was among the attendees at a fundraiser for Republican Senate candidates in Miami, Florida on Thursday evening that was hosted by a cringeworthy group of big GOP donors. O’Dea will spend the rest of the weekend at Sea Island in Georgia, where the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is putting on a two-day retreat that includes a golf tournament and clay shooting for the #HorseSushi type of crowd.


For a guy who has tried hard to distance himself from his past support for former President Donald Trump and other “MAGA Republican” election deniers, it’s remarkable how often O’Dea keeps appearing with these very same people at Republican events — whether in Colorado or across the country.

Given the company that O’Dea is keeping this weekend — including the likes of Vance and Arizona Senate hopeful Blake Masters — it’s worth taking another look at how O’Dea’s public comments about “MAGA Republicans” and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection have changed over a relatively short period of time…


Just a Rally (February 2022)

“That’s a rally in my opinion.”

     — Joe O’Dea on the Jan. 6 insurrection (Feb. 2022)

During a Republican Senate candidate forum in Evergreen, Colorado, O’Dea expressed a remarkably strange opinion about the insurrection that does not track with his efforts to portray himself as more mainstream Republican candidate. As the Colorado Times Recorder reports:

While O’Dea has consistently said Republicans should move on from the 2020 election and focus on future elections, he said he had friends at the Jan. 6 riot and preferred to call it a “rally” instead of an insurrection while answering a question at a February candidate forum in Evergreen.

“I had friends that were out at January 6, they went nowhere near the building,” O’Dea said. “That’s a rally in my opinion.” [Pols emphasis]

This is a completely ridiculous thing to say, of course, which is probably why O’Dea has been walking it back over time.


No Blame for Trump (June 2022)


     — Joe O’Dea on whether former President Trump deserves any blame for the Jan. 6 insurrection (June 2022)

During a final pre-Primary candidate forum hosted by The Colorado Sun and CBS4 Denver, O’Dea said that he would support Trump if he were the Republican

nominee for President in 2024 and agreed with then-opponent Ron Hanks that Trump was not to blame for the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. From The Colorado Sun:

Both candidates said Trump does not deserve blame — even in part — for the events that unfolded on Jan. 6. 

Hearings? What Hearings? (July 2022)

A few weeks later, the newly-minted Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Colorado told FOX News that he wasn’t paying any attention to revelations coming out of the Jan. 6 House Committee hearings. Left unsaid was that he hoped no Colorado voters were paying attention, either.


Still Backing Trump (August 2022)

Following the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago in search of classified documents illegally-held by Trump, O’Dea confirmed to 9News that he would still support Trump for President in 2024.

Later in August, O’Dea would say publicly — TWICE — that the raid on Mar-a-Lago was a “political stunt.” As more information emerged about the reasoning behind the Mar-a-Lago raid, O’Dea’s comments began to look increasingly terrible. Let the backtracking begin (again)!


Perhaps I Misheard Myself… (September 2022)

“I’ve said that [Trump] does bear some blame.”

     — Joe O’Dea on the Jan. 6 insurrection (Sept. 2022)

In his first campaign interview with 9News, O’Dea claimed that he does NOT believe that Trump is blameless related to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Unless you skipped all of the other words above this point, you are well aware that this is NOT what O’Dea said just a few months ago.

Here’s that full exchange:

KYLE CLARK: Okay. Okay. You’ve said that President Trump doesn’t deserve any blame for the January 6 attacks. You don’t think that he egged on those people to do what they did.

JOE O’DEA: I’ve said that he does bear some blame. And I’ve also said it’s a black eye on the country. And I believe he could have done a lot more to dissuade that crowd, three and a half hours to come out and say stop, that’s too long, he should have used his position to stop that immediately. I don’t believe in violence. Anybody that was violent that day deserves to be accountable, just like through all the protests.


In this same interview, O’Dea generally tries avoiding the topic of Trump and “MAGA Republicans” altogether:


Miami and Sea Island (September 2022)

The “MAGA Republican” circle is complete…

Via the Colorado Times Recorder (9/15/22)


Republicans Admit They’re Stuck In Cory Gardner’s Failed Groove

Cory Gardner, Joe O’Dea.

Axios’ John Frank, who wrote an in-depth story for the Colorado Sun about the “Cardboard Cory” grassroots campaign that helped unseat one-term wonder GOP Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020, is back today with a fresh look at 2022 GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s attempt to run in a similar lane as Gardner’s narrowly successful 2014 election–and why Democrats in 2022 believe they have the formula to overcome the tactics that worked for Gardner in 2014:

Eight years ago, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner pitched himself as a folksy outsider and hardworking moderate, drawing national praise and independent support on his path to unseating a Democratic incumbent in a midterm election.

Flash-forward: This year, Republican Joe O’Dea is charting a similar course. He casts himself as a moderate and “not a politician,” luring national attention and money in his bid to upset Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

But this time, Democrats are ready for him. [Pols emphasis]

In a state that has been trending steadily leftward as a result of migration from coastal states and urbanization of the Front Range corridor, we’ve written a great deal in this space about how Republicans have attempted to cope with this seemingly inexorable demographic shift away from any possibility of a majority coalition. With the Republican Party’s local brand suffering badly from the party’s march rightward nationally, first in reaction to Barack Obama and then in support of Donald Trump, Republican candidates seeking to win statewide have generally been forced to downplay or even pay lip service to opposing their own national party’s agenda.

That’s exactly what Cory Gardner did in his successful 2014 campaign, shamelessly reinventing his position on key issues like abortion and then daring his opponents to make an issue of it. Once Mark Udall did so, Gardner convinced the media that Udall was “obsessed” with the issue rather than addressing the substance of Udall’s criticism.

What’s missing in 2022 is evidence that this counter-brand strategy is working for Joe O’Dea:

The impact: Democrats’ moves have forced O’Dea to answer tough questions and clarify his stance on multiple issues. On abortion, he’s tried to appeal to both sides of the debate, and said he would bring “balance to women’s rights.”

