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May 22, 2023 11:47 AM UTC

Will Joe O'Dea Ride His Horse to Weld County in 2024?

  • by: Colorado Pols
Joe O'Dea
Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea (second from left) poses for the camera last summer after riding his horse to a Centennial sushi joint.

Colorado Republicans apparently still think that it might be a good idea to get 2022 Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea to run for federal office again in 2024. That’s the very same Joe O’Dea who lost the 2022 U.S. Senate race to incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet by 15 points.

POLITICO reports (again) about a potential O’Dea reboot — this time for Congress in CO-08 against incumbent Democratic Rep. Yadira Caraveo –– as part of a story about possible 2024 candidates being spooked by Donald Trump’s likely presence on the ballot:

Less than a month after the midterms, Republican recruiters were already plotting how to persuade their prized 2022 Senate nominee to run for a Colorado congressional seat in 2024.

Joe O’Dea was popular, personally wealthy and had adopted the kind of moderate positions that would endear him to voters in a swing suburban district, perhaps more easily in a state that has quickly turned blue. He was — and still is — interested. But among his top considerations: what it would mean to share a ballot with Donald Trump, according to two people familiar with his thinking. [Pols emphasis]

Reporters Ally Mutnick and Holly Otterbein are perhaps not all that familiar with O’Dea and his 2022 Senate campaign, so we’ll offer some alternative perspective here:

Joe O’Dea was popular [and] personally wealthy…
O’Dea was certainly personally wealthy, which made him very popular with Republican consultants who were more than happy to milk his wealth for their own benefit. But O’Dea was absolutely NOT popular with the majority of Colorado voters, nor was he particularly well-liked among a GOP base in Colorado that felt he was too squishy for their tastes.

O’Dea…had adopted the kind of moderate positions that would endear him to voters in a swing suburban district…
Joe O’Dea lost by 15 points. He waffled more than Eggo, particularly on the key issue of abortion rights. He also seemed to get worse as a candidate the closer he got to Election Day. There is NOTHING that O’Dea showed in 2022 that would indicate voters would be happier with him in 2024.

He was — and still is — interested.
Why? Does he feel wistful about watching GOP consultants light his money on fire?

But among his top considerations: what it would mean to share a ballot with Donald Trump…
It would mean what it meant in 2022, only much, much worse.

Congresswoman Yadira Caraveo (D-Adams County)

This is a fairly obvious conclusion from our perspective. Nevertheless, here’s more from POLITICO on O’Dea’s apparent interest in running for Congress in CO-08:

Recruiters have urged O’Dea to consider a run against freshman Democratic Rep. Yadira Caraveo in a highly competitive district that Biden won by 5 points — an area far less blue than the state as a whole. But his stance on Trump and abortion rights could complicate O’Dea’s bid before he even faces a Democratic opponent, making it difficult for him to prevail in a GOP primary.

“Trump is obviously part of the conversation in a big way,” a person close to O’Dea said. “The question is: Does the party want to move on and win and govern or do they want to look backwards?”

His stance on Trump and abortion rights could complicate O’Dea’s bid…

Hmmm…yeah, that’s probably true given that WE SAW THIS EXACT SCENARIO PLAY OUT LAST NOVEMBER.

The fact that O’Dea’s name keeps coming up as a potential Caraveo challenger says less about O’Dea and more about the sorry state of Republican politics in Colorado. It is also a YUGE insult to Republicans in Adams and Weld County if GOP consultants think an awkward white dude who lives in Denver would be their best chance at unseating a Latina incumbent 45 minutes to the north.

The idea that O’Dea might be a good candidate for Congress in 2024 is based on the belief that O’Dea was a good candidate for U.S. Senate in 2022. Except…he wasn’t.

As Nathan Gonzales noted for Roll Call in January, the O’Dea narrative falls apart when confronted with, you know, evidence:

Did underwhelming nominees in key states torpedo GOP efforts to retake the Senate? Were Democratic incumbents as good as advertised? Vote Above Replacement (VAR) can help answer those questions…

VAR casts doubt on at least one consistent talking point from the 2022 Senate cycle. Joe O’Dea in Colorado and Tiffany Smiley in Washington were considered two of Republicans’ best Senate nominees anywhere in the country. According to the narrative, the duo were running strong campaigns that would help them transcend the partisan makeup of their states.

VAR tells a different story. Both O’Dea (-2.3) and Smiley (-0.9) posted negative VARs, which means they did worse than a typical GOP nominee in their respective states. 

O’Dea actually performed worse than Ohio Republican J.D. Vance (-1.6 VAR), who received plenty of criticism for his underwhelming general election campaign. [Pols emphasis] 

Beyond this reality is the Big Orange Guy himself. Trump is likely to be the Republican nominee for President in 2024, and Trump has already made it clear that he thinks O’Dea is a useless idiot. If O’Dea decides to seek the Republican nomination in CO-08, there’s virtually no chance that he will avoid a Republican challenge from his right flank because of Trump’s opposition and O’Dea’s own mangled position on abortion rights.

But sure: Go ahead and force a doofus from Denver upon Republicans in Weld County in 2024. Let #HorseSushi ride again!


9 thoughts on “Will Joe O’Dea Ride His Horse to Weld County in 2024?

  1. Alluded to in the diary, but maybe with not enough clear emphasis, is that O'Dea doesn't live in CD8 right now. So, I'm just emphasizing that O'Dea doesn't live in CD8 right now.

    It's legal to run for the U.S. House if you don't live in the district, but the title "carpetbagger" would be a tailor-made criticism to be used in opposition teevee ads.

    1. Greenwood Village is definitely not Denver.  Apparently, he's willing to move out of Crow's district.  Fine by me.  We need fewer of his ilk in my district. 

  2. He's more bored than interested. 

    Kirkmeyer is positioning herself to make another stab at it.  She was actually one of the more reasonable Republican members of the leg during this past session, something that was completely inconceivable just two years ago. 

    1. Plus, standing next to Lori Saine made Kirkmeyer look all the more reasonable. It's a small hurdle to clear.

      But another run will be Kirkmeyer's third try to go to DC. She ran against, and lost, to Ben Kuck in 2014.

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