Preview of US Senate Races in Colorado and New Hampshire
Elections & Politics Policy Brief #41 | By: Ian Milden | August 3, 2022
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Control of the U.S. Senate will be up for grabs in the 2022 mid-term elections. Competitive races in key states will determine the balance of power. In this brief, I will preview the US Senate races in Colorado and New Hampshire.
In Colorado, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) is running for a third full term. He was appointed to the Senate in 2009 after President Obama nominated Ken Salazar to be the Interior Secretary.
He won full terms in 2010 and 2016. In the Senate, Bennet fixed longstanding budget issues with the U.S. Forrest Service’s wildfire prevention programs.
Before his appointment to the U.S. Senate, Bennet was the superintendent of Denver Public Schools. He also worked as the chief of staff for John Hickenlooper when Hickenlooper was the Mayor of Denver. Bennet ran for President in 2020 but dropped out after the New Hampshire primary.
Republicans nominated Joe O’Dea to face Bennet in the general election. O’Dea is a construction company owner who has not previously run for public office.
He defeated Ron Hanks, a state legislator known for spreading conspiracy theories, in the primary. O’Dea has partially self-funded his campaign.
While Colorado has voted for Democrats in most of the recent statewide elections, Republicans still can win Colorado due to the large number of unaffiliated voters in Colorado. Unaffiliated voters outnumber both Democrats and Republicans in Colorado, which makes them important in Colorado elections.
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While Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) 2014 upset win over Mark Udall (D-CO) remains an outlier in recent elections, it shows that Republicans can win in Colorado. Bennet has run in bad environments before and is preparing for a difficult race. There doesn’t appear to be any polling data available publicly, but I would expect Bennet to be ahead of O’Dea at the moment.
Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) is running for a second term. Before winning the seat in 2016, Hassan was the Governor of New Hampshire. Senator Hassan was involved in the negotiations for the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed in 2021. She also worked with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to pass the STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act in 2020.
New Hampshire doesn’t hold primaries until September 13th, so Republicans have not picked a nominee yet. Eleven candidates have filed to run for the Republican nomination. Most of these candidates are not well-known or well-financed. The late primary will provide significant challenges for whoever wins the nomination because it leaves limited time to gain name recognition and campaign contributions needed for a general election campaign.
While New Hampshire Republicans are unlikely to nominate a formidable candidate, New Hampshire elections have been competitive. Senator Hassan won her first term by 1017 votes. While Senator Hassan was running against an incumbent in 2016, the political climate in 2022 might be worse than it was in 2016. If Democrats are having a tough night on election night in 2022, New Hampshire could be the first sign of trouble.