Colorado Senate nominee O’Dea dropped out of college to start working. Can he beat a 13-year incumbent?
Joe O’Dea was finishing his bachelor’s degree. I only need to complete a few semesters – not even a full-time semester.
A star student, O’Dea made the Dean’s List for his first semester and earned a scholarship that paid for part of his education for the rest of his time studying construction management at Colorado State University.
But he was eager to get down to business.
“I still have, I think, six or seven credits left,” O’Dea told Fox News. “It was educational courses,” such as psychology and “letter writing.”
“And they needed an entire semester, which was about $2,500, I think, at the time,” he continued. “My scholarship covered a little more than half of that.”
Odia had interrupted his education once before: he took a break for a few years After high school To work as a union carpenter.
“I’ve had to work my whole life,” O’Dea told Fox News. “Nothing was given to me.”
But when he joined Love – who eventually married – in Colorado, he followed her to Fort Collins and began working on his own degree. In the end, he decided that the last semester wasn’t worth the price.
“I dropped out because they didn’t want to pay another semester’s fees,” O’Dea said. “I needed to go to work.”
By that time, he and his wife Celeste were married. Together, they started their own basement construction company.
Now, more than 30 years later, O’Dea has a realistic chance of ousting Michael Bennett, the senior US senator from Colorado who served for 13 years. Republican Challenger Tracks in pollsbut within walking distance. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Compare O’Dea to a truck driver who ousted the president of the New Jersey Senate last year.
“I understand the plight of working Americans and how difficult it is to get things to pile up on the kitchen table,” O’Dea told Fox News. He has repeatedly relied on his humble background to reach out to Colorado voters as inflation continues to soar to 40-year highs.
“Americans are feeling very tired now and very insecure,” O’Dea said. “That’s why my nomination means so much to Colorado.”
“We need some new policies that will help working Americans,” he added. “And that’s why I’m in this race.”
Bennett’s campaign declined to make the senator available for an interview and did not provide comment for this story.
In August, Bennett, a Democrat, questioned whether O’Dea had contact with working-class Coloradans as claimed.
“This is a man who literally posted on Facebook a picture of him and his wife riding their horses to buy sushi in his posh neighborhood,” Bennett said on MSNBC.
O’Dea later replied that he had been riding horses all his life.
“work hard every day”
O’Dea grew up in a Part of Southeast Denver It was mostly fields and livestock.
Fourth-generation Coloradan, the adopted son of a police officer, said he was brought up to respect cops — an upbringing that continues to influence his political positions on law enforcement.
“As the son of a cop, you’re always worried about embarrassing your dad because you know if you do something out of line, anger will catch up,” O’Dea said. It also instilled in us respect for law and order.”
“I think the other thing that really gives you growing up in a cop home is how dangerous this job is,” O’Dea continued. “I can remember sleeping when I was a five or six-year-old kid and wondering if your dad would ever come home from his job.”
But his father also stressed the importance of education. When O’Dea’s grades dropped, his parents transferred him to a boys’ Catholic school.
In his first year, O’Dea began an apprenticeship in carpentry. He was a day laborer by the time he graduated and worked as a union carpenter for several years before starting college.
When O’Dea They dropped out of collegeFinally, plans to finish.
O’Dea said, “I just decided, ‘You know what? I can make it up later. I’ll get to it later. It never happened later.'”
The construction company that he and his wife started soon took off from the basement.
“When you work 8,000 hours a week at your job, you don’t have time to do paper or such things,” O’Dea told Fox News.
From there, O’Dea built his company from the ground up. He said he would get up at 4 a.m. to pay salaries and pay the bills before leaving the house.
“I was usually on the job site by 6 a.m., and I was there until 7 p.m.,” O’Dea told Fox News. “When I get home, I’ll probably have time for a little dinner, say hi to my wife, hit the hay by 9:30, 10 and get up and do it again.”
“I can remember several Sundays working on changing an engine out of a loader or out of a truck because we couldn’t afford the mechanics,” he continued. “My partner and I did it ourselves.”
O’Dea’s Concrete Express company, today employs more than 300 Coloradans. He said he has seen “every aspect of the construction industry” and has survived three recessions.
“You have to be tough enough to weather the storm,” O’Dea told Fox News.
The Republican flaunts his business successes in the hope that he can win over Colorado voters. but the Denver Business Journal It reported earlier this month that Concrete Express has faced $135,000 in fines for 28 violations of federal safety standards since it was founded in 1988, though the publication also notes that the company has won safety awards.
“I think anyone who’s been involved in a business understands it because they’ve been a victim of it,” O’Dea told the newspaper in response. “I already have hundreds of employees who have worked here and retired here… I will keep this record.”
Regardless, O’Dea said his business background will do Benefit him in the Senate.
“That gives me a huge advantage over Senator Bennett,” O’Dea told Fox News. “I know what it’s like to work hard every day.”
Bennett, the son of a lifelong Democratic activist, has spent much of his career in politics. However, for some time he held the position of Managing Director of the Anschutz Investment Company.
“I know how to negotiate with clients, Democrats and Republicans alike, to get a great result for the projects we’ve been responsible for,” O’Day said. “This skill set makes me uniquely qualified to serve as a United States Senator.”
Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.