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July 05, 2022 12:43 PM UTC

Don't Believe The Hype: O'Dea Is Damaged Goods Too

  • by: Colorado Pols
Joe O’Dea.

Last Tuesday’s victory in the Republican primary by candidates for U.S. Senate and governor openly backed by the party elite over their MAGA grassroots opponents has given rise to a media narrative that money spent by Democratic-aligned interests to promote underfunded grassroots Republican candidates was a strategic failure. But the truth is that irrespective of the outcome, the campaign to publicize candidates who were much closer to the Republican base ideologically had a very important secondary objective: to force whoever won the primary to embrace far-right positions and allies that would become toxic in the general election.

In the case of gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl, the lurch to the right in order to counter a candidate who should never have been competitive, Greg Lopez, resulted in Ganahl branding herself as the “MAGA Candidate Colorado Has Been Waiting For”–which sounded great until June 29th, after which it became an albatross around Ganahl’s neck for the general election in blue-leaning Colorado. Ganahl’s last-minute media tour to far-right national figures like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, as crucial as it may have been to hold off Lopez, was just another in a series of concessions Ganahl had to make to the Republican base that left her even more damaged going into the general election than her double-digit poll deficit suggests.

Despite an intense PR campaign to cast these wins as victories for “moderation,” U.S. Senate nominee Joe O’Dea just like Ganahl was forced by his conservative opponent to demonstrate hard-right credentials on a variety of issues–primary grandstands he is certain to regret in the general election. As one example, Markian Hawryluk of Kaiser Health News reports today on Colorado’s “red flag” gun safety law, creating a court process to temporarily remove guns from people at risk of hurting themselves or others. Public support for red flag laws exceeds 80% according to most polls, and incentives for states to pass such laws were a major part of the bipartisan gun control deal just passed by Congress.

The Uvalde, Texas, school shooting prompted a bipartisan gun control agreement in Congress that could provide funding to encourage more states to pass red-flag laws. But in response to conservative objections, the bill Congress passed included funding for crisis intervention to states whether or not they establish red-flag laws.

Similar opposition was seen in Colorado, where Dolores County and at least 36 other counties declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries” after the red-flag law was introduced.

But 2½ years later, those declarations appear to have had little effect on whether protection orders based on the law are filed or enforced. Petitions for protection orders have been filed in 20 of the 37 sanctuary counties, often by the very sheriffs who had previously denounced the law, [Pols emphasis] according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of the petitions obtained through county-by-county public records requests.

But on June 24th, four days before the primary, O’Dea was asked about the bipartisan federal gun bill and about “red flag” laws in general. Responding to host George Brauchler, O’Dea freely placed himself on the wrong side of this overwhelmingly one-sided issue so as not to offend Colorado’s famously backstabby gun lobby:

BRAUCHLER: When you look at things like what just took place yesterday, not just with the Supreme Court decision, but with the bipartisan bill, and I think it passed out of the Senate, 65, not 35, but like 34. You know, someone doesn’t vote. When you look at that stuff and you say, if I’m already Senator Joe O’Dea from Colorado, how do you become part of that conversation? Do you support the bill that passed? Do you insist on different changes? Do you say, hey, I’m opposed to it?

O’DEA: Yeah. I couldn’t have signed on to that bill. You know, we don’t need a whole bunch more laws here that we can’t enforce. We already got a red, red flag law here in Colorado. It doesn’t work. Sheriffs will — they don’t think it works. [Pols emphasis] You know, but the conversation that they’re having is encouraging. I like with Ted Cruz is proposing, Safe Kids, Safe Schools, Safe Communities Act. You know, he wants to fortify our schools, and make sure these kids are protected. I like that conversation. And then the one that, you know, we continually need to be having here is the mental health. We’ve got to do more for mental health. That’s where this starts. And so I wouldn’t have signed on for that bill. But, you know, I’d be talking with Ted right now and see if we could push his bill forward…

Here is O’Dea not just trashing a law supported by over 80% of the public including a majority of Republicans, but invoking law enforcement who increasingly aren’t backing him up. In the first year of the law on the books, 85% of red flag court filings in Colorado were in fact initiated by law enforcement. Quite the opposite of saying the law doesn’t work, a growing number of the law’s former critics in law enforcement are using it as a tool to save lives.

Not to mention that when you’re hiding behind Ted Cruz for any reason, a majority of Americans are not with you.

This all would have gone very differently had O’Dea faced no or only token primary opposition. Both Ganahl and O’Dea prevailed over what should have been noncontenders by less than 55% of the vote with the final tally in, and only after setting themselves up for either shameless backpedal or disaster in the general election.

