DENVER (KDVR) — A group of labor unions is crIticizing a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate less than a week before the final day to cast a ballot in the primary election. Supporters say it is last-minute politicking.
All of the drama is centered around Michael Bennet’s U.S. Senate seat, but the fight is among Republicans — though Democratic groups have assisted in drawing attention to the race. The latest in the saga surrounding the two Republican candidates played out in front of one of their businesses.
The candidates are state Rep. Ron Hanks and Denver businessman Joe O’Dea. You have probably seen ads that Democratic groups are running about each of them: the ads calling Hanks too conservative and claiming O’Dea is not who he says he is.
Colorado AFL-CIO opposes O’Dea
Labor unions held an event outside of O’Dea’s businesses in Denver Wednesday, saying he is not a champion for his workers.
“Working Coloradans need to know the truth about Joe O’Dea’s business history. We’re here today to make sure there’s a light shined on it and he is held accountable,” said Dennis Dougherty, executive director of Colorado’s AFL-CIO.
They were joined by Democratic state Sen. Julie Gonzales.
“I’m here standing today in solidarity both with the workers of my Senate district, workers in the state of Colorado and the labor unions of Colorado to be clear in saying: Joe O’Dea will not be a voice for working people and it is offensive for him to be running ads claiming to be a champion for working people when in fact, his own record demonstrates quite the opposite,” Gonzales said.
The groups brought up an age and discrimination lawsuit filed by a former human resource worker at O’Dea’s concrete company that has since been settled. Workers at the event do not work for O’Dea.
“Nobody here has worked for Concrete Express. We’re here because we have a candidate who says he’s going to defend Colorado workers and everything we’ve seen leaves us to believe the contrary,” Dougherty said.
Why didn’t the union group target Hanks’ labor record?
Another state lawmaker showed up with a different goal. Representative and business owner Colin Larson came out to voice his support for O’Dea, despite working at the Capitol with O’Dea’s opponent.
“What they’ve been doing to Joe is really despicable, and I mean I’m incredibly disappointed to see my colleague Senator Gonzales here. Politics is becoming so nasty and visceral. It’s totally fair to question a candidate and their beliefs in a public forum, but the fact that they’d come here and harass his employees then bring a blow-up character acting like a petulant child,” Larson said.
FOX31 did not see any employees get harassed, but the inflatable fat cat holding a worker by the neck in one hand and a bag of cash in another was hard to miss.
“It’s certainly eye-popping to see how much money they are willing to spend to try to get a do-nothing insurrectionist like Ron Hanks elected, but again, I just don’t think it’s going to work,” Larson said.
Ron Hanks, the other Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, represents Fremont at the Colorado Capitol. He maintains he attended a rally outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but did not riot or go into the Capitol.
Union leaders were asked why they did not mention Hanks’ record against union-backed measures at the Capitol.
“You don’t see Ron Hanks going around trying to be something he is not. He owns the fact that he is anti-union. He owns the fact that he’s anti-worker,” Dougherty said. “We have a candidate who I take issue with, and everybody else takes issue with, up here with saying that he is going to go out and fight for workers. That’s just not the case. As the largest advocacy organization for workers in the state, we take issue with that,” Dougherty said.
Candidates only have six more days to go back and forth before voters get those ballots in but, the battles among candidates are obviously not over just yet.