Cory Gardner enraged his opponents (and reporters) with has unflappable evasions when confronted by issues he didn’t want to address. For all of Gardner’s faults, he would never have allowed a statement as self-destructive as Odea’s vow to bring “balance to women’s rights” to pass his lips. Since the Supreme Court decision just before the June 28th primary overturning Roe v. Wade, O’Dea has stumbled repeatedly on the issue of abortion rights by voluntarily taking ownership of Proposition 115, the 2020 abortion restriction measure, and then awkwardly walking back that support by claiming he didn’t “look at all the nuances” and more recently “I didn’t write that bill.”

It’s not just the political neophyte O’Dea’s inability to manage his own message, but also how the experience of Gardner has made voters wary in a way they were not in 2014. Gardner succeeded in a naive political climate in which conventional wisdom had been lulled into complacency by the presumption that issues like abortion rights were “settled” to a degree that not even a conservative Supreme Court would be able to roll them back. For years before and after Gardner’s 2014 election, the increasingly dire warnings from abortion rights activists that the unthinkable was playing out were ignored. By the fall of 2020, Cory Gardner’s votes to transform the Supreme Court into a body fully capable of repealing Roe had proven all of his defenders wrong (Gardner went on to lose by nearly 10 points to Democrat John Hickenlooper).

But for some reason, even Republicans are repeating this narrative. Here’s GOP “strategist” Matt Connelly being quoted by Axios:

“When you have someone like Cory or O’Dea, they were very successful in making their brand one of a Washington, D.C., outsider.”


Anyway, 2022 will not be a reprise of 2014, even if Republicans use the same playbook. The times have changed, and O’Dea hasn’t lived up to his billing as a candidate who can separate himself from the toxic Republican brand.

Joe O’Dea 2022 is the box-office bomb sequel to Cory Gardner 2014.

Deborah Flora Explains Truth About O’Dea and Abortion

Deborah Flora

Republican Senate nominee Joe O’Dea responded today to the big (bizarre) news that Sen. Lindsey Graham is introducing legislation in the U.S. Senate for a nationwide ban on abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy. As you might expect, O’Dea is trying really hard to thread a needle with a giant piece of rope.

As Nick Coltrain of The Denver Post reports:

O’Dea thinks the 15-week ban goes too far.

“America wants balance on the abortion issue, not a forever cold war between the far left and the far right,” O’Dea said in a statement Tuesday. “Congress should pass a bill protecting a woman’s right to choose early in pregnancy, whether a woman lives in Mississippi or Massachusetts, and there should be sensible limits on non-medically necessary late term abortion and parental notification for minors. I don’t support Senator Graham’s bill.”

O’Dea instead supports his own arbitrary ban on abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is just a different way of saying that he has his own ideas for how to assign reproductive rights to women in America.

But as we’ve written before in this space, and as incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet has explained in his own television ads, the most important thing you need to know about O’Dea’s ever-changing position on abortion is that O’Dea himself acknowledges that he would have supported all of the recent Supreme Court nominees whose votes overturned Roe v. Wade in June — even with the benefit of hindsight.


This point about supporting right-wing Supreme Court Justices has not been lost on the Republican base in Colorado. Deborah Flora is a right-wing radio host who was briefly a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2022 (you’re excused if you already forgot about that). As the Colorado Times Recorder recently noted, Flora praised O’Dea for this very position on her radio show on September 8.

Listen for yourself:


FLORA: Here’s the bottom line: You know, we may disagree on some of these issues, you know. And I’ve served on the board of a pro-life organization supporting women in crisis, predominantly, but one of the reasons why I ran [for U.S. Senate] is Michael Bennet is actively pushing abortion up until, or after the moment of birth. Michael Bennet voted against the “Born Alive Act,” and Joe, I know you’ve said that you would have supported the most recent Supreme Court Justices that Trump nominated, which are the reason why Roe v. Wade was overturned. So, I appreciate that, [and] I just want to get that out of the way because I think it’s important for people to know. [Pols emphasis]

First of all, nobody supports “abortion after birth.” We already have a law against that. But the key here is that Flora fully understands the functional reality of O’Dea’s support for the Trump Supreme Court nominees — and the reason that he has made that position clear: It is a nod and a wink to right-wing Republicans that when push comes to shove, O’Dea will be right where the right-wing wants him to be on abortion.

As Axios Denver wrote in August:

O’Dea’s comments on abortion are the latest example of the candidate embracing conservative viewpoints and putting guardrails on his middle-of-the-road reputation.

The other most obvious juxtaposition is how he claimed to be in favor of maintaining Roe v. Wade’s protections, yet acknowledged he would have supported Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. [Pols emphasis]

As we’ve said before, O’Dea’s position on abortion rights — whatever he says now — is not really relevant when you consider that he would have held open the door for the same Supreme Court decision that led to overturning Roe v. Wade. Deborah Flora gets it, as do other Republican voters in Colorado.

Everything else is just noise.

Republicans to Introduce 15 Week Abortion Ban

UPDATE: Wait, really?


What has two thumbs and just screwed Colorado Republicans?

As Inae Oh reports for Mother Jones, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is going to make the final two months of the 2022 election considerably harder for many Republicans candidates in Colorado (and around the country):

Lindsey Graham is set to introduce a new bill to restrict abortion nationally, specifically banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. [Pols emphasis]

This will mark the sixth time that the South Carolina governor has introduced legislation to restrict abortion at the federal level. The plan, which will be introduced Tuesday, has no chance of surviving a Democratic-controlled Senate; even if Republicans seize control of Congress, it would still likely face serious challenges, including an all-but-certain veto from the president.

But what’s interesting here is that by once again proposing nationwide abortion restrictions, Graham is reportedly hoping that the legislation will convince voters that the GOP is willing to make some concessions on the issue—that amid intense outrage, the Republican Party is not as cruel as the Democrats have been portraying. [Pols emphasis] But much of Graham’s logic here weaponizes the stigma, as well as the general misunderstanding of the term “late-term abortions,” and it’s difficult to see newly mobilized voters falling for it in our post-Roe landscape.

