(Editor’s note: This is part of a series of guest columns by supporters of the various Colorado Republican hopefuls, making the case for their candidate for U.S. Senate in the 2022 November election. The case for Deborah Flora is here, for Gino Campana is here, for Greg Moore is here, and for Eli Bremer is here.)
If a dozen years as a Republican political strategist – including proudly serving as President Donald Trump’s Colorado state director – has taught me anything about campaigns, it’s that elections are won not by relying exclusively on the past, but by evolving to meet the challenges and political circumstances of the present.
Put another way, victory in politics is never a given based on what happened last decade, last election cycle or last year. Political winners weave together accomplishments, core principles, present-day policies and a lot of hard work to put them over the top in the single poll that matters: The one voters take on Election Day.
That’s why I’m all in for U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea in his campaign against Democrat Michael Bennet, who will be heavily supported by liberal special interests as they seek to retain their hold in the Senate.
Again, I believe that campaigns must balance the past and the present if they’re going to craft a path to victory. The reality is, Colorado has not gone Republican in a presidential election since 2004, when George W. Bush defeated John Kerry by about 100,000 votes. At present, the state’s governor, attorney general, secretary of state ant treasurer are all Democrats, as are both U.S. Senators. Voter registration statistics show that the state has 1,070,804 Democrats among its 3.72 million active voters balanced against 954,102 Republicans. Meanwhile, nearly 44 percent of the state’s voters – about 1.63 million people – have registered with no party affiliation.
At the end of the day, it’s those voters who will be mission critical if Republicans want to take out Michael Bennet and hamstring President Biden’s progressive agenda.
Joe O’Dea, the son of a Denver cop, a husband and father, is a small businessman and self-made entrepreneur. Joe started off working as a construction laborer, then rose through the business to become a union carpenter apprentice, then a journeyman carpenter. Today Joe owns Concrete Express Inc., a business he started when he was attending Colorado State University and that has grown to employ more than 300 people. Joe’s a common-sense Republican, someone who’s a Coloradan and American first and a partisan second. A realist who knows what it’s like to sign the front of a paycheck and the back, Joe has never run for office before. He’s running now because he wants to go to Washington to solve real problems, not spend his days frothing at the mouth over the latest political party blood feud.
In an election likely to be won not by appealing to partisans, but by winning over party-neutral voters, Joe O’Dea represents Republicans’ best chance to retire Michael Bennet.
Does my support of O’Dea represent some sort of buyer’s remorse over the hard work I did – and many conservatives did – on behalf of President Trump and Vice President Pence? Not in the slightest. President Trump remains for me one of this nation’s true patriots, a leader like no one else in the history of the GOP. The passage of his Tax Cuts and Jobs Act served as a kickstart to the country’s economy early in his term, leading to the creation of more than seven million jobs and sending unemployment to 3.5 percent, a half-century low. Under President Trump’s leadership, the bottom 50 percent of American households saw a 40 percent increase in net worth, while the elimination of the Obamacare individual mandate offered financial relief to low and middle-income households, who represented nearly 80 percent of the families who paid a heavy financial penalty for not wanting to purchase health insurance.
I remain proud of all those accomplishments, as well as the Trump-Pence response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Operation Warp Speed, the Administration’s historic push to develop and make available an effective vaccine in just a few months’ time – five times faster than any previous vaccine development effort in the history of our nation.
Rather than a repudiation of Trump Republicans, my goal is to attract every single conservative voter and Trump supporter to join me in rallying around Joe O’Dea – and to attract enough of the state’s 1.6 million independent voters at the same time to send Michael Bennet into retirement. Can that be done? Absolutely, provided that Republicans broaden our coalition by reaching out to more Coloradans who prioritize the same problem-solving approach Joe does: One that prioritizes fiscal discipline, a balanced budget, and a federal government that doesn’t spend its every waking moment creeping farther and deeper into our lives.
Joe O’Dea is right for Colorado at this moment in its history. He has the solid business credentials so many politicians lack, balanced with a compassionate heart, tough negotiating skills and Colorado common sense. Joe gets it: He understands how inflation is devouring families’ paychecks, how our communities are being overrun by crime and homelessness, and how the American Dream is premised on hard work, not government’s embrace of socialist dogma.
At a time when politics feels like a bloodsport, Joe O’Dea will go to Washington to engage in the right fight – the one waged on behalf of the American middle class, blue collar workers and Colorado families. When Joe wins this election, it will be a victory for people over party. And I intend to do everything in my power to make sure that happens.
Jefferson Thomas served as Trump State Director in 2020 and Political Director in 2016. He is currently a senior advisor to the O’Dea campaign.
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