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February 07, 2024 01:58 PM UTC

Joe O'Dea in CO-08...Or Maybe O'Not

  • 3 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols
#HorseSushi

It has been rumored for more than a year that Greenwood Village Republican Joe O’Dea could be the GOP’s best hope at defeating incumbent Democratic Rep. Yadira Caraveo in CO-08, despite the fact that the failed 2022 U.S. Senate candidate doesn’t live anywhere near the district and has no logical connection to its voters.

As POLITICO reported in December 2022 — and again in May 2023 — top Republican strategists were trying to convince O’Dea to run for Congress in 2024 by pitching him on the idea that he performed fairly well within the boundaries of CO-08 (in 2022) while he was losing to incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet by 15 points. O’Dea was reportedly concerned in May 2023 about potentially sharing a ballot with Donald Trumpwho labeled O’Dea a “RINO” three weeks before Election Day. That concern has likely only intensified in the following months.

Despite all of this, we had consistently heard rumors in late 2023 that O’Dea was indeed gearing up for a CO-08 campaign and was even going to hire (again) GOP consultant Josh Penry, who notably did not get O’Dea elected to the U.S. Senate in 2022.

O’Dea still has $3.8 million in debt from his 2022 Senate campaign, but most of that is in the form of loans from the candidate. This may be a factor in his decision to run in CO-08 if O’Dea is reluctant to spend more of his own money on another campaign — which would almost certainly be necessary. There’s little chance O’Dea, as a multi-millionaire, will be able to convince donors to help him pay off that 2022 campaign debt (he loaned himself a total of $4,088,000 and has “repaid” himself just $228,000), so whatever he dumped into a campaign in CO-08 would also likely be lost money.

For whatever reason, rumors of a potential O’Dea candidacy in CO-08 have gone quiet lately. The timeline for this race suggests that O’Dea is now unlikely to run, especially because of the spotlight that CO-04 Republican candidate Lauren Boebert has created on the “carpetbagging” issue in northern Colorado.

Colorado Republicans are likely stuck with their current weak slate of candidates in CO-04:State Rep. Gabe “-ish” Evans and Weld County Commissioner Scott James. Neither candidate is raising much money, particularly compared to the fundraising haul of Caraveo. In the last fundraising quarter of 2023, Caraveo brought in $630,175, compared to $170,000 for Evans and a measly $41,000 for James. While O’Dea has no natural connections to CO-08, the theory was that he would at least be able to fund a serious campaign — unlike Evans and James.

It’s doubtful that O’Dea was scared off by the presence of Evans or James (or recent entry Janak Joshi). Perhaps he merely decided that it was too far of a distance to ride his horse to a sushi restaurant in CO-08.

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