If a “15 week” abortion ban sounds familiar, it should: This is the same arbitrary restriction proposed by Mississippi lawmakers that led to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court decision in June that essentially overturned Roe v. Wade.

This bears repeating. Senator Graham is introducing a bill to ban abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy — a timeline that has no scientific or medical basis whatsoever — that would create the same abortion restrictions as the Mississippi law that led to the destruction of federal abortion rights in the United States. Graham thinks that this will somehow be helpful to Republicans; he apparently didn’t get the memo that “nuance” is dead when it comes to abortion rights.

Graham’s legislation is a disaster for every Republican candidate in Colorado who is not running in a safe Republican district. Current elected officials, including Reps. Ken Buck (R-Greeleyish) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) have already signed on to the idea of making further abortion restrictions at a national level (so long, “state’s rights”). Here’s a short list of those 2022 candidates in Colorado who will find this to be particularly unhelpful in the weeks before Election Day on Nov. 8:

Joe O’Dea, U.S. Senate

O’Dea has spent the last couple of months diligently trying to take every conceivable position possible on the issue of abortion rights, other than the only one that really matters: Supporting a woman’s right to choose. His latest answer on the subject is that he wants to go to Washington D.C. to “bring balance to women’s rights.”

O’Dea says that he would like to restrict abortions at an equally-arbitrary deadline of 20 weeks of pregnancy. It will be hard for O’Dea to argue that he would oppose Graham’s 15 week deadline given that his own 20 week deadline is not based on any tangible scientific evidence.

John Kellner

John Kellner, Attorney General

Kellner already screwed this up when he said out loud at a candidate forum in August that he considered himself “somebody who supports the Dobbs decision returning this back to the states to make a decision” and later couldn’t answer a ‘yes or no’ question about whether he supported a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions. But Graham’s bill destroys whatever wiggle room Kellner might have tried to hold onto because the concept of “state’s rights” would go out the window.

If a Congress were to approve Graham’s legislation, it’s tough to believe that Kellner would still work to protect abortion rights in Colorado if elected Attorney General. He could just say, Oh, I support state’s rights but Congress changed the law, so what are you gonna do?

♦ Erik Aadland, Congress (CO-07)

Aadland is about as far right as you can get on the issue of abortion rights. He cheered the demise of Roe V. Wade and praised the Texas abortion law that basically made bounty hunters out of regular citizens who even heard the word “abortion” whispered by a neighbor.

♦ Barbara Kirkmeyer, Congress (CO-08)

Kirkmeyer has been one of Colorado’s most consistent anti-choice advocates for decades, but even she sees the political danger in talking about her position. Kirkmeyer opposes abortion for any reason. We don’t even need to ask if Kirkmeyer would vote YES on Graham’s bill if given the opportunity. She’s like political Thanos in this regard:


To be clear, Graham’s bill is bad for any Colorado Republican trying to finesse a position on abortion rights that is anything other than supporting a woman’s right to choose. Election after election, and poll after poll, have proved Colorado is an overwhelmingly pro-choice state — which is why dolts like GOP Lieutenant Governor candidate Danny Moore are trying to pretend reality is different. From The Colorado Sun’sUnaffiliated” newsletter:

“The Republican Party is not trying to take away anybody’s right to choose,” Danny Moore, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor [Pols emphasis], said last week on Jeff Fard’s interview show in response to a question about abortion. That statement comes despite the GOP’s efforts at the state Capitol and through ballot measures to restrict or outright ban abortions in Colorado. Moore said he thinks voters should decide Colorado’s abortion laws — even though they already have time and again through ballot measures — while criticizing the law passed by Democrats this year enshrining nearly unfettered abortion access in the state. (Heidi Ganahl, Moore’s running mate, wants to roll back Colorado’s new abortion-access bill and believes the procedure should be banned except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of a mother is at risk.)

Danny Moore is apparently unaware that many interviews with politicians are recorded or written down and are easily accessible to anyone with a connection to the Internet.

Lindsey Graham is expected to announce his national abortion ban legislation sometime today.

O’Dea Backs Away From “87,000 IRS Agents” Fiction…Sort Of

Seeking to explain why he opposes the overwhelmingly popular Inflation Reduction Act, a.k.a. The BFD Act, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea has leaned heavily on the claim that the legislation will result in the hiring of “87,000 IRS agents,” who will immediately commence with the mass financial persecution of millions of ordinary Americans in order to further squeeze them of tax revenue like the Sheriff of Nottingham.

If you haven’t already looked it up, this argument is completely false.

But that didn’t stop O’Dea from invoking it as recently as a few days ago in his ill-fated encounter with 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark, in which O’Dea claimed among other eye-poppingly disastrous statements that his mission in the U.S. Senate would be to bring “balance to women’s rights.”

Although campaigns reuse headlines published by news outlets regularly in campaign ads, what we have here is a completely fake headline using 9NEWS’ logo and typeface to suggests 9NEWS accepts its premise. Which, to be clear, they don’t:

JOE O’DEA: …What it does is add 87,000, 40,000 IRS agents, depending on who’s counting them, and they’re gonna shake down Americans for more taxes. Let’s take that money. And let’s put that on border security. And let’s put money into our state and our local cops so we can hire more cops. That’s where I think our priorities are. And those are the priorities. I’ll chase.

KYLE CLARK: Let’s talk about that. You and I both know that the IRS wants to staff back up to current levels. So they can make sure that wealthy Americans are paying the taxes that they owe, there’s this $600 billion tax gap between what’s legally owed and what’s paid. So you want to defund the guys that police our tax laws, because you know, the people they’re looking at are the wealthiest Americans like you and like, Senator Bennet, they’re not looking at ordinary Americans…

Again, this is not a slightly false claim. It’s been comprehensively debunked by every unbiased fact checker in American media. O’Dea, whose feints toward the center are hamstrung at every step by his fealty to Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), has no real justification for opposing this popular legislation other than partisanship. He is therefore obliged to make stuff up–and once you’ve done that in a political campaign, walking it back is never easy.

