Instead, much of his adult life has been about business. O’Dea attended Colorado State University, but eventually dropped out to focus full-time on a construction company he started while a student. 34 years later, this company, Concrete Express, today employs approximately 300 people. Its headquarters are at Mile High Station, an event venue O’Dea owns near Empower Field.
It was the construction industry that ultimately drew O’Dea to politics.
“The first time I was really involved was going to a Colorado Contractors Association legislative meeting around 1996,” the first-time candidate recalled. “So I started thinking, how is this going to affect my business? It was a really good learning experience.
It’s that business perspective that O’Dea – who presents himself to voters as a political outsider – said he wanted to bring to what he described as a “broken” Washington.
“They are not meeting the needs of American workers. And, if they are, they’re pretty slow to respond,” O’Dea said. “I love this country and we need representation that can say ‘enough’. And that’s what they get by electing me.
If elected, O’Dea would be the first person Colorado has sent to the Senate without any prior governmental or legislative experience since Eugene Milliken in the 1940s. (Bennet had held no previous elected office when he was elected). appointed in 2010, but worked as superintendent of Denver Public Schools and served two years as chief of staff to then-mayor John Hickenlooper.)
Social Issues vs. Kitchen Table Concerns
Politically, O’Dea focused his campaign on kitchen table issues: inflation, rising gas prices, and crime.
And he tries to argue that as a senator, his business background and working-class roots would help him get things done on these issues.
“I can tell you that nothing gets done unless two parties come to an agreement,” O’Dea said. “And so I’m going to take those skills, and I’m going to use them in Washington to convince people that ‘here I have some ideas about how we do this. I will listen. I am a very good listener. You also have to be respectful. »
While a willingness to compromise might be high on the list of traits some general election voters are looking for, “fighting” tends to be a more popular adjective with many Republican primary voters, especially when it comes to It’s about more controversial issues, such as the validity of the 2020 presidential election and abortion.
In his campaign, O’Dea tried to walk a fine line, trying not to alienate grassroots voters, while holding positions that could help him appeal to the wider electorate.
At a candidates’ forum earlier this year, O’Dea told the audience that he doesn’t believe the election was stolen and that “Joe Biden is our president. He is a bad president. He said that instead of focusing on 2020, the GOP needs to “stick to the issues.”
With the Supreme Court seemingly poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, a longtime conservative target, O’Dea holds a softer stance on abortion than many GOP candidates. He said it should be legal in early pregnancy and would also allow it for certain medical emergencies. It is an acknowledgment that Colorado voters have supported abortion access on the ballot and in the Statehouse for several years.
O’Dea said not everyone will agree on every issue. “I know my position on abortion is not the same as yours,” he told an audience at the Western Conservatives’ summit, “but we share the common goal. I support a nationwide end to late elective abortion, a nationwide end to taxpayer funded abortion, a nationwide parental notification requirement.