Though high-profile Senate races in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire and North Carolina have been the focus of most media reporting, some suggest that control of the Senate after November’s election will come down to four “sleeper” races in Colorado, Iowa, Washington and Utah.
Colorado Republican Senate nominee Joe O’Dea is a businessman and first-time candidate. Though he does not have the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, who has called O’Dea a RHINO (Republican in name only), he does have the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and a Republican super PAC.
O’Dea will face Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet in November’s election. Last week, The Hill reported that Bennet had a 7-point lead but O’Dea was closing the gap.
Fox News reported that O’Dea has recently entered into an online feud with Trump. During a Sunday talk show interview on CNN, O’Dea said he’d “actively campaign against Trump and for other GOP candidates if the former president runs again in 2024.”
Trump responded by posting: “MAGA doesn’t Vote for stupid people with big mouths.”
O’Dea shot back: “President Trump is entitled to his opinion, but I’m my own man and I’ll call it like I see it. Another Biden-Trump election will tear this country apart. DeSantis, Scott, Pompeo or Haley would be better choices. These elections should be focused on Joe Biden’s failures supercharged inflation, a broken border, rampant crime, a war on American energy, not a rehash of 2020.”
Senate Leadership Fund president Steven Law told Fox News: “We’ve been monitoring Colorado and we like what we see there. We think Michael Bennet is vulnerable.”
Recognizing potential vulnerabilities, Democratic super PACs have recently poured more than a million dollars into Bennet’s campaign.
Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of the nonpartisan political handicapper Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told Fox News:
“If there’s a sleeper upset potential for Republicans, Colorado is likely to be it.”
Another surprise Republican win could come in Washington State, though a Republican has not won a Senate seat in Washington in 30 years.
First-time candidate Tiffany Smiley (R) is running against veteran incumbent Patty Murray (D). Smiley, a nurse and veterans’ rights advocate, trails Murray by almost 9 points but, according to a Fox report, has “outraised the longtime Democratic incumbent by roughly $2.3 million in the past three months.”
Smiley claims her fundraising success shows there is growing support, and a come-from-behind win is possible. “I am blown away and humbled by the groundswell of support we have received,” Smiley said in a statement.
The state of Utah may produce another election surprise. There, two-term Republican Sen. Mike Lee is facing a serious challenge from Independent Evan McMullin. Polling shows that Lee leads the race by just 2 points.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney (R) has not supported Lee’s candidacy, reportedly because Lee supported Trump’s efforts to contest the results of the 2020 election.
Interestingly, McMullin has stated that if he wins, he will not caucus with the Democratic or Republican Party — making him a wildcard in key upcoming votes in the Senate.
And in Iowa, the 89-year-old Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has served as a senator for forty years, is said to be facing his toughest election challenge yet in Democrat Mike Franken, a retired Navy Admiral.
Though Grassley has served with distinction, he is losing support, particularly among independents, due to concerns about his age.
Local polling shows Grassley has a slim 3-point advantage over Franken.
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