Archive for the '9News' Category

Fact Check:  Gardner opposed comprehensive immigration reform and backed government shutdown

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Update: After seeing the comments attacking Denver Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett, I asked him to comment on my blog post below. I regret not seeking comment from him before posting, but here’s what Plunkett said via email:

Gardner has called for acting on immigration reform. He stood and clapped when Obama asked in is SOTU in 2014 calling for Congress to get it done. He’s for a path to legal status. Yes, he says the border situation has to be secure, and I understand that some use that condition to dodge real reform, but Gardner has for the last two years been more friendly to the issue than others.

I include this piece from Mark Matthew’s in 2014 to show what I mean.

I get it that the use of the word “comprehensive” is too much of a buzzword and it isn’t specific enough. And were I writing specifically about immigration I would have had to have been more detailed. But in the context of a broader editorial about leadership styles, a 10,000-foot view comparison between Gardner’s approach and Cruz/Trump, Gardner is much different. Cruz called for deporting 12 million people in the country illegally, for example.

——-

In an editorial this weekend holding out U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner as the model of the way forward for the Republican Party, The Denver Post claimed Gardner “supports comprehensive immigration reform.”

In fact, Gardner opposed a 2103 comprehensive immigration reform bill, which died in the Republican-controlled House, after it passed by a bipartisan 68-32 vote in the U.S. Senate.

Gardner said at the time immigration reform has to start with border security, and he called for  “additional personnel on the border,” an “e-verify system,” and “additional security, a fence, you name it, on the border.”

Sounds much like Trump, even though The Post’s editorial, titled “How will the GOP rebuild after Trump,” aimed to contrast Gardner with Trump.

Since then, Gardner has called for immigration reform, but the issues section of his website doesn’t list immigration at all. There’s no indication that his position has changed or that he’s for comprehensive immigration reform, in any real sense of the term.

Rep. Mike Coffman, who also opposed the bipartisan U.S. Senate bill in 2013, uses the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform,” but his website says it “must first begin with the comprehensive enforcement of our immigration laws.”

To my way of thinking, if you demand undefined border enforcement first, leaving out the other elements of comprehensive immigration reform, like a path to citizenship, you’re really not for comprehensive immigration reform. It’s not comprehensive.

The Post also claimed Gardner was against the 2013 government shutdown. In fact, 9News’ political reporter Brandon Rittiman determined that in 2014, even though Gardner voted to end the shutdown once it started, “Gardner did vote in line with the Republican strategy that led to the government shutdown.”

Thanks to journalists who refuse to take the same non-answer for an answer

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Journalists take a lot of hits these days, but we’re all glad they’re out there asking questions.

The final days of the Republican senatorial primary give us an opportunity to thank journalists for asking candidates a question multipile times when the question isn’t answered.

This primary season, we added interviews with former State Rep. Jon Keyser to BigMedia’s video of reporters who refuse to take the same non-answer for a real answer. (The video also includes interviews with Rep. Mike Coffman and Sen. Cory Gardner. Tip of the hat to, among others, 9News’ Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman, former Fox 31’s Eli Stokols, and New7’s Marshall Zelinger and Marc Stewart.)

9News reporter doesn’t let Coffman hide behind and then contradict spokesperson

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Politicians like to trick us by hiding behind their spokespeople and then, if necessary, contradicting whatever their spokesperson said.

Case in point: Mike Coffman.

Yesterday Coffman put out a wishy washy statement about whether he’d support Donald Trump. But back in February, when Coffman himself was dodging reporters’ questions about Trump, Coffman’s spokesperson was adamant that Coffman would back Trump if Trump became the Republican nominee, as quoted by The Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning.

Good reporters won’t let a politician, like Coffman, shove out a new position without, at a minimum, explaining why the new statement contradicts that of his spokesperson.

Case in point: Brandon Rittiman.

He quoted Coffman’s statement about Trump yesterday and noted that it completely contradicted the words of his mouthpiece back in February. From Rittiman’s story:

In a statement, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) said he’s not sold on Trump yet, calling his party’s presumptive presidential nominee “divisive.”

“Trump has a long way to go to earn the support of many – me included,” Coffman wrote.

