The biggest story in Colorado politics today is the departure of Colorado’s foremost political news reporter, Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post, to take a new job as spokesperson for GOP Secretary of State Wayne Williams. From Williams’ press release this morning, released just after word spread on social media of Bartels’ decision to leave the Post:
“I am thrilled that Lynn has decided to join our team,” said Williams. “When Coloradans think of Lynn Bartels they think of experience, professionalism, and humor.”
Bartels has worked in Colorado since 1993 when she was hired by the Rocky Mountain News, where she won numerous awards for a variety of stories, ranging from the one-year anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing to Denver’s 2003 mayoral race. The Denver Post hired Bartels in 2009 after the Rocky closed. She worked in New Mexico before moving to Denver. In 2015, The Washington Post named Bartels as one of Colorado’s best state political reporters.
“I am forever grateful that The Denver Post gave me a home when the Rocky closed,” Bartels said. “It’s hard to imagine a life outside of journalism but my dog is very happy that I’m going to give it a try. I am very excited for this new opportunity.”
Bartels said she was impressed last year when the left-leaning Colorado Springs Independent and the only two Democratic mayors in El Paso County endorsed Williams, a Republican, for Secretary of State because of how he ran the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.
Bartels added, “I’ve liked Wayne ever since he lent me $20 at the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities in 2008 after I left my billfold at the hotel. By the way, I paid it back.”
Jason Salzman just posted Bartels’ warm letter to colleagues at the Denver Post. On social media, the outpouring of gratitude to Bartels for her years of political coverage has been quite a thing to witness. But Colorado politicos won’t have to go far to find Bartels, whose new job working for Secretary of State Wayne Williams keeps her close at hand.
And as we discussed last October during his campaign for statewide office, Wayne Williams could use some PR expertise in his office. Williams’ disastrous appearance on FOX News with host Megyn Kelly, in which Kelly tried to keep pre-election panic over false rumors of “printing ballots” in Colorado alive while simultaneously correcting her previous report on the matter, could fairly be considered disqualifying from political office. Williams stumbled through a ridiculous scenario of mail ballot fraud that involved “family members and union bosses” intimidating mail ballot voters. The next day, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow eviscerated Williams (and Kelly) in a particularly glorious two minutes of cable news video you can watch above. Despite this, Williams coasted to victory in a statewide downballot race that was more or less a fait accompli from the beginning.
Bottom line: our sense of loss reckoning with the departure of the state’s most seasoned political reporter is sincere, as are our good luck wishes to Bartels in her new job. On the latter point, she’s going to need it.