NotedDC

NotedDC — Republicans pushing for an upset in Colorado

Sen. Michael Bennet and John O'Dea
AP images
Sen. Michael Bennet and John O’Dea

Joe O’Dea (R) may be a long-shot in his bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado this fall, but the race has taken on increased importance amid lagging numbers for several Senate GOP hopefuls in other races across the country.

A number of high-profile Republicans including former President George W. Bush are throwing their weight behind the political newcomer, hoping he can help the party carve a path to a Senate majority with just five weeks to go until the election.

Republicans have their work cut out for them.

While typically a more purple state, Colorado has trended blue in recent cycles. The state went to the Democratic nominee the past four presidential elections, including in 2020 when President Biden won with 55 percent of the vote to former President Trump‘s 42 percent. Major statewide offices are also held by Democrats.

“I think it’s very competitive going into October,” Dick Wadhams, a former Colorado GOP chair, told NotedDC. “I think this race is very winnable for [O’Dea].” 

For their part, Democrats have sought to paint the GOP businessman as a possible swing vote for Republicans in the upper chamber, helping them clinch the Senate majority and enact sweeping legislation.

“Joe O’Dea is running to give Mitch McConnell a [Senate] majority that would enact a national abortion ban, confirm right-wing judges and oppose common sense gun safety laws – and that it is why Colorado voters are going to reject him this November,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Patrick Burgwinkle said in a statement to The Hill. 

And when it comes to their campaign war chests, Bennet has the financial advantage over O’Dea in the final stretch.

“O’Dea is being outspent right now — there’s no doubt about it,” Wadhams said. 

Campaign finance records filed last month showed O’Dea ending the quarter with $840,988 cash on hand. Bennet’s report for the same time period hasn’t yet made it to the Federal Elections Commission‘s website, but Politico reported Tuesday, based on figures given to the outlet, that Bennet will have $4.5 million cash in his coffers for the reporting period. The most recent figures show O’Dea had raised $3.5 million, while Bennet had already topped $14.5 million months earlier.

Bush, the last Republican to win the presidential vote in Colorado in 2004, will be raising money for O’Dea’s campaign at an upcoming event in Texas. GOP political consultant Karl Rove and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) also have thrown their support behind him as a more mainstream Republican alternative to Trump’s MAGA wing of the party.

O’Dea notably is one of few Republicans running in the midterms who hasn’t sought out an endorsement from Trump, and O’Dea has publicly said he hopes that Trump won’t run in 2024.

Recent polls have shown Bennet with a healthy lead at around 10 percentage points ahead of O’Dea. Notably, there has been little movement on either side since Emerson College Polling/The Hill released results from a survey three weeks ago.

Read more on the race from The Hill’s Caroline Vakil.

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🍑 October surprise

The Georgia Senate race has been rocked by a bombshell report claiming GOP candidate and former football star Herschel Walker encouraged and paid for an ex-girlfriend to get an abortion in 2009.

  • The Daily Beast published the report on Monday evening, citing an abortion receipt from the clinic that the woman provided as well as a bank deposit receipt with an image of a signed check.
  • The Hill has not independently confirmed the report. Walker — who has campaigned as a staunch opponent of abortion — has vehemently denied the accusations and threatened to sue the Beast.

Sen. Raphael Warnock (Ga.), the Democratic incumbent who faces Walker on the November ballot, told reporters shortly after the story went live: “I’ll let the pundits decide how they think it will impact the race. But I have been consistent in my view that a patient’s room is too narrow and cramped for space for a woman and the government. My view on that has not changed.”

GOP RALLIES: Republicans have quickly offered support for Walker following the report, with the national party infrastructure vowing to press forward in the race.

  • “[Democrats] know they are on the verge of losing the Senate, and they know that Herschel Walker is winning,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said in a statement. “Herschel has denied these allegations and the NRSC and Republicans stand with him, and Georgians will stand with him too.”
  • “Georgia could decide the Senate majority, so desperate Democrats and liberal media have turned to anonymous sources and character assassination,” tweeted Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, promising the party would “continue to invest in the Senate race.”
  • Former President Trump claimed Walker “is being slandered and maligned by the Fake News Media and obviously, the Democrats,” adding, “Herschel has properly denied the charges against him, and I have no doubt he is correct.”

Takeaway: Five weeks out from Election Day, the party is tied to Walker and faces no other option but to stick it out with him for a chance to flip the Senate seat.

CURVEBALL: Walker’s social media influencer son, Christian, has unleashed a barrage of attacks on his father amid the past 24 hours of drama.

