Where is John Odom?

Jefferson County Commissioner John Odom has been invisible on the campaign trail this year, raising pittance for his re-election bid and spending little of the $20,000 he loaned his own campaign. And, aside from the spirited introduction he gave to Mitt Romney when the Republican swung by Jefferson County in early August, Odom hasn’t done much in line with traditional political strategy: No speeches, no fundraisers, and no field effort to speak of.

Even when given a free opportunity to define his candidacy and connect with voters, Odom couldn’t find the time.

From the Columbine Courier:

The economy and the climate for Jeffco businesses were discussed by 11 political hopefuls from across the county last Friday morning at a candidates forum sponsored by the Jefferson County Economic Development Corp.

The forum, at the Holiday Inn at Wadsworth Boulevard and U.S. 285, was attended by about 50 people.

As might be expected, the discussion focused largely on what the candidates have accomplished in the business world and how much they are committed to improving conditions in the business sector.

John Odom, who is running for Jefferson County commissioner in District 2, was not able to attend, but he sent a stand-in [Pols Emphasis], Ben Engen, who described himself as a friend who was also on the vacancy committee that interviewed Odom for the commissioner vacancy after Kevin McCasky resigned to become president of the EDC.

A Jefferson County native, Odom is a businessman who years ago opened a coffee shop in China and has high regard for personal property rights, his stand-in said [Pols Emphasis]. Odom believes that what sets America apart are its strong legal protections for property and contracts, he said. “Here’s a man who says your property should be yours to develop as you see fit.”

He described Odom as a business booster who once purchased airtime at a charity auction and used it to run an advertising campaign encouraging businesses to move to Jefferson County. “That’s the kind of guy John is, always looking for creative ways to improve life in Jefferson County.”

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with candidates occasionally sending surrogates to public events — sometimes day-to-day life gets in the way of campaigning. With Odom, though, sending a Republican operative to this particular community forum is endemic of a larger problem with his strategy: Nobody has seen or heard from him in months. This would’ve been the perfect opportunity for Odom to discuss his diverse experience in the business world. If John Odom has such a high regard for property rights, why couldn’t he show up to a forum to discuss that regard?

In a campaign, it’s not good enough to have a few friends awkwardly telling voters what “kind of guy you are” or discussing your beliefs. You have to show them yourself.

John Odom has run his entire election bid thus far assuming that, because he’s an incumbent Republican, he doesn’t have to work very hard to win another term.

Although Democratic challenger Casey Tighe has been doing a remarkable job for a first-time candidate — he has the wherewithal to attend community events, after all — it’s an unfortunate reality that Odom might just be right.  

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