Former President George W. Bush is making a rare appearance on the campaign trail, participating in a fundraiser with Colorado Republican Senate nominee Joe O'Dea in about two weeks.
The event, shared first with NBC News, is another sign that Bush is aligning himself with candidates who have bucked former President Donald Trump. Earlier in this election cycle, Bush held fundraisers for Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Wyoming GOP Gov. Liz Cheney ahead of their primaries against Trump-backed challengers.
O'Dea, who is taking on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, has said he would not support Trump if he runs again in 2024, recently telling Meet the Press, "I’m the only Senate candidate for the Republican Party that hasn’t been endorsed by Donald Trump. Probably not going to send me a Christmas card. I don’t want to see him run again ... There’s some great Republican candidates out there, and I’m going to help campaign for them."
The fundraiser will further bolster O'Dea's campaign coffers after a strong fundraising quarter. O'Dea's campaign raised $3 million from July through September, which includes a $1 million loan from O'Dea himself. The Republican also raised another $516,000 for his joint fundraising committee with the Colorado GOP and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Parks Bennet, CEO of Campaign Inbox, which conducts O'Dea's digital fundraising, said in a statement that O'Dea's donor base has grown by 550%.
Bennet noted O'Dea has grown his donor list "despite a tough fundraising climate for all campaigns and committees. Joe’s message is resonating with both voters and donors, allowing him to break through when many others are not.”
Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn is also expected at the fundraiser with Bush. And Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., will be campaigning with O'Dea on Friday.
The events come as outside spending has ticked up in the Senate race. Giffords PAC, a group backing candidates who support gun control, and an outside group called 53 Peaks have spent more than $3 million on ads boosting Bennet and attacking O'Dea, per the ad tracking firm AdImpact. A Republican super PAC, American Policy Fund, has also jumped into the race, spending $2.6 million on ads over the last two weeks.
Even though President Joe Biden won Colorado by 14 points in 2020, O'Dea has made the race competitive. The Cook Political Report rates the Colorado Senate race Lean Democrat.