Michael Bennet

Michael Bennet wins Senate race in Colorado

DENVER (AP) — Democrat Michael Bennet won reelection to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, besting Republican businessman and first-time challenger Joe O’Dea.

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Bennet won his third race on his pledge to protect abortion rights, an indication of how important the issue is to the blue-leaning state of Colorado. O’Dea was the rare Republican to support Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights ruling that conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court overturned this summer. But that didn’t help him.

Bennet’s campaign hammered O’Dea on his opposition to abortions late in a pregnancy and on his support for the very GOP-appointed justices who overturned Roe.

Bennet and his backers dramatically outspent the novice candidate on the airwaves, while O’Dea only got rhetorical support from Senate Republicans in Washington, who never sent significant financial resources his way.

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O’Dea tried to position himself as a future “Republican Joe Manchin,” referring to the conservative Democratic West Virginian senator as an example of a nonpartisan deal-maker who could end Washington gridlock. The son of a police officer, O’Dea said crime and the economy were his main concerns, not social issues. He had voted twice for Donald Trump, but O’Dea said he’d campaign against the former president in the 2024 GOP primary, citing better options like South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Colorado voters didn’t buy it, cementing the state’s transformation from a competitive swing state early in the century to a more reliably Democratic one. Only one Republican, Cory Gardner, has won a federal race in Colorado since 2004, and voters ousted him from the Senate in 2020.

Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.