O'Dea McConnell

Colorado 2022 Republican U.S. Senate nominee Joe O’Dea, left, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky

Calling Republican U.S. Senate nominee Joe O'Dea "the perfect candidate" for Colorado, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged on Tuesday to go "all-in" on O'Dea's challenge to Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet doing a surprise appearance at a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., Axios reported.

"I just want to assure everybody, we're going to be all-in in Colorado," McConnell told attendees at the reception, according to a source who attended the event, the online outlet reported. "We think we can win this race."

Others on hand included National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Rick Scott, Senate Republican Whip John Thune, Republican Senate conference chairman John Barrasso and former U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, the last Republican elected to the Senate from Colorado.

Added McConnell: "I wanted to dispel any notion that you may have that we're not going to play in Colorado."

A source with the O'Dea campaign confirmed the Axios account.

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It's the first firm indication that national Republicans consider Colorado's race among the party's pick-up targets in the November election. Both major parties' national Senate campaign committees and super PACs associated with Senate leadership have yet to announce major spending in the state, which went for Democrat Joe Biden by 13 percentage points two years ago.

Calling himself a pro-choice centrist, O'Dea, who defeated state Rep. Ron Hanks by about 9 points in the June 28 primary, told Axios his moderate approach and focus on inflation, energy production and crime will position him for a win.

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"We need more moderate candidates," he said. "We need candidates that can win in Colorado. If you’re so far to the right that you can’t win a purple state, that’s a non-starter."

Nico Delgado, a spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party, told Colorado Politics McConnell's remarks demonstrate that O'Dea will be the "perfect candidate" to advance the longtime Republican leader's agenda.

"O'Dea is selling out working Coloradans to suck up to Mitch McConnell and assure him that he will be a reliable vote to pass the far right MAGA agenda," Delgado said in a text message.

McConnell's signal means the Senate GOP could be relying on beating Bennet to take the majority in the chamber as Republicans encounter unexpected difficulties in more reliably competitive states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Hampshire and Arizona.

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