Sen. Michael Bennet, left, and Joe O’Dea, right. (Bennet: Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline. O’Dea: Courtesy of Sage Naumann/O’Dea campaign)
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet on Tuesday said he will participate in five debates and candidate forums next month as he seeks to win reelection and hold off a challenge from Republican Joe O’Dea.
“Michael enjoyed talking to voters in packed rooms across Colorado this August,” Bennet press secretary Georgina Beven said in a statement. “He looks forward to five candidate forums in October where Coloradans will see and hear more about his record of fighting to lower costs and create good paying jobs for working people, protecting Colorado’s public lands and our way of life, rejecting corporate special interests and working to fix Washington.”
O’Dea, a first-time candidate and CEO of a Denver construction firm, previously challenged Bennet to three televised debates. His campaign said Tuesday that he had already accepted invitations to several of the events in question.
“Yes, Joe the contractor will be delighted to debate the blue-blooded professional politician,” said O’Dea communications director Kyle Kohli.
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Bennet’s list of events does not include an appearance at Club 20, the conservative-leaning Western Slope organization whose election-year events — once a fixture in Colorado’s political calendar — have more frequently been snubbed by Democratic candidates in recent years.
O’Dea last month confirmed his participation in the Club 20 debate, scheduled for Sept. 10.
“Club 20 is a Colorado tradition that I hope Michael will attend again like he has before,” he said at the time. “The Western Slope should not be ignored.”
Bennet accepted an invitation to a separate debate hosted by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel at Colorado Mesa University, which is scheduled for Oct. 25.
The full debate schedule as proposed by Bennet is as follows:
- Oct. 12: Hosted by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Denver Business Journal at the University of Denver
- Oct. 19: Hosted by MSU Denver in partnership with the Colorado Latino Leadership Advocacy and Research Organization at Auraria Media Center
- Oct. 25: Hosted by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel at Colorado Mesa University
- Oct. 28: Hosted by 9News Denver, NewsChannel 13 and Colorado Politics at Colorado State University
- Date TBD: Healthier Colorado, CBS4 Colorado, Colorado Public Radio and The Colorado Sun at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Bennet and his 2016 GOP challenger, Darryl Glenn, participated in three debates and forums, including the Club 20 event, ahead of Bennet’s 50%-to-44% reelection win.
Polls have consistently shown Bennet leading O’Dea in his bid to win a third full Senate term. Late last month, a poll sponsored by the Republican Attorney Generals Association showed O’Dea narrowing the gap to just 1 percentage point — but another survey released the same day by Public Policy Polling gave Bennet an 11-point advantage.
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