Trump attacks Colorado GOP Senate candidate O’Dea

Andrew Kenney/CPR News
GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea declares victory at his primary election night party, June 28, 2022.

Former president Donald Trump lashed out against GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea on Monday.

Trump called O’Dea a “RINO,” a Republican in name only —  a derogatory phrase used by conservatives to describe more moderate party members. The presumptive GOP front-runner for the 2024 presidential nomination said O’Dea “is having a good old time saying he wants to ‘distance’ himself from President Trump, and other slightly nasty things.”

“MAGA doesn’t Vote for stupid people with big mouths. Good luck Joe,” Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social. 

Trump’s criticism comes a day after O’Dea went on CNN and said he would “actively campaign against Donald Trump,” pointing to a number of other would-be candidates waiting in the wings, from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.

O’Dea took the attack in stride. 

“I’m a construction guy not a politician. President Trump is entitled to his opinion, but I’m my own man and I’ll call it like I see it,” he said in a statement, adding the midterm elections should be focused on “Joe Biden’s failures” and not 2020.

Trump lost Colorado by more than 13 points in 2020 

Trump’s performance in the previous election likely means his lack of support may not hurt O’Dea with moderate voters. Most polls show Bennet leading the race.

Still, Trump’s message to his base comes after O’Dea’s primary challenger, Ron Hanks, endorsed Libertarian candidate Brian Peotter over O’Dea earlier this month.

Hanks said he would have endorsed a “real Republican” if there was one on the ballot. 

“There is only a fake Republican, a pay-to-play opportunist with no conservative values or agenda,” Hanks said in a statement. “Let the COGOP know we will have a party conservative principles, not squishy candidates.”

A source close to the O’Dea campaign noted that public polling shows O’Dea has “overwhelming support” among all Colorado Republicans, who “want to hold Democrats accountable for the mess they’ve made.” 

The person added that while O’Dea supports abortion rights and same sex marriage “his economic and domestic agenda is conservative — open up all forms of energy, more cops, crack down on crime, secure the border.”

Unlike many other Republican Senate challengers, O’Dea has embraced some moderate positions and has tried to distance himself from Trump. 

The Colorado GOP did not comment on Trump’s attack on O’Dea. But executive director Joe Jackson said he’s not concerned that it will have a negative impact on Republican voter turnout at the ballot box in November.

“Republican and Unaffiliated voters across the state are energized to deliver a referendum on Biden's first two years as president by rejecting these Biden Democrats,” he said in a statement.