Here’s how O’Dea is trying:

For the last few days, O’Dea has substituted the word “bureaucrats” instead of “agents” when referring to the IRS’s alleged expansion plans. “Bureaucrat” has a negative but much less threatening implication than “agents,” and won’t help Lauren Boebert keep the idea that these new staff will all be armed stormtroopers alive in her angry House floor rants. It’s also not any more accurate, since the majority of these staff hires are to replace existing IRS employees expected to retire in the next 10 years. But what we see here is an attempt to make O’Dea proven-false rhetoric ever so slightly more defensible.

In short, Joe O’Dea is still lying, and he admits however subtly that he has been lying the whole time.

There are no points awarded, but it’s as close to admitting error as you’re going to get.

The GMS Podcast: Asshats in Key States

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s pledge to decide what rights women should get to have, and we consider how the breakdown of the national map for Senate Republicans (“Asshats in Key States”) is causing problems for O’Dea in Colorado.

We also talk about the latest state fundraising reports; the deadline for the recall of State Sen. Kevin Priola; and we bemoan the fact that the campaign for Denver Mayor is already well underway even though the midterm election still has eight weeks to go.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at Or send emails to or

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher |


Eyes Off The Prize: Priola Recall Gets Election Day Deadline

State Sen. Kevin Priola (D-Henderson).

A press release from Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold today announces the approval of petition language to recall state Sen. Kevin Priola (freshly D), and a deadline set for recall organizers led by conservative activist Michael Fields to turn in the requisite signatures coinciding with Election Day 2022:

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office has approved the petition format for the effort to recall Senator Kevin Priola. Proponents now have until November 8th, 60 days after notice of approval, to collect the required signatures and submit them to the Secretary of State’s Office for review.

The Secretary of State’s Office informed proponents on August 29 that they must:

Collect signatures from constituents in Senate District 13, based on the new map that went into effect in 2022; and
Submit no fewer than 18,291 valid signatures in order to be deemed sufficient and hold a special recall election.

The signature threshold for sufficiency was determined based on voter counts from the 2020 election in Senate District 25 per Colorado state law. This determination was made in consultation with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

Also on August 29, the Secretary of State’s Office provided a cost estimate of $199,079.95 for a special election to proponents of the petition to recall Senator Kevin Priola. This cost will be paid by the counties in which the special election is held, should proponents’ signatures be deemed sufficient.

You couldn’t ask for a better way to sum up the almost unimaginable folly of launching a recall campaign against a locally popular elected official for the unforgivable sin of switching parties in the middle of an uphill must-win election season than the deadline for turning in petition signatures actually falling on Election Day. No doubt Republicans will claim they can fold the petition campaign into their GOTV program for the district, but the bottom line is that persecuting Priola for the wholly partisan offense of defecting from the Republican Party is of little to no interest to unaffiliated voters who decide Colorado elections. And once they start asking questions about why Priola left the Republican Party, things go downhill with swing voters pretty quickly.

The messaging coming soon to Adams County: vote for Joe O’Dea because he’s “not focused on political parties.”

Then sign up to recall Kevin Priola because…political parties!

It’s a great way to distract yourself from losing the elections that matter.

“Balance To Women’s Rights”: Joe O’Dea’s 9News Unraveling

UPDATE: But wait, there’s more! Because of course there’s more!

These are the actual words from actual Senate candidate Joe O’Dea when pressed about his own admission that he voted YES on Prop. 115 in 2020 (which would have banned abortion at 22 weeks):

“I didn’t write that bill.”

What? How is this at all relevant? It was a ballot measure that YOU said you voted for.



We’re still waiting for the feature story, but last night 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark posted a clip from his long-awaited interview of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea that brutally exposed O’Dea’s contradictions on key issues his campaign has tried to hard to outmaneuver: abortion rights, and running as a Republican in the era of Donald Trump.

Here’s the deal. I’m going to the Senate to negotiate a good bill that brings balance to women’s rights. [Pols emphasis]

Take a seat, young lady, while Joe O’Dea “balances” your rights for you.

Joe O’Dea didn’t just come up with impromptu the slogan “bring balance to women’s rights.” This was almost certainly the product of careful deliberation between Joe O’Dea’s campaign team, where after thorough consideration of the potential pros and cons beinging “balance to women’s rights” was agreed to be the safest path forward for a candidate who just burned himself badly on the issue abortion rights by admitting support for a 2020 abortion restriction ballot measure that Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected.

Unfortunately, Joe O’Dea’s senior staff is to the best of our knowledge comprised entirely of dudes.

The idea of Joe O’Dea mansplaining to the women voters of Colorado what exactly “balance” should consist of where it concerns their reproductive rights has left Democrats who have seen this interview quite giddy, since they’ve been trying to punch holes in the false narrative that O’Dea is a “pro-choice Republican” ever since O’Dea laid the claim. They couldn’t ask for a more damaging sound bite to accompany O’Dea’s pre-primary claim to be “personally very pro-life” with bringing “balance to women’s rights” in Mitch McConnell’s GOP-controlled Senate.

And if that wasn’t enough:

If you’re aware of how much legislation in the last two years had passed the Democratic-controlled U.S. House but then stalled out in the evenly divided Senate, especially considering O’Dea’s lip service to issues like marriage equality, this is almost as disqualifying for O’Dea as crowning himself the great “balancer” of women’s rights. Marriage equality, codifying abortion rights, voting rights, immigration reform–the list goes on and on. For O’Dea to say there’s nothing in the logjam of stalled legislation in the U.S. Senate he would support effectively negates his position on all of those issues.

And finally, O’Dea’s latest contortion on the question of supporting Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee in 2024:

In the video clip above O’Dea gets positively red-faced trying to wriggle out from this one– but after repeatedly stating that he would vote for Donald Trump if Trump wins the Republican nomination in 2024, O’Dea won’t say the words now to Kyle Clark.

After you’ve already said it, that’s the worst choice of all.

Conservatives frequently complain about Kyle Clark’s reporting, but in this case all Clark did was ask straightforward questions with logical follow-ups that took into account O’Dea’s prior statements on these issues. It’s remarkable how damaging that simple expository process can be for Republican candidates trying to overcome their intrinsically unpopular agenda.

Not only does the truth hurt, in the case of Republicans in 2022, nothing hurts more.

Republicans Giveth, But Not Nearly as Mucheth


The latest fundraising figures for state races were released earlier this week, and most of the news for Republicans was pretty grim.

Take a look at the cash-on-hand (COH) numbers for Republicans in the top four state races in 2018 compared to 2022:

These are not good numbers, but perhaps Colorado Republicans can feel a bit better knowing that donors are much less interested in giving money to Republican candidates everywhere in 2022. As POLITICO reports today:

The number of online donors to the Republican Party unexpectedly dropped in the first half of 2022, according to a POLITICO analysis of campaign finance data — one in a series of setbacks that have tempered expectations of a red wave in November.

Online fundraising usually ramps up dramatically and predictably over the course of an election cycle. But campaign finance data show that in the first half of this year, the number of people giving federal contributions to Republican candidates and committees through WinRed — the GOP’s widely used donation processing platform — fell to around 913,000 down from roughly 956,000 contributors during the six months prior.

The surprising dip illustrates broader fundraising difficulties that have plagued GOP candidates in key races across the country this summer, even amid hopes that the party could retake control of Congress. It reflects the party’s long-standing challenges in building donor lists to power its campaigns.

Heidi Ganahl, Lang Sias, and Pam Anderson are broketh.

Former President Donald Trump has been blamed by some Republicans for hoovering up many potential donors — Trump has raised more than $100 million online since leaving office — though POLITICO’s analysis suggests that only about 13 percent of online Republican donors have given only to Trump this cycle.

Still, Trump’s committees are sitting on tens of millions of dollars that aren’t likely to be spent helping other Republicans this fall.

Nationally, Senate Republicans are still fighting with each other; the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is running on fumes, and NRSC head Rick Scott is blaming Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for suggesting that Scott recruited a bunch of dolts as candidates in some of the most important pickup opportunities in the country.

So, About Those Nuclear Weapons Secrets Trump Was Hoarding…

Barb Kirkmeyer, Joe O’Dea, and Trump

When the Mar-a-Lago home of former President Donald Trump was raided by the FBI in early August, MAGA Republicans across the country were quick to jump to Trump’s defense. As more details began to emerge regarding the crimes that Trump and his cronies may have committed — including violations of the FREAKING ESPIONAGE ACT — some Republicans started to realize how silly they looked in falling over themselves to stand in front of the train barreling down on The Big Orange Guy.

While smarter Republicans gradually backed away from defending Trump, others dug in their heels. In Colorado, Republicans such as U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea quickly found themselves stuck inside a rhetorical box of their own making. O’Dea has called the raid on Mar-a-Lago a “political stunt” on at least two separate occasions, which was a weird thing to do for a guy who had been spending months trying to distance himself from prior comments supporting the former President.

And then there’s “Secession” Barb Kirkmeyer, the Republican candidate for Congress in CO-08. During a Republican event in Windsor in late August, Kirkmeyer promised to investigate both the FBI and the Justice Department to “hold them accountable” for, presumably, doing their jobs instead of letting Trump do whatever he wants.

As The Julesburg Advocate reported on Aug. 26:

Barb Kirkmeyer, who is running for the new Congressional District 8 seat [Kristi] Burton Brown predicts will be a Republican win in Congress, took aim at inflation, border security and offered a reminder of the country’s exit from Afghanistan. She has initially discussed, with potential House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, policy in the next session.

“We’ll bring in groups like the Department of Justice and the FBI and hold them accountable,” said Kirkmeyer, who is opposed by Democrat State Rep. Dr. Yadira Caraveo.

Now, the problem with calling the Mar-a-Lago raid a “political stunt” or pledging to investigate the FBI and the Justice Department for its actions is that these comments look and sound pretty ridiculous as more information emerges about what Trump was doing with all of these sensitive classified documents.

“We’ll bring in groups like the Department of Justice and the FBI and hold them accountable.”

     — Republican Barb Kirkmeyer (8/26/22)

As The Washington Post reports, Trump was hoarding documents that did, in fact, contain highly-sensitive information about nuclear weapons:

A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents who searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club last month, according to people familiar with the matter, underscoring concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about classified material stashed in the Florida property. [Pols emphasis]

Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them. Only the president, some members of his Cabinet or a near-Cabinet-level official could authorize other government officials to know details of these special-access programs, according to people familiar with the search, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive details of an ongoing investigation.

Documents about such highly classified operations require special clearances on a need-to-know basis, not just top-secret clearance. Some special-access programs can have as few as a couple dozen government personnel authorized to know of an operation’s existence. Records that deal with such programs are kept under lock and key, almost always in a secure compartmented information facility, with a designated control officer to keep careful tabs on their location.

In other words, documents that shouldn’t have been sitting in boxes in a basement closet at Mar-a-Lago. When The Washington Post first reported concerns about sensitive nuclear documents at Mar-a-Lago, Trump proclaimed the story to be a “hoax.”

Former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr has been unambiguous in defending the FBI and the Justice Department instead of backing up Trump’s misdirection. Yesterday was Barr’s second big appearance on Fox News in the last week:

As Steve Benen wrote on Tuesday for MSNBC:

The question for rank-and-file Republicans becomes obvious: If even Bill Barr recognizes the seriousness of the Mar-a-Lago scandal, why can’t they?

Andrew Desiderio and Nicholas Wu of POLITICO came to a similar conclusion:

In the days since the FBI search of Donald Trump’s home, GOP lawmakers and allies of the former president have offered increasingly strained responses when it comes to his possession of classified and top-secret documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

While the vast majority of Republicans leaped to defend Trump after the FBI executed a search warrant on his Florida residence, the rapidly unfolding investigation — including revelations that he refused to turn over sensitive and top-secret records — has left all but Trump’s staunchest allies tangled in knots. [Pols emphasis]

If the steady stream of bad news coming out of the Mar-a-Lago raid is any indication, this story is going to continue to get worse for Trump and MAGA Republicans like O’Dea and Kirkmeyer.

