FIRST ON FOX: Republican Joe O’Dea says if elected to the Senate, his top priorities would be cut the federal bureaucracy, beef up the U.S.-Mexico border, tackle crime, and “restore energy dominance in the United States.”
Colorado’s GOP Senate nominee — who’s challenging Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in a race that’s become increasingly competitive this summer and could become one of a handful that determines if Republicans win back the chamber’s majority — on Tuesday unveiled the policy agenda he’d work to implement if he upsets Bennet in November’s midterm elections.
“We should do in the first month or two what politicians like Michael Bennet talk about and never do: reform spending, secure the border with more border agents and a wall, fix the immigration system, and restore safety in our cities by getting resources to our sheriffs and police chiefs to hire more cops and pay them better,” O’Dea said in a policy proposal shared first with Fox News.
O’Dea, the owner of a Denver-based construction company, stressed in an accompanying interview that “the first thing we got to do here is secure the American southern border.”
“We got millions coming across every year now. It’s time to secure that border,” O’Dea noted. “Fentanyl at an all-time high. We’ve got cartels, human trafficking, these cartels are up in our neighborhoods right now. And generally, it’s just not safe in our cities.”
As part of his plan, O’Dea said in his first bill in the Senate he’d push to get “rid of new programs, new spending and new bureaucracy from [President] Biden and the Democrats. I would then use those cuts to drive down the deficit.”
“The American people have watched in disgust while both parties have run up the debt over the last 25 years, and in a closely divided Senate, I’ll use my leverage to force change,” O’Dea said.
“The other part is re-prioritizing federal spending. We should zero-out the 87,000 new IRS agents and cut the federal bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., and make a massive investment in border security — including a border wall and hiring more police to protect our neighborhoods and schools instead,” he added.
But on the combustible issue of immigration, O’Dea would break with hard-right conservatives and said he’d work with Senate Democrats to give Dreamers “full legal status.” Dreamers — the thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents — were granted legal protections through the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“Those kids belong here. They’re Americans…. so they should get citizenship,” O’Dea said. “We should also really take a look at our immigration processes in general and clean those up so good people that are working here that are legal…can get through our process.”
O’Dea highlighted that “my second bill would center on making America energy dominant. Let’s unleash American innovation and modernize permitting so we can modernize our grid and bring more clean energy online like wind, solar and nuclear. Let’s also get pipelines moving. Let’s get natural gas permits on the Western Slope and across the United States, along with LNG terminal permits, in the review process and approved and open new markets for our natural gas in Europe and Asia.”
O’Dea suggest that “by flooding the European and Asian markets with clean American natural gas, we can bring down emissions worldwide. American energy leadership is good for the world. Let’s throw the door open to an American energy revival that’s so bold that it drives a stake in the heart of this inflation crisis and sends a message to Vladimir Putin and the Russians: the world doesn’t need your energy anymore.”
“That’s a statement for the world,” O’Dea added. “The other thing it does is it creates good American jobs here to add to our economy.”
And he argued that “this is a bill that we don’t need to spend a lot of money on. This is a bill that just streamlines the processes that are choking energy here in the United States.”
Once a battleground state, Colorado has leaned blue for nearly two decades and Biden captured the state by 13 points in the 2020 presidential election. But following O’Dea’s victory in the late June GOP primary, Republicans have become increasingly optimistic that they can flip Bennet’s seat from blue to red.
The Cook Report, a top nonpartisan political handicapper, last month moved its rating of the Senate race in Colorado from Likely Democrat to Lean Democrat. And the Fox News Power Rankings also rate the race as Lean Democrat, which is one step from toss-up.
During the GOP Senate primary, pro-Democratic groups — meddling in the Republican contest — spent big bucks to beef up the conservative credentials of Republican rival Ron Hanks and framed O’Dea as a moderate. Democrats viewed Hanks — who attended then-President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021, in the nation’s capital ahead of the storming of the U.S. Capitol, and who took a hardline against legalized abortion — as the weaker general election candidate.
But O’Dea won the primary, and now Democrats are trying to portray him as a far-right conservative.
“They didn’t help themselves,” O’Dea said of the Democratic “shenanigans… People see through that. The Colorado electorate here is pretty dang smart.”
O’Dea emphasized that “I’m running on the issues that are important to working Americans here in Colorado. It’s inflation, price of gas, price of groceries, record crime here in our state… And those are the issues I’m talking about. All this other nonsense with the Democratic Party, disingenuous ads, trying to paint me as something I’m not — I mean, it wasn’t but a couple of months ago I was moderate and now I’m MAGA man. It’s unbelievable. These guys will do anything to stay in power.”
Bennet’s campaign last month launched an ad blasting O’Dea over abortion, an issue that’s energized many Democrats in Colorado and across the country following the late June blockbuster move by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to overturn the landmark nearly half century old Roe v. Wade ruling and return the issue of legalized abortion back to the states.
“Michael Bennet has always fought for a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, but Joe O’Dea opposes the law protecting abortion access in Colorado,” one Coloradan said in Bennet’s ad. “O’Dea would have voted to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade,” another person added.
But O’Dea told Fox News “it’s just not true.” And he repeated his position that he opposes late-term abortions but believes that early in a pregnancy, a woman’s decision to terminate should be “between her, her doctor, and her God.” He said he also opposed the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling.