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May 18, 2022 11:08 AM UTC

The Half-Hearted Effort to Prop Up Joe O'Dea

  • by: Colorado Pols
We’re gonna need a whole case of this.

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 Hiedi Heidi 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.


4 thoughts on “The Half-Hearted Effort to Prop Up Joe O’Dea

  1. Going on June and Joe's name recognition for a high-profile statewide race just can't be that good. Though I guess being able to say "inflation bad" oughta put him in line to become one of 100 members of the greatest deliberative body on earth. Or something. No more of Wayne's Mountain-Dew-addled wretching for me, thanks.

  2. "Bennet attended “elite schools” while O’Dea went to Colorado State University."  [nice recommendation for Colorado State University, right?]

    Perhaps I've missed it … but wasn't Ron Hanks busy in the military and oil fields and not going to a University at all?  Wouldn't that be the bigger contrast to Bennet?

    1. Loren “Ron” Hanks grew up in the wine making  counties of Northern California and went straight into the military. When he returned, he worked in the family landscaping business, then rejoined for another tour. 
      After losing his 2010 run for CA Congress, he moved to Colorado, reinvented himself as “Ragin’ Ron” Hanks, and has proceeded to threaten his fellow Republicans. Literally. 

      So yeah, bit of a contrast with civil, predictable Democrat Senator Bennet.

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