  • In one video posted Tuesday morning, the younger Walker confirmed his father’s handwriting on a greeting card the woman said she received from Walker after the alleged abortion.
  • “He has four kids, four different women, didn’t raise one of them. He was out having sex with other women,” Christian Walker said. “Everything has been a lie!” 

Herschel Walker hasn’t directly addressed his son’s claims, except to tweet: “I LOVE my son no matter what.”

>> What’s next? October surprises are nothing new. While the Walker report has been the most seismic so far—remember, it’s only Oct. 4—there’s been a steady drip of negative stories targeting other candidates.

A story broke this week claiming Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz had backed medical research that killed dogs, bunnies and other animals. And Oz’s opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), is being hit with an ad that retells the story of him pulling a gun on a neighborhood jogger who was Black.

🎤 Debate season heats up

Fall festivities and football may garner most of the attention in October, but it’s also officially debate season as control of Congress hangs in the balance.

  • Several of this year’s Senate debates will be hosted by The Hill’s parent company, Nexstar, and will air on local affiliates. C-SPAN also has a robust list of debates it will air nationally in the coming weeks.
  • Much of the focus has been on the handful of Senate races that could ultimately make or break President Biden’s agenda in the second half of his term.

A quick glance at the upcoming Senate debate schedule: 

ARIZONA: Thursday, Oct. 6

  • The only anticipated debate between Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly and GOP challenger Blake Masters will air on PBS stations and C-SPAN.

NORTH CAROLINA: Friday, Oct. 7

  • Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) and Democrat Cheri Beasley are battling for North Carolina’s open Senate seat. Their Raleigh debate will air on Spectrum News 1 and C-SPAN. 

OHIO: Monday, Oct. 10 and Monday, Oct. 17

  • Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Republican J.D. Vance will have in Cleveland the first of two debates in the tight race. It will air on Ohio Nexstar stations. Ryan and Vance will again face off in Youngstown in a debate hosted by WFMJ on local channels. 

WISCONSIN: Thursday, Oct. 13 

  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will debate at Marquette University airing statewide on TMJ4. 

GEORGIA: Friday, Oct. 14 

  • Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and GOP challenger Herschel Walker will face each other in Savannah. The Nexstar-hosted debate will air on WSAV-TV. 

FLORIDA: Tuesday, Oct. 18 

  • Incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio faces Democratic challenger Rep. Val Demings in a debate from Palm Beach State College that will air on WESH 2.

PENNSYLVANIA: Tuesday, Oct. 25 

  • Democratic Lt. Gov John Fetterman (D) and GOP celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz will debate in Harrisburg. Nexstar channels throughout the state will carry it.

BIDEN HITS FUNDRAISING CIRCUIT

President Biden will travel to New York and New Jersey later this week to fundraise for Democrats, including Senate Democrats’ campaign arm.

  • Biden will participate in a reception for the Democratic National Committee in Red Bank, N.J., on Thursday and will participate in a reception for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in New York City.
  • The trip — which includes a stop at IBM to tout his economic agenda — is slated for the day after Biden visits hurricane-battered southwest Florida to survey damage from Hurricane Ian and meet with residents and first responders.
  • On Wednesday evening after he returns from Florida, Biden is also scheduled to attend a Democratic Governors Association reception in D.C.

What to expect from Biden’s Florida trip: The president is slated to meet with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), but the White House is playing down the possibility of fireworks between the potential 2024 election rivals.

“There will be plenty of time to discuss differences between the president and the governor — now is not that time,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “This is going to be above politics.”

ONE NUMBER TO KNOW

397,000 

Florida homes and businesses still without power Tuesday — six days after Hurricane Ian made landfall in the Sunshine State.

Worth Noting

Presidential photographer Pete Souza, the man behind some of the most memorable images from the Obama administration, will hold an event this weekend highlighting his latest book, “The West Wing and Beyond: What I Saw Inside the Presidency.”

  • The event will take place this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Sixth & I. Tickets can be purchased here.  
  • The event is being billed as an in-person presentation with the photographer’s insight, followed by a Q&A session with a virtual option as well.

Stay with TheHill.com for the latest and recommend NotedDC to others: thehill.com/noted. See you tomorrow!

Tags Biden Colorado Senate race debate Dick Wadhams DSCC George W. Bush Herschel Walker Karl Rove Michael Bennet Michael Bennet midterms 2022 Mitch McConnell NRSC Raphael Warnock Senate elections
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