When I was growing up, we’d use the phrase a person was the “real deal.” In my neighborhood, that might have been the highest compliment one could receive. It meant the person was authentic and genuine. Joe O’Dea, who’s running for the U.S. Senate in Colorado, is the “real deal.”
O’Dea is sincere when he says he is running to be “a voice for working Americans.” He can relate to blue-collar workers because he was one and in his heart will always be one. Prior to starting his construction business, Joe was a union carpenter and worked in the trades for a number of years. He understands getting his hands dirty and having them calloused at the end of a long day. More importantly, he appreciates the challenges many blue-collar workers deal with each day. He faced many of those same trials when he was starting out and working as a construction worker.
When O’Dea indicates he can appreciate the issues facing public safety and the difficult job law enforcement confronts each day, he’s being honest. O’Dea was raised by a Denver police officer. Having a father in law enforcement means he heard and saw daily what was involved. More importantly, he recognizes one of the foremost concerns at this time is public safety. He realizes it’s important we support those in law enforcement, but also ensure they interact responsibly in that role.
O’Dea understands the difficulties and problems of small businesses.
That’s because he started one with only he and his wife before growing his business to more than 300 employees. As he built his business, he experienced firsthand the problems many small businesspeople do related to financing, staffing, competing with larger businesses and complying with a myriad of state and federal regulations. He appreciates the impact government has on small businesses and the difficulties new regulations and laws pose for them.
O’Dea comprehends the challenges working class families face in our state.
That’s because he grew up in one and witnessed daily the balancing acts the majority of our state’s households face. One could see, then, the impact of inflation and difficult choices it forced his parents and others to make. Facing similar levels of inflation today, he understands how families must grapple with rising food, gas and housing costs.
O’Dea appreciates our state’s diverse population. His wife, Celeste’s, grandparents immigrated from Mexico. Her story is as impressive as his in regard to achieving the American dream. As a teenager, she cleaned homes, worked in fast food and then retail. She was a good student and attended CSU, where she received a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and worked for 25 years in the medical technology field. While many speak of diversity in the workforce, O’Dea’s company is a model for others. The majority of O’Dea’s workforce at his company, Concrete Express, are Hispanic. His company has uplifted the lives of many of his employees.
O’Dea is one of those rare candidates who’s his own man. While he’s a Republican, he holds views that don’t conform with certain party positions.
He’s indicated he’ll listen to both sides and not be one to vote the party line.
Whether Joe O’Dea wins or loses, he’ll remain the same authentic guy he’s always been. It’s in his DNA, as it is with others who are the “real deal.”
Greg Fulton is president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, an organization that represents more than 650 companies involved or affiliated with the industry across Colorado.