This year, Bennet’s own reelection is a test case for a senator never known for his soundbites, jarring headlines or owning the Sunday shows — an attribute almost universally shared by this year’s crop of vulnerable Democratic incumbents. A former Denver schools superintendent, Bennet says his under-the-radar style works best for Coloradans who eschew flashy politicians.
And since his closer-than-expected brush with Glenn in 2016, allies say Bennet’s ready this time around.
“He’s really put a lot of time into hearing from the people of Colorado. I think that will pay dividends,” Hickenlooper said. “But again, there are headwinds here that are serious.”
As he faces voters for a third time, Bennet’s become a sharper critic of his party than most. And he’s grown more willing to talk about it — an extension of a presidential campaign that often focused on how Mitch McConnell outmaneuvered Democrats. He is livid that Democrats aren’t talking more about their work with Biden to make big investments in infrastructure and the economy or the last-gasp effort at passing more big legislation.
“The national Democratic Party has done a terrible job talking about what we’ve accomplished and what we’re fighting to accomplish,” Bennet said. “Nobody is more aggravated than I am with the national Democratic Party, that we didn’t fight harder to extend those child tax credits for working people in this state.”
Bennet doesn’t blame Biden for his own plight in Colorado, but he is not exactly racing to campaign with the president, saying, “I haven’t thought about it at all.” He said Biden’s visit in January to a fire-charred section of Colorado was helpful and he’d welcome a similar visit with a focus on climate change. His GOP opponents are up for that, too.
“I’d actually pay for the flight out for Biden to come as many times as he wants this year with Michael Bennet,” quipped Joe O’Dea, one of two Republicans running for GOP nomination.
The Colorado businessperson is running against state Rep. Ron Hanks, who falsely claims that former President Donald Trump won in 2020. O’Dea declined to discuss Hanks other than to say, “I’m going to beat the guy by 10-15 points June 28.”
Hanks’ campaign did not respond to inquiries for this story.
Republicans on Capitol Hill are thinking an O’Dea matchup would give them a better chance at taking Bennet down.
“Colorado is not a red state. It is a blue state. And we have to have people that are focused on the issues that resonate,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). “I’d see on its face how O’Dea would be a better match-up against Bennet.”
Bennet predicted that the Republican campaign against him will be simple: Rising gas prices, inflation and his decade-plus in Washington. He conceded that Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus spending package may have contributed to inflation, but argued that the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies and supply chain woes are more to blame.
And he vehemently rejected the idea that the expanded child tax credit caused rising prices as it lifted families out of poverty: “It is a ridiculous statement to say $100 billion investment in working people on a $23 trillion dollar economy is going to drive inflation.”