Drowsy debate in sleeper Colorado Senate race that could determine upper chamber majority

Tuesday’s drowsy Colorado Senate debate between incumbent Democrat Senator Michael Bennet and Republican challenger Joe O’Dea could be the sleeper race to determine which party wins the majority in Congress’ upper chamber.

Compared to the fiery Pennsylvania Senate debate Tuesday evening between Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman, Bennet and O’Dea’s debate was calm.

However, the Centennial State’s Senate race could prove to be the lynchpin in either party’s control of Congress’ upper chamber.

Colorado has trended to the left for decades and supported Joe Biden for president by a 13-point margin. But O’Dea surprised the political world by remaining more competitive than expected in the race, with a Real Clear Politics tracking him behind Bennet by less than 8 points.

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Covering several topics, the Tuesday candidate forum — the second of three scheduled events between the two candidates before the Nov. 8 midterm elections — notably avoided the subject of rising crime in America, instead focusing on the economy, foreign policy, and statewide issues.

On inflation, Bennet called the issue a “global challenge” and claimed that “Canada” and “the EU” have “the same inflation that we have.”

Joe O'Dea speaks at campaign event in Denver

Joe O’Dea speaks at campaign event in Denver
(Courtesy Sage Naumann for Joe O’Dea campaign)

Bennet also cited supply chain issues as a driver of inflation worldwide and called for supply chains across America and the globe to be fixed.

O’Dea fired back, saying he was “a little annoyed” at the Democrat’s answer and blaming Bennet as the person “solely responsible” for being the final vote to pass the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion spending package that has “put inflation on a spiral .”

“I don’t see how you guys keep blaming everybody else,” O’Dea said.

O’Dea took a moderate position on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Dreamers, calling for them to get citizenship as well as saying the US immigration system is “broken” and needs to be fixed. O’Dea also pledged his first bill as senator would address the border crisis.

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The Republican candidate also took aim at Bennet’s track record of voting for policies backed by President Biden, noting that the Democrat incumbent senator has voted with the president on almost every issue.

O’Dea also quipped that he doesn’t agree with his wife “98 percent of the time.”

Meanwhile, Bennet took aim at O’Dea’s immigration policies, saying the Republican supports former President Trump’s “medieval wall” and slammed O’Dea for voting for the former president twice.

Neither candidate answered the question on whether they supported sending US troops into Taiwan to push back against potential Chinese aggression.

Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado

Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado
(Al Drago/Bloomberg)

Instead, Bennet said he supports policies that would make “China think twice” about going into Taiwan while O’Dea said Taiwan was “at risk” due to Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal.

O’Dea also called for a report on why the date Biden chose for the pullout was chosen.

In their closing statements, Bennet and O’Dea saw sparks after the Democrat claimed to have passed “101 bills” he has “written” while O’Dea claimed Bennet has only passed “one bill, in 13 years that he wrote.”

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O’Dea’s jab elicited a response from the Democrat incumbent, who objected saying O’Dea’s claim is “completely untrue.”

The Republican also said in his closing statement that he would buck from the GOP on issues if needed.