Opinion: I was a reporter covering elections. Now I’m a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State. Here’s what I’ve learned.
We served pizza at noon on Election Day at the office. Noon. That’s not right.
What I’ve Learned
Denverite invites thoughtful people to submit op-eds about Denver. In the What I’ve Learned series, we’ve already heard from an experienced costume maker, an Uber driver and the owner of a cat cafe. We’ve also heard about the language used during the presidential election cycle — and after it.
By Lynn Bartels
Over the years, I’ve covered various presidential elections, from candidate appearances to election night parties.
I remember Republican women sobbing in an Albuquerque hotel elevator in 1992 after Democrat Bill Clinton unseated the first President Bush.
Colorado Democrats experienced such mixed emotions in 2004: crushed that Sen. John Kerry didn’t unseat Bush’s son, President George W. Bush, but over the moon that they won a U.S. Senate seat and control of the state Legislature for the first time since the 1960 election.
This election was definitely different and not just because Donald J. Trump defied the odds. It marked the first time in 35 years I wasn’t the reporter asking the questions — I was the government spokesperson trying to answer them.
I went to work for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams last year after taking a buyout from The Denver Post. Here’s what I’ve learned since seeing life from a different side of the street:
1. It’s not a good idea to tell your boss, “Hold on. I answer the press’ calls first.”
2. Or maybe it is.
3. County clerks are the hardest working people in show biz.
4. Sometimes I feel so handcuffed when it comes to Twitter.
5. Although I did send out that picture of all those empty boxes from the anti-fracking folks. That was an interesting week.
6. A restaurant in Eads has incredible patty melts. The Kiowa County clerk was delighted at my find.
7. Ink still runs through my veins. When I hear something interesting/unusual/juicy, I ask, “Can I tell the press?” — although two reporters passed on my tip that Oprah Winfrey voted in Colorado in 2016, and not in Illinois. (She’s a San Miguel County resident.)
8. The tiny little dots at the top left of your phone will tell you if you have cell service. Wayne had to teach me that as we headed from Walsenburg to Westcliffe. He was pretty horrified at my ignorance.
9. If you refute Donald Trump’s claims about election fraud, you will be widely quoted. “Donald Trump has been tweeting about elections being rigged, but he offers no evidence of such. I can say on Twitter I’m a supermodel, but that doesn’t make it so,” was my comment.
10. Amendment 41 is even worse than anyone imagined.
11. Some reporters will write a story about the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office without ever calling the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.
12. Campaign finance is no easier on this side of the fence, but now I have the direct numbers of the folks in the know.
13. Being a reporter is much harder than being a spokeswoman. I never wake up and think, “Oh, I hope I didn’t get beat today by the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office.”
14. We served pizza at noon on Election Day at the office. Noon. That’s not right.
15. I made the right decision.
Denverite asked me to submit a one-sentence bio, but I’d rather you read my blog instead: https://bartels-on.sos.state.co.us/.
Denverite invites thoughtful people to submit op-eds about Denver. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.