Moderate Colorado businessman Joe O’Dea defeated state Rep. Ron Hanks in the GOP Senate primary Tuesday, dashing the hopes of Democrats who had tried to boost Hanks in the hope he’d be more easily be picked off in November.
O’Dea took 57% of the vote, while Hanks garnered 43% at the time the Associated Press called the race.
The Rocky Mountain State is serving as a testing ground for Democrats’ unorthodox strategy of pushing conservative and far-right Republican primary candidates that they believe would repulse moderate or independent voters and stem forecasted losses for the party in the midterm elections.
The Democratic Colorado Super PAC has dropped at least $2.5 million on the GOP Senate primary, airing ads designed to promote Hanks’ candidacy by calling him “too conservative for Colorado,” highlighting his positions on abortion and whether Joe Biden won the 2020 election.
Hanks, who said he marched to the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but did not enter the building during the riot, said O’Dea’s views do not align with those of most Republican primary voters.
“His policy positions would put him to the left of Mitt Romney,” Hanks told the Associated Press in an interview. “The message is not Republican, it’s not conservative, it’s not pro-life.”
O’Dea has said he backs a ban on both late-term abortions and government funding of abortions. But he’s also said the decision to terminate an early-term pregnancy is “between a person and their God.”
Colorado has voted down initiatives to limit or ban abortion four times since 2008. Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who O’Dea will face in November, used the issue to great effect in his 2010 Senate campaign win over Republican Ken Buck and GOPers fear a reprise if Hanks wins the primary.
If O’Dea unseats Bennet in the fall, he would join Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska as the only Republican senators who publicly support Roe v. Wade, which was overturned by the Supreme Court last week.
A political novice, O’Dea has donated to both Democrats and Republicans in the past and gave $500 to Bennet in 2010. But he also says he voted for Donald Trump twice and supported the 45th president’s nominees to the Supreme Court — all three of whom backed overturning Roe — and saw no contradiction between that and his views on abortion.
“I’m not running on social issues,” O’Dea said, “and people aren’t talking about social issues, except reporters and Ron Hanks.”
In the GOP gubernatorial primary, businesswoman Heidi Ganahl, elected member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, topped foe Greg Lopez.
With Post wires