Former Interior Secretaries Bernhardt and Norton Endorse Joe O’Dea in US Senate Republican Primary | Election 2022

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Two Colorado Republicans who served as Interior Secretary on Saturday backed Joe O’Dea in the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Michael Bennet.

Gale Norton, a former state attorney general, and David Bernhardt, an energy and natural resources lawyer, called the wealthy construction company owner’s focus on American energy independence a the key to unseating the two-term holder.

“The explosion in the cost of energy and the inflationary catastrophe it helped trigger top the list. O’Dea’s formula – focused on fixing inflation and high energy costs – is how Republicans win Colorado,” Norton and Bernhardt said in a joint op-ed that will air in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on Sunday.

O’Dea takes on state Rep. Ron Hanks, a first-term Canon City lawmaker, in Colorado’s June 28 Republican primary. Hanks was the only candidate to emerge from the GOP state assembly last month, while O’Dea won a spot on the petition ballot.

“A return to balance means increasing energy production on federal lands, forcing the Bureau of Land Management to restart regular leasing on the West Slope, which produces some of the cleanest gas on the planet,” said Norton and Bernhardt in their endorsement. “O’Dea also promised to encourage sensible state energy policies. A nudge from a tough, accomplished construction CEO turned U.S. senator would remind officials that abundant energy lowers prices at the consumption.”

They added: “Heaven knows it, Colorado needs it. Our state has an abundance of energy assets – oil, gas, wind and solar. We believe that if we rally around the leadership and common sense of Joe O ‘Dea, we can unlock these resources, attack inflation, promote energy independence, and set our state and country in the right direction. We urge voters to join us in supporting Joe O’Dea in the US Senate .

O’Dea called Norton and Bernhardt “intelligent and accomplished leaders” in a statement to Colorado Politics praising their support.

“Imagine how much better off Colorados and Americans would be if they still ran the Interior — turning on the tap and making America energy independent,” he added.

Norton served as Home Secretary under former President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006, and Bernhardt, a Rifle native, served as former President Donald Trump’s second Home Secretary from 2019 to 2021. Between their terms, Colorado Democrat Ken Salazar, who held the U.S. Senate seat that Bennet defends, served in the same position under former President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013.

Bernhardt had previously endorsed one of O’Dea’s main rivals, calling real estate developer Gino Campana the best Republican to unseat Bennett, but Campana failed to run in the primary ballot.

Mail-in ballots begin mailing to most Colorado voters on June 6. They must be returned to county clerks by 7 p.m. on June 28.

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