Colorado Republican crossed Trump and lost race but kept dignity
Disappointment with Tuesday’s midterm election, which was more of a red trickle than a crimson tide, has stiffened Republicans’ spine.
Suddenly, they no longer cower before the MAGALomani ex-President or shy away from the irritated Thunderbolts hurl Donald Trump out of his Mar-a-Lago bunker.
Shredding decency, inviting foreign interference in our elections, subduing the insurgency: all of these transgressions could be tolerated.
But not to waste a chance of winning elections. Trump’s leaden political touch has cost Republicans control of the Senate, and many in the party are finally ready to state the obvious aloud. Trump is a loser whose losers hurt the GOP.
This is a welcome turnaround. But give credit where it’s due: Joe O’Dea took this position before it was easy or popular with many of his fellow Republicans. He berated Trump for his “big lie” of 2020 while campaigning for a US Senate seat in Colorado.
“We’ve become a nation of whiners and crybabies,” O’Dea said. “Donald Trump still can’t admit he lost.”
O’Dea was defeated Tuesday, losing easily to incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet. But he can keep his chin up. O’Dea has kept his honor – unlike, say, JD Vance.
The “Hillbilly Elegy” author and Ohio Senate nominee responded to Trump’s taunt – “JD kisses my ass. Of course he wants my support” – keeping his lips firmly in a pursed position.
Vance heads to Washington after fending off a powerful challenge from Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan. However, Vance’s dignity lingers, last seen at a Trump rally in Youngstown.
Days after the election, O’Dea said it wasn’t all that hard to take on the former president, who responded to the Coloradan’s defeat with his typical outburst. (“Joe O’Dea lost BIG!” Trump wrote on his social media page in his initial reaction to Tuesday’s results. “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!”)
“He has his opinions,” O’Dea said. “I got mine. I said what I said and that was it. I felt like we need to move the country forward” instead of continuing to negotiate the 2020 election.
“I don’t think so,” O’Dea said. “That’s an outlandish statement.”
Back when visions of sugar fairies and a comfortable Senate majority danced in the minds of Republicans, Colorado was one of the states they targeted.
The literal Bennet, seeking a third term, had not won previous campaigns by an overwhelming margin. O’Dea, a fourth-generation Coloradan and multimillion-dollar construction company owner, offered a certain appeal to ordinary men.
He broke with Republicans by opposing repeal of the Affordable Care Act — an aging Conservative hobbyist — and supporting access to abortion “early in pregnancy” and later in cases of rape, incest, or to save a woman’s life .
Principle aside, O’Dea’s stance on Trump and refusal to embrace his silly campaign claims made political sense. Trump lost Colorado to Joe Biden by a double-digit margin of 55% to 42%.
O’Dea’s primary victory over a Trump acolyte –
a state lawmaker who broke police lines in the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — has given the GOP no hope of a November excitement at all.
But Trump, whose sensibilities rival that of the princess on her pea, couldn’t help it.
In October, O’Dea went on CNN and chastised Trump for not doing more on Jan. 6 to “stop the violence from heading toward the Capitol.” Worse, O’Dea said he would “actively campaign against him” if Trump decided to run again in 2024, as now seems likely.
The answer came quickly. “MAGA doesn’t vote for stupid people with big mouths,” Trump said, a statement that was not only childish but patently untrue.
O’Dea was on his way home from office last week when he stopped in a parking lot in Greenwood Village, a Denver suburb, to discuss his Senate race and the wrath of Trump. He expressed no regrets for crossing the sulking ex-president.
“The ‘big lie’ hanging around his neck” makes him “unpalatable to many Colorado residents,” said O’Dea, who noted he voted for Trump twice but now believes it’s time for the country is moving on.
“You talk to the average American here in Colorado, you walk down the street and you say, ‘Do you want to see a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024?’ and they’ll tell you, ‘Hell, no. Let’s do something else. Let’s get some people in there who want to move our country forward.’”
O’Dea said he received some backlash from Trump supporters during the campaign, but “for the most part … people were like, ‘Finally someone’s talking about what’s good for Colorado and good for America.’ I have a lot of it.”
As a first-time candidate, O’Dea did not say if he would run for elected office again.
But like many others, he bemoaned the knee-jerk partisanship and free-flowing abuse that pollutes our political climate.
“I would like to see things that make the country better and make the country work. So when you focus on that, you have less partiality (and) division. A lot of this was caused by both parties,” he said. “The attribution. come on, really? Aren’t we grown up?”
It has taken far too long for far too many blind-eyed Republicans to recognize Trump as the uniquely harmful and dangerous political force that he has become.
The motive for acknowledging the obvious — a disappointment in a midterm election that far underperformed the GOP — is hardly selfless or pure-hearted. A different outcome and many would likely still be hooked on the damaging Trump train.
So someone like O’Dea deserves credit for having the courage to speak up when he did.
As we have sadly seen, all it takes for Trumpism to fester is for good men and women to remain silent.
https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-11-13/midterm-election-2022-toxic-trump-republican-colorado-senate-joe-odea Colorado Republican crossed Trump and lost race but kept dignity