Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, and his Republican rival, Joe O’Dea, will square off in a final debate on Friday night as they both try to win over remaining undecided voters with Election Day just over a week away.
The debate, which is taking place at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, follows one on Tuesday night in which the two had a fairly reserved exchange that did not even touch on abortion rights — one of the chief points of contention in the campaign so far. Friday’s showdown is expected to be more aggressive, with a much larger audience. It will begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time and be streamed live.
“This is one of our best and last opportunities to show undecided voters who we are and what we stand for: like freedom of choice, protecting public lands, and an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” Mr. Bennet said in a fund-raising email sent Friday.
Mr. O’Dea, a construction company owner making his first run for public office, has stepped up his criticism of Mr. Bennet, who is seeking a third full term, and the Biden administration, blaming them for rising crime and lax security at the border with Mexico. “There’s a humanitarian crisis at the border,” he said recently on a Fox News radio program, pointing to migrant deaths as well as the smuggling of fentanyl, which he said has killed 1,900 Coloradans, along with other drugs. “We’ve got to put an end to it. Bennet and Biden, they will not treat it like a crisis. I will.”
Mr. O’Dea has sought to present himself as a more moderate Republican, and broke with former President Donald J. Trump, a move which brought him a rebuke. Mr. Bennet has emphasized his record on Colorado issues, including obtaining funding for river and conservation projects.
The race is not in the top tier of Republican pickup opportunities. But national Republicans say they believe Mr. O’Dea could still have a chance as the party’s candidates have gained momentum in recent weeks, though polls have kept Mr. Bennet in the front throughout the campaign.