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FIRST ON FOX: With less than a week to go until primary day in Colorado, Joe O’Dea wants to make sure that Republican voters know he’s not a politician, but that his rival Ron Hanks is.
O’Dea, a first-time candidate and the owner of Concrete Express, a Denver-based construction company that employs more than 300 people, and Hanks — a military veteran and a state lawmaker — will face off on Tuesday. The winner will challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in November’s midterm election, in a race that the GOP increasingly thinks it has a chance of winning in a state that’s leaned blue for nearly two decades.
“Joe O’Dea. A construction CEO. Not a politician. Joe O’Dea will take the fight to Biden. Ron Hanks – he’s a politician. Since running for office in California, he’s flip-flopped all over,” the narrator in O’Dea’s new ad blitz charges.
O’Dea’s campaign says that the spot, shared first with Fox News on Wednesday, will run for three to four days on TV, digital, and radio, and is backed by a $300,000 ad buy.
Hanks won the top line designation in the Republican primary ballot in April at the state GOP’s state assembly in Colorado Springs. But the state party did not make an endorsement in the race. Five other Senate candidates who were running for the Republican nomination were eliminated at the party gathering. O’Dea landed his name on the primary ballot by getting at least 1,500 valid signatures from each of Colorado’s eight congressional districts.
Hanks and O’Dea faced off in a debate on Monday night. Hanks, who supports former President Donald Trump’s unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” due to “massive voter fraud and irregularities,” wouldn’t commit to accepting the results of next week’s primary.
Hanks, who attended the Jan. 6, 2021 Trump rally in the nation’s capital ahead of the storming of the U.S. Capitol, said during the debate hosted by the Colorado Sun and CBS4 that “we obviously have to see what we will see here.”
O’Dea, who doesn’t challenge President Biden’s electoral victory over Trump, said he would accept the primary results.
“I’ve been very clear about my stance,” O’Dea noted. “Biden’s our president. He’s lousy.”
Ahead of the debate Hanks, who’s said he opposes all abortions, reiterated in a tweet that he’s a “state legislator with a Pro-Life and pro-2nd Amendment record.”
But when asked about his abortion stance during the debate, Hanks said “we need to have more discussion on it… we will talk about it more. I’m happy to talk about it more.”
Following the showdown, O’Dea took to twitter to charge that Hanks had “Flip flopped on abortion (again).”
O’Dea has spent roughly $1.5 million to run ads during the primaries, while Hanks — who’s raised less than $90,000 for his entire campaign and had around $20,000 cash on hand entering the final weeks leading up to the primary — has yet to go up with TV ads.
But Hanks is getting plenty of help from Democratic Colorado, a pro-Democrat super PAC that’s spent over $3 million to run ads meddling in the GOP Senate primary.
Democrats view Hanks as a weaker general election challenger than O’Dea to take on Bennett, who’s never topped 50% of the vote in his 2010 and 2016 Senate victories. And Democratic Colorado’s ads beef up Hanks’ conservative credentials.
The super PAC, which was created late in the process and won’t have to reveal its donors until after the primary, has remained quiet on who’s funding its operations. And Senate Majority PAC — the top outside group supporting Senate Democrats, which is aligned with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) — has remained tightlipped.
Hanks is also indirectly getting support from recent mailers that incorrectly claim he’s endorsed by the Colorado GOP. The state Republican Party called the mailers “verifiably false and malicious” and “criminal.” The mailers are also anonymous, breaking election laws that require the naming of the groups that pay for campaign mailers.
O’Dea’s team — along with the Colorado GOP and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) — filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and in civil court, charging “flagrant” violations of campaign law.