You’d think politicians would have learned by now that it’s not wise to go out on any limb in which Trump is already perched. O’Dea and Kirkmeyer may have to re-learn this lesson in November.

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To Hell With “State’s Rights” Say Buck, Lamborn

Rep. Ken Buck (top) and Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this summer overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling guaranteeing abortion rights in all fifty states, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado celebrated what he characterized as the restoration of state authority to regulate abortion as they saw fit:

The Supreme Court made the right decision in overturning Roe v. Wade, a tragic abortion mandate that has cost over 73 million unborn babies their lives. The power to decide this profound moral question has officially returned to the states, where it will be debated and settled in the way it should be in our democratic society—by the people.

In his statement the same day, Rep. Doug Lamborn likewise heralded the turn of the struggle over abortion rights “to the states.”

While today we are rejoicing, the fight now turns to the states where the American people must go on the offense for life.

But in the same press release where Lamborn said “the fight now returns to the states,” Lamborn contradicted himself by vowing to pursue further federal restrictions on abortion that would apply in all 50 states–no secret, but also making no sense right before celebrating the return of the fight “to the states.” And true to form, as the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler reports, both Lamborn and Buck have signed on to legislation severely restricting abortion rights at the federal level–demonstrating they were lying about wanting states to decide the question at all:

When the Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, which in 1973 established a nationwide right to an abortion, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion for Dobbs v. Jackson that the legality of abortion would now be up to individual states. “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” Alito said. “Roe and Casey [in 1992] arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

Many Republican foes of abortion celebrated the ruling as a victory for states’ rights. Yet since Alito’s draft opinion was leaked on May 2, 28 lawmakers have also signed onto a proposed nationwide ban — one that would impose abortion restrictions even in Democrat-led, pro-abortion rights states. [Pols emphasis]

This would seem to be a direct contradiction to the idea that states could chart their own course. Blue states that have less restrictive laws in place suddenly would find those laws overridden by a federal law.

Kessler reports that Rep. Ken Buck signed on as a co-sponsor of the so-called “Heartbeat Protection Act,” which would ban abortions if a “heartbeat” can be detected–an effective ban since this occurs before most people even know they’re pregnant–on May 27, after the Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe was leaked. Rep. Lamborn signed on as a co-sponsor on July 11th, after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe was published. In both cases they knew that this ruling was coming, and it makes it impossible for them to claim to support returning the question of abortion rights “to the states.”

Will this glaring contradiction hurt Buck or Lamborn in the state’s two safest Republican districts? Of course not. But for fellow Republican candidates like Joe O’Dea trying (and generally failing) to walk a tortuous fine line on an issue expected to turn out voters in force against anti-abortion politicians, Buck and Lamborn’s example is a reminder that there is no longer any tenable middle ground on the issue. With Republicans in control of Congress, this is the kind of legislation that will pass. And a Republican President will sign it.

These are not hypotheticals anymore. Those with nothing to lose have exposed those who do.

Hoping for Turnaround, O’Dea Gets More of a “Turn Away”

UPDATE: Filings from Senate Leadership Fund confirm the bad news for Joe O’Dea:


Joe O’Dea waits for someone to pay attention to him during event on the Western Slope last month.

Ballots will begin arriving in the mailboxes of Colorado voters in about six weeks. Little-known Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea is in desperate need of a cash infusion from national Republicans if he is going to get his name and face in front of enough voters in time to make a difference before voting begins.

From the look of things, that money may not be coming.

The Colorado Sun reported today on something we’ve been discussing for the last week in this space (HERE and HERE): All of the talk from national Republicans about how Colorado could have a competitive Senate race in 2022 hasn’t resulted in any significant spending thus far.

Just under $9 million worth of TV ads have aired or been booked in the Senate contest this year, according to a Colorado Sun analysis of contracts filed with the Federal Communications Commission through Wednesday.

That compares with the nearly $46 million worth of TV ads that had aired or were booked before Sept. 1 in Colorado’s 2020 Senate contest between Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic former Gov. John Hickenlooper.

O’Dea’s campaign has thus far been relying on its own meager fundraising for media buys, and sources tell us that his campaign is currently buying ad space on a week-to-week basis. It’s obviously more cost-effective to purchase TV ad time in advance, but only if you know that you’re going to have the money to pay for it. In recent weeks, O’Dea has been outspent by incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet by a 3-to-1 margin.

According to a new story from NBC News, national Republican groups are putting together sizable ad buys in a handful of states…none of which are in Colorado:

While the National Republican Senatorial Committee has enlisted former President Donald Trump to help reverse lagging fundraising, much — if not most — of the money will come from the Senate Leadership Fund to start. The group, aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, had already been on-air in Pennsylvania, and this week will begin to deploy the rest of a $169.2 million advertising plan across key states…

…At the moment, McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund seems the likelier bet for a bailout. Multiple sources who spoke with NBC News said they viewed that group, and not the National Republican Senatorial Committee, as the cavalry capable of financing the bulk of the fall push. The senatorial committee had just $23 million on hand at the end of July, according to its latest filing with the Federal Election commission, giving it far less capital than the Senate Leadership Fund.

The Senate Leadership Fund ad blitz that begins Tuesday includes $37.1 million in Georgia, $27.6 in North Carolina, $28 million in Ohio and $15 million in Nevada and Wisconsin. That’s atop an existing $34.1 million commitment in Pennsylvania. Overall, the group has reserved $169.2 million in ad spending for fall campaigns. [Pols emphasis]

O’Dea probably can’t expect much help from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC); under the leadership of Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott, the NRSC has pissed away 95% of the money it had raised — much of that on questionable online small donor fundraising schemes. The small amount ($241,000) that the NRSC spent on ads for O’Dea in August appears to have come from an NRSC legal fund, which is probably not…legal.


