As election nears, Michael Bennet and Joe O’Dea tour the Front Range hoping to woo last-minute voters

Caitlyn Kim/CPR News
Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea makes a final pitch to voters at an event in Fort Collins on Saturday, Nov 5, 2022.

Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Joe O’Dea roamed up and down the Front Range this weekend making their final pitches to voters before Election Day on Tuesday.

As they hit various spots, with other candidates on the ballot in tow, they tried to build important last-minute momentum.

In Fort Collins, first-time candidate O’Dea focused his final message on rising costs and argued the election should be a referendum on President Joe Biden and incumbent Sen. Bennet. 

He urged the crowd of over a dozen supporters to call their family and friends: “I want you to ask them a question. I want you to say: ‘how do you like the last 22 months?’”

O’Dea kept linking the high rates of inflation to the American Rescue Plan passed in early 2021. While government spending led, in part, to high inflation, the problem also has global roots in supply chain issues and increased demand as the pandemic continued. It was also fueled by the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Caitlyn Kim/CPR News
Republican challenger Joe O'Dea makes a final pitch to voters in Fort Collins on Saturday, Nov 5, focused on the economy and Joe Biden.

Still, O’Dea said voters have another option: “It starts with an R. It’s a Republican. We’re going to take back this government.”

Barbara Shaw, a Republican retiree who was at a campaign event in Greeley, said her top concern is inflation and how it's eating into her and her husband’s retirement savings. She said her support for O’Dea stemmed from his background. “The fact that he has been a long-time Coloradan, that he’s a self-made man — he understands the importance of running a business and he’s done so successfully.”

At an event of his own in Greeley on Sunday, Bennet’s message focused on his accomplishments over the last two years, including the bipartisan infrastructure bill, bringing semiconductor manufacturing back to the U.S., and his work to reduce income inequality and childhood poverty.

It was a message that resonated with unaffiliated voter Timothy Bowie, who had been undecided. In the end, he said he liked Bennet’s “take on the issues that I’m passionate about as far as poverty and saving our children [goes]. And the fact that he’s willing to come out to visit, it goes a long way.”

Still, like O’Dea, Bennet also had a larger national message for the crowd of more than 50 in Greeley.

“We cannot let the Supreme Court of the United States be the last word on a woman’s right to choose,” he told the crowd. “We have to elect pro-choice majorities in the House and in the Senate.”

Caitlyn Kim/CPR News
Gov. Jared Polis, right, campaigns with Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet at an event in Greeley on Sunday, Nov 6, 2022, as they make their final pitch to voters before Election Day.

Bennet also referred to his first election in 2010, another year that was tough for Democrats. He told a group of volunteers about to head out and knock on doors that it was because of their work that “we held onto the seat here in Colorado in 2010. And because of that, we held the majority in the U.S. Senate.”

While Bennet has led most polls in the Senate race, he faces the same economic headwinds that many Democratic candidates are encountering across the country. Historically, the party in power tends to lose seats during midterm elections.

Both parties are encouraging their supporters to vote and to make sure their family and friends do as well. For competitive races like Senate and Congressional District 8, victory could hinge on voter turnout.

CPR's guide to the 2022 election

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