Appearing at a campaign stop at the Copper Rail Bar and Grill in Brighton on Wednesday, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, who will be competing against election conspiracist and insurrectionist Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Cañon City) in the June 28 primary, denounced Colorado’s newly passed law that guarantees the right to an abortion in state statute.
“Well, actually, if [Roe v. Wade] gets overturned, it’s going to push it to the states,” said O’Dea in response to a question about what kind of legislation he would support around abortion. “And this bill [Reproductive Health Equity Act] that just came through at our gold dome, that Polis signed a couple of weeks ago, to me, it’s reckless, it approves third-term abortions, and I’m not in favor of that. So it’s going to be a local-level issue.”
O’Dea’s claim about “third-term abortions” is a common talking point from anti-abortion activists, but one not grounded in reality. Less than 1% of all abortions occur after 21 weeks of pregnancy, under complicated and often horrific circumstances. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 93% of abortions in 2019 took place at or before 13 weeks gestation, and about 6% occur between 14 and 20 weeks gestation.
“Cobalt endorsed Sen. Michael Bennet [D-CO] early for the Senate race because he is a longtime champion for abortion rights and our Colorado values,” said Karen Middleton, president of abortion advocacy group COBALT in an email. “Joe O’Dea’s opposition to the Reproductive Health Equity Act means he does not agree with the vast majority of Coloradans on abortion access and reproductive rights, at a time when the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and take those rights away. O’Dea’s opposition to RHEA and abortion rights are disqualifying for anyone running for elected office in Colorado.”
County commissioners in Park and Weld Counties, included U.S. congressional candidate Lori Saine, have tried, unsuccessfully, to make it a local issue by introducing “pro-life sanctuary county” proclamations this month.
While O’Dea has said he won’t talk to Democrats, he had no problems talking to potential Republican voters at the Brighton event not only about abortion but also corporal punishment in schools and crime.
O’Dea addressed his stance on abortion after an audience member asked him whether he was “pro-choice,” which prompted O’Dea to reminisce about the days of corporal punishment in schools. “Pro-choice for schools,” he said. “I love what happened with a lot of our schools this year. People got motivated. Right? They came out and they got the school boards turned over because I believe kids should have the choice of, or parents should have a choice of where they put their kids and parents should also get to choose what their kids learn. They should know what their kids are learning. I was kind of a little bit of a smartass at a young age. My dad dragged me out of public school because I wasn’t doing very well. And he put me in J.K. Mullen High School, which at the time was an all boys Catholic school run by nuns and brothers who knew what discipline was. I still have scars from the rulers, but it was good to be accountable. But the point is, that was a great option for my parents, because I was able to succeed. And I believe every parent should have that.”
While recent board of education elections in Colorado resulted in some districts electing conservative majorities, those new majorities have created no shortage of controversies. Douglas County is bracing for a lawsuit from recently fired former superintendent Corey Wise. Colorado Springs School District 11 paid its former superintendent over $300,000 after he stepped down. District 49, also in Colorado Springs, recently censured a board member over complaints of harassment and a toxic board environment after controversy over social and emotional learning. In Woodland Park, Director Gary Brovetto resigned after a tenure marked by controversy over derogatory comments aimed at students, amid a broader controversy over a proposed charter school. In Huerfano, new board member Jenna Fox has been the subject of protests over comments to staff and students.
O’Dea also attacked Bennet for defunding the police, a thing that hasn’t actually happened. “Michael Bennet had an opportunity when they were talking about defunding and demoralizing our police,” he said. “He could have stood out in the leftist party and said it’s a bad idea. But he never did that. He never got behind our cops. It’s a deeply personal issue for me. My dad was a 30-year veteran of the Denver Police Department. And so I know what it’s like to be a kid five, six years old, wondering whether or not your parents, your dad is going to come home from his job. These people put their lives on the line every day. We need to stand behind them, we fall off even further, when we start talking about what the woke DA has done here in Colorado, we got a catch and release program, it is unbelievable. Talk to the cops, they’ll tell you straight out. We’ve got guys that have been arrested eight times for auto theft. And they’re back on the street in a matter of hours. That doesn’t make any sense to me at all. How is that going to lower the rate of crime and so we need to strengthen and get behind the locals so that we can have law and order.”
The event ended with O’Dea discussing election integrity, the issue that dominated this year’s Colorado GOP Assembly, where election conspiracists like Hanks and indicted Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, who is running for Colorado Secretary of State, got top billing in their respective races.
“Well, election integrity is important,” said O’Dea. “And I think we all recognize that. If 50% or 60% of the people who are in the party don’t believe that we got fair and free elections. That’s an issue. So we got work to do. I think we need to make sure that whatever we do, we’ve got a voter ID. We need to impose that we need to make sure the signatures match. We need to make sure the laws are all good. Those are the things that they can look at, at a local level. As a federal senator, one thing that I’m going to do is make sure we don’t federalize our elections. Both Bennet and Biden in the past four months have voted three or four times, I think it is, to federalize our elections for it’s called HR-1. In addition to that, they want to get rid of the filibuster, it was on the last bill that they would approve that and that means ultimately everything would get federalized. Right, so I’m all opposed to that. That’s what I’ll do. Thanks for the question. Thank you guys for coming today. I really appreciate it. Nice to be with you.”
There is no serious effort in the U.S. “federalize our elections,” and Bennet and Hickenlooper have not voted to federalize elections.