Michael Bennet projected winner of Colorado Senate race

Elections 2022

(NewsNation) —NewsNation/ Decision Desk HQ has called the race for the U.S. Senate seat representing Colorado in favor of Michael Bennett. 

The race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Republican challenger Joe O’Dea was one of four sleeper races with potential implications for the partisan balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Colorado Republicans have not won a top-tier race in the state since 2014. 

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O’Dea tried to focus the campaign on crime and inflation, promoting a ramping up of American energy production to lower the price of gas. During the opponents’ final debate, Bennet went on the attack about abortion, even though O’Dea is the rare Republican who backs abortion rights — at least through 20 weeks of pregnancy, after which he thinks the procedure should be banned.

Midterm elections are seen as a referendum on the sitting president and his performance in his first two years in office. Many Democrats, including Bennet, sought to distance themselves from President Joe Biden, who has had low approval ratings in the months leading up to the election.

During the campaign, Bennet said he was against some of Biden’s policies including the student debt forgiveness plan, the president’s trip to Saudi Arabia earlier this year and lifting a pandemic-related restriction on immigrants seeking asylum at the southern border. 

Along those lines, O’Dea said in August that he hopes neither Biden nor former President Donald Trump announces a 2024 presidential bid. The Republican has instead voiced support for other potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, according to The Hill.

Just days before the election, the sitting senator held a double-digit lead over his opponent, a lead that isn’t surprising in a state that has moved firmly into Democrats’ corner in recent years. Still, with a week left before Election Day, numbers suggested that O’Dea’s support was growing

National Republicans admired O’Dea’s attempt to keep the race away from social issues, but they didn’t invest much money in helping his campaign. Bennet and O’Dea have spent about $19.5 million and $6.8 million on their campaigns, respectively, according to Open Secrets

Of the 100 Senate seats, 35 will see elections during the midterms, including one special election. Democrats have an effective majority in the chamber, with a 50-50 split and Vice President Kamala Harris acting as the tie-breaking vote. Democrats hold 14 seats and Republicans hold 21 seats up for election in the 2022 midterms.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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