As The Colorado Sun reports, whatever money the NRSC does have does not appear to be earmarked for O’Dea. And despite Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s claim in July that he would be “all-in” for O’Dea in the fall, the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) remains frustratingly vague (for O’Dea, at least):

The NRSC spent $241,000 on cable TV in August with an ad linking Bennet to Democratic President Joe Biden. But NRSC and Senate Leadership Fund have yet to schedule TV time for the fall, which is a major indication the race isn’t a priority, as is the fact that national Democratic groups haven’t started spending in Colorado to shore up Bennet.

“It’s a race we’re keeping an eye on,” said Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund. “We continue to be impressed by the race Joe O’Dea is running in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]

In other words, Joe: You’re probably screwed. Again, Colorado voters will be marking their ballots in about six weeks. The NRSC and SLF are waiting to board a plane that is already pulling away from the gate.

Meanwhile, in something of a last-ditch effort to generate interest in Colorado, local Republicans are still promoting a poll that may or may not exist that allegedly shows O’Dea within striking distance of Bennet. These results would be completely at-odds with all of the known public polling in the race thus far, which is probably why Republicans literally won’t show it to any reputable news outlets (as the Sun reports today, they “asked the state party for a copy but did not receive one.”) If the local GOP really has poll results filled with good news for O’Dea and they are refusing to show anyone…well, let’s just say we’d be in completely uncharted territory at that point.

We’ll update this post if we get word that any of this might be changing. If we’re not updating within the next week or so, it will be time to stop looking.

The GMS Podcast: Dark Brandon’s MAGA Smackdown

Charles Ashby, sans beard

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss President Biden’s momentous speech last week calling out “MAGA Republicans” and what it means for the 2022 election in Colorado. We also update on the apparently very expensive recall effort against new Democratic State Sen. Kevin Priola; big new problems facing Republican State Sen. Dennis Hisey in El Paso County; and top GOP candidates who are scrubbing all mention of “abortion” from their campaign materials.

Our interview this week is with podcast favorite Charles Ashby of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, who stops by to update us on the always-weird Tina Peters saga, Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert’s Christian Nationalism, and the Western Slope perspective on the final stretch of the 2022 election.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at Or send emails to or

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Biden Delivers Powerful Speech as MAGA Republicans Freak Out

UPDATE: Greg Sargent of The Washington Post sums up the conundrum for “MAGA Republicans:

Republicans are in a rage over President Biden’s speech in Philadelphia, in which he flatly declared that the American democratic experiment is in serious danger due to Donald Trump and the Republicans who remain allied with his political project.

So here’s a question for those Republicans: What exactly in Biden’s speech was wrong?…

…That MAGA coup attempt included extraordinarily corrupt pressure on many government actors, including law enforcement, which flouted the rule of law on its face. It involved pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to violate his constitutional duty. Pence himself said he was being asked to betray basic tenets of constitutional democracy.

Many Republicans who are now professing outrage supported all that. A review of their own conduct proves Biden right.


“The MAGA Republicans believe that for them to succeed, everyone else has to fail.”

     — President Biden (9/1/22)

President Joe Biden delivered a powerful primetime speech on Thursday night from the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia that laid out in clear terms the battle for democracy in the United States.

As David Frum wrote later for The Atlantic, Biden’s speech was so effective because it was real:

The response from Biden’s Republican opponents has been hotter than mere tut-tutting. Biden’s sharp speech has only one justification: So much of it is true.

If you missed Biden’s 24-minute speech, you can read the full transcript here or watch it in full below. To better understand the significance of Thursday’s events — including here in Colorado — it helps to break things down into a few different parts. Let’s start with…



Biden’s remarks on Thursday were masterfully constructed. In plain language, he began by defining “MAGA Republicans” as people who were intent on destroying democracy. Biden did not resort to name-calling but stuck with facts instead:

And here, in my view, is what is true: [Pols emphasis] MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election, and they’re working right now as I speak in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself.

President Joe Biden

Biden then carefully explained that “MAGA Republicans” are a fringe minority in the United States, which had the effect of placing them in a rhetorical corner with the rest of the country on the other side:

But while the threat to American democracy is real, I want to say as clearly as we can, we are not powerless in the face of these threats. We are not bystanders in this ongoing attack on democracy. There are far more Americans, far more Americans from every background and belief, who reject the extreme MAGA ideology than those that accept it. [Pols emphasis] And folks, it’s within our power, it’s in our hands, yours and mine, to stop the assault on American democracy…

…MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live, not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies. But together, together, we can choose a different path. We can choose a better path forward to the future, a future of possibility, a future to build a dream and hope, and we’re on that path moving ahead.

Meanwhile, “MAGA Republicans” were busy identifying themselves and proving every one of Biden’s points.



O’Dea vs. O’Dea: Mixed Google Messages Aren’t Helping

With election season about to kick into its traditional high gear after Labor Day weekend, most voters’ first stop in researching the candidates they’re seeing in the news is to Google their names–maybe with an issue like “pro-life” appended to narrow the result.

If you search Google for “Joe O’Dea pro life,” you’re greeted with this ad from O’Dea’s campaign:

Another response some users are receiving tries to get a jab in about Michael Bennet’s recent ad depicting the Senator fly fishing, which makes absolutely no sense outside a small class of political insiders:

That’s just weird, folks. One in a hundred might get this joke.

Most users are seeing one of these paid advertisements, along with a few ads from Michael Bennet’s campaign explaining O’Dea’s stumbles on the issue of abortion– claiming to be “personally very pro-life,” supporting the Supreme Court picks who just overturned Roe v. Wade, and declaring his support for 2020’s Proposition 115 failed abortion restriction ballot measure. Both sides are spending to make sure their message is above the fold for search engine queries.

Unfortunately for O’Dea, here’s the very first non-paid search response:

This directs to a page from O’Dea’s primary campaign days, consisting a number of anti-abortion activists in Colorado essentially arguing that O’Dea will be better for the pro-life movement because he’s a more viable Republican candidate than Ron Hanks.