The conventional wisdom is that Republicans cheated fate a week ago, but the relief may only be temporary. The last laugh will be in November, and it’s the only one that counts.


14 thoughts on “Don’t Believe The Hype: O’Dea Is Damaged Goods Too

      1. Who was the fellow from Grand Junction who was supposed to be the next big thing in Republican leadership and ended up as a lobbyist for Oil and Gas? 

    1. I’m hoping Kirkmeyer joins the club.  She should be in over her head in a race in an evenly divided district especially where the majority doesn’t like RED meat.

  1. Ted Cruz

    Joe O'Dea may want to talk with Ted to get some fashion, hair & beard tips.

    I'm pretty certain that talking to Cruz about legislation is almost a waste of time — Cruz has had two sponsored bills passed — one in 113th Session, one in 115th Session.  [we're now 3/4th through 117th session]

  2. Not expecting this out of Brauchler, but what would it take to get reputable media to push back harder on the notion that US violence problems are not just "the mental health?" A few things I'd suggest – a) those suffering from mental health problems are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, b) women can have mental health problems but perpetrators of mass shootings are overwhelmingly male, c) there might be a shortage of mental health facilities and staff but they exist in substantial numbers, d) it's not always blatantly obvious that a person has a mental health issue, e) people who suspect someone has a mental health issue don't always initiate seeking help, f) there are countless types of mental health issues that don't necessarily suggest a likelihood of violence, and g) a person who has a mental health issue and suggests they're going to commit acts of violence probably ought to receive a red flag order plus help with their disorder. Things of that nature.

    1. 2J2d, I think it would take a public pressure campaign to get mainstream media to interview reputable mental health professionals, instead of just politicians who know how to say the words “ mental health” as a diversion to avoid stricter gun laws.

       All the issues you list are quite factual and need to be considered when politicians are posturing about how paying attention to mental health will prevent mass shootings.but they are also the nuanced conversations that politicians don’t really like to have. Mental health care also has to be considered on the hierarchy of needs, where basic food and shelter come first. At least that’s what other countries experience has been – providing free shelter even to the mentally ill, has been a game changer in terms of preventing their victimization or becoming perpetrators of violence. From Commonwealth Fund atudy:

      Nearly half (45%) of U.S. adults who reported experiencing emotional distress also reported being concerned about neighborhood safety or having enough money for housing or food. In contrast, only 16 percent to 19 percent of adults reporting emotional distress in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany reported unmet social and economic needs. This suggests that unmet social needs in the U.S. may be more prevalent than in other high-income countries, potentially contributing to the experience of emotional distress.

      And since expanding public access to mental health or social services is the last thing most republican politicians want to do, part of the solution is certainly making sure that policy is directed by Democrats, who are in the majority and control the conversation. Media will follow the leaders- if leaders talk about mental health and violence realistically and as part of a big picture, then media will, too.


      1. Good, let's start that public pressure campaign. I get that journos are overworked, but it's a real disservice to let a pol just say "we need the mental health" and leave it at that. 2-3 good followups might show that the pol has next to no clue what they're talking about, and might make it a little tougher for the next pol to weasel out of tough questions about our horribly serious problem with gun violence.

        And for all the journos undoubtedly reading, do the same with "red flag doesn't work" because you're getting fed grade A horseshit.

  3. GG, you’re thinking of Josh Penry, who was the next wonder boy of the GOP and ran for guv for a while in the Scooter McInnis-Dan Maes clusterfuck of a primary. Josh’s first marriage was on the verge of a very messy break-up and he  ended up bailing. He ended up with the oily boys, and also does political consulting. I heard, but do not know for a fact, that O’Day is one of his clients.

    1. Many thanks for the sharp memory westslope.  Josh is a poster boy for what the Republican Party has become.  Washed up and living on handouts.

  4. O’Dea is that boss you hated; the one who presents to the world as one heckuva nice guy, but plays favorites, hates unions and doesn’t give a crap about worker safety.

    If Bennet ( or PACS working to support Bennet) promote the “bad boss“ narrative about O’Dea, it will go a long way to ensuring Dems keep that Senate seat.

    1. You had better hope that the same inside-the-beltway DSCC idiots who managed Mark Udall in 2014; as "Senator Uterus;" don't come anywhere near the Bennet campaign.

  5. O'Dea may not be a Ron Hanks, or a Greg Lopez, or a Daryl Glenn, or a Tim Neville, or a Lauren Bobert, or a Tina Peters type of Republican. He may even he may be relatively moderate compared to most Republicans today.

    But there remains one and only one reason to vote for Michael Bennet which supersedes all other considerations – O'Dea is a vote to restore Mitch McConnell as majority leader.

    End of discussion. 

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