And also shoring up O’Dea’s anti-abortion bonafides:

Joe O’Dea strongly supports a nationwide ban on late-term abortion, a nationwide ban on taxpayer funding for abortion, a nationwide parental choice requirement, and will fight any attempt to make religious hospitals perform a procedure they object to. Joe is adamantly against Chuck Schumer’s late term abortion bill, and strongly opposes Jared Polis’ late-term abortion bill.

This week, a number of Republican candidates including Colorado’s Heidi Ganahl and Barb Kirkmeyer were caught deleting references to their formerly strident positions against abortion. O’Dea wasn’t one of them–but now you can see why the others started mashing the delete button after winning their primary. The gulf between Republican primary voters and the general electorate is so vast on this issue that it’s impossible to please one side without alienating the other.

When the average voter sees an ad for “pro-choice” Joe O’Dea followed by a bunch of ads calling O’Dea a liar and then a page from O’Dea’s own primary campaign that says the same, they’re going to realize something’s fishy–and it’s not the fish Bennet caught.


Big Government Is Not Taking Over Your Thermostat

Denver7’s Jaclyn Allen reports on a not-really new program from Xcel Energy designed to help cope with extremely high electrical consumption during hot summer days, which Tuesday was apparently engaged for the first time to the surprise of a number of homeowners who (sorry to say this) shouldn’t have been surprised:

Xcel confirmed to Contact Denver7 that 22,000 customers who had signed up for the Colorado AC Rewards program were locked out of their smart thermostats for hours on Tuesday.

“It’s a voluntary program. Let’s remember that this is something that customers choose to be a part of based on the incentives,” said Emmett Romine, vice president of customer solutions and innovation at Xcel. [Pols emphasis]

Customers receive a $100 credit for enrolling in the program and $25 annually, but Romine said customers also agree to give up some control to save energy and money and make the system more reliable.

“So, it helps everybody for people to participate in these programs. It is a bit uncomfortable for a short period of time, but it’s very, very helpful,” said Romine.

Many new homes built in Colorado today utilize a smart thermostat that both consumers and–if given permission by the consumer–utility companies can access to help manage power consumption during peak periods. This helps avoid the much less pleasant alternative of rolling blackouts when the power grid hits capacity. It’s also available to existing homeowners who upgrade to compatible smart thermostats.

And again, AC Rewards is a 100% voluntary and compensated program that no consumer is forced to participate in. But that’s not stopping Republicans like this Maryland congressional candidate from declaring an impending thermostatic dystopia and trying to turn this voluntary program into a stick to beat Colorado Democrats with:

Here in the reality-based community, we know that Democratic politicians aren’t trying to punish Coloradans with Xcel Energy’s energy efficiency programs any more than consumers are being forced to participate in them. That Tuesday was the first time the system was activated in this emergency capacity since it rolled out in 2019 shows how sparingly the smart thermostat’s emergency override is employed. Given a choice between limits on power in an emergency versus losing power entirely, it’s an easy choice. Or at least it should be.

If you’re determined to uncover a nefarious plot behind everything, that’s all you tend to find.

No, Everyone Does NOT “Shake The Etch-a-Sketch”

Barb Kirkmeyer (R).

9NEWS followed up last night on a story we wrote about Tuesday, originally reported by Politico, about Republican candidates quietly updating their websites to reduce or even completely remove references to abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s highly unpopular decision to repeal Roe v. Wade. The Colorado example cited by Politico was none other than Barb Kirkmeyer, the ardently anti-abortion state senator and Republican nominee for Colorado’s brand-new closely divided CD-8. After Kirkmeyer rushed to sponsor anti-abortion bills in the legislature this year and then campaigned proudly on her anti-choice record in the GOP CD-8 primary, Kirkmeyer’s retreat on the issue illustrates more than most Republicans just how scared they are of the coming “Roevember” backlash at the polls.

But when confronted about sanitizing her website of this hot-button issue, Kirkmeyer had an answer that could be considered epic–if by that you mean epically terrible:

“If you go back and look at everyone’s websites, not just mine, but you look at my opponents and other folks who are campaigning, there’s a campaign that happens in the primary,” she said. “And then things shift [Pols emphasis] and everybody goes back and revises their webpages and they focus in on the things that they are going to focus in on.”

The problem is, at least in the case of Kirkmeyer’s Democratic opponent Yadira Caraveo, that’s not true:

“Everyone makes changes [to their website]. My opponent made changes to her website… I didn’t notice anyone making comments about that,” she said.

A search of the Wayback Machine internet archive of Kirkmeyer’s opponent Yadira Caraveo’s website congressional website didn’t show any significant changes in policy positions. [Pols emphasis]

The simple reality is that there is no equivalent on the Democratic side to the “shift” on the issues that takes place with Republicans between a Republican primary and the general election. Here in Colorado, that’s in part because there weren’t a lot of Democratic primaries this year, but it’s also a reflection of the relative popularity of the Republican versus Democratic agendas. Republicans feel compelled to downplay views they were proud to express in their primary because the majority of voters in a general election find them repellent.

What’s the Democratic analogue? Universal health care? It doesn’t exist.

While Kirkmeyer was busy saying the same quiet part out loud that Mitt Romney’s spokesman let slip in 2012 with his now-infamous “shake the Etch-a-Sketch” analogy about Romney’s shifting positions from the primary to the general, Kirkmeyer received some less than helpful “backup” from Colorado Republican Party chair Kristi Burton Brown–who as readers know was the public face of the Personhood abortion ban ballot measures repeatedly rejected by Colorado voters in recent years.

Kristi Burton Brown, chairwoman of the Colorado Republican Party, told 9News all Republican candidates are firmly pro-life. [Pols emphasis]

“Our Republican candidates are very clear we’re the pro-life party,” she said.

Kirkmeyer says thanks, but Joe O’Dea would like a word. Urgently.

The lesson, once again because we’ve said it countless times before: don’t delete anything, because nothing is ever really deleted and it only draws attention to what you’re deleting.

As for an agenda that a majority of general election voters don’t want?

We’re not really sure how to help with that.