That statement contradicts what his campaign told the Colorado Statesman in February. The relevant portion of the article (which is behind a paywall) reads as follows:

“Will Mike Coffman support the Republican nominee over Bernie or Hillary?” said [Mike Coffman] campaign spokeswoman Kristin Strohm. “The answer is obviously yes. And he believes strongly it is going to be Marco Rubio.”

Other reporting on Coffman’s Trump statement ignored Strohm’s comment, but I’m sure there will be ample opportunities for reporters to ask Coffman to explain what’s going on here.

In multiple interviews, Glenn attacks Keyser for exploiting his Bronze Star for political gain

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Republican U.S. Senate Jon Keyser is “running on, ‘I have a Bronze Star,'” GOP U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn told 9News today, for a “Balance of Power” show to be aired fully on Sunday morning at 8:45 before Meet the Press:

In a teaser for the program, Glenn says, “Jon Keyser is a nice guy but does not have a lot of depth or breadth of experience. He’s running on ‘I have a Bronze Star.’” Glenn told 9News. “I respect him for that, but he didn’t even finish a term in the legislature.”

9News anchor Kyle Clark reported on the interview:

Glenn assailed Keyser for lacking a conservative voting record that would qualify him for the Senate.

“You can’t just go in there and drop your Bronze Star and say, ‘This is how I’m going to vote.’” Glenn said.

The Keyser campaign fired back sharply.

“Darryl Glenn is embarrassing himself and further proving why he will never be a United States Senator,” said Keyser spokesman Matt Connelly.

Glenn, who won a GOP election Saturday to appear on the Republican primary ballot, presented a similar version of his attack on Keyser on KVOR radio in Colorado Springs April 11, stating:

Glenn: “You hear a lot of people pandering out there, saying great things.  And I’m personally offended at Mr. Keyser.  He needs to stop campaigning on the fact that he has a Bronze Star.  I love the fact – I honor him because he has that.  But I represent, here, five military installations.  I have people on my own team that have that.  And the one thing they don’t do is campaign on it. These people do things that most people don’t want to do.  But you don’t use it for personal benefit.  So he needs to dial it back!”

Listen to Glenn on KVOR radio April 11:

Did 9News err in limiting its U.S. Senate debate to eight GOP candidates?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Last week, Denver Post reporter John Frank wrote that 9News’ “announcement of the first televised debate in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate is sure to create controversy: With more than a dozen candidates in the race, who will make the debate stage?”

9News stated it will include any “viable” candidate in its April 5 debate, as determined by a 5-member panel of political analysts.

“The panel may also draw scrutiny,” Frank suggested, “as the members represent establishment politics in a field with a number of outsider candidates.”

Frank swiftly outlined how each member of the panel is connected with establishment politics.

Along these lines, one detail I stumbled on is that fact that one panel member, Kelly Mahar, has close ties to former Rep. Jon Keyser, having joined with him to form “iGOP,” a “slate of young, tech savvy Republicans” who ran for Republican National Convention (RNC) delegate slots in 2012. Mahar is also a 9News commentator.

In any event, I asked Rittiman to respond to the criticism that in deciding between a grassroots and a more establishment GOP candidate, 9News’ establishment-oriented panel might be biased toward the establishment candidate. He said:

Rittiman: “We selected people [for the panel] who know what it takes to mount a successful Senate campaign and see if a candidate has anything to show besides filing an FEC form. We want people on stage who have a shot of gaining access to the primary ballot, which takes some level of organized support by this point in the process.

By now, when we’re this close to the state convention, the candidates should be able to point to something. Grassroots support is great. Show us the grassroots support you have. That’s fair game.

Just because we have some folks who have been closer to politics and know what it takes to run a campaign involved in the selection process doesn’t mean that those people wouldn’t take it very seriously if any of the candidates were to show us some metric or measure of grassroots support. We can all recognize that when we see it.

I’d again stress that we will allow any ballot-qualified candidates who haven’t dropped out to participate in our June 7 primary debate—and that we are allowing all candidates to submit up to two minutes of video to be published on 9NEWS.com and mentioned during the debate.

Yesterday, 9News announced that the panel chose eight candidates to participate in the debate. Wouldn’t voters want all of them to go at each other?

Ideally yes, but there are limits. What would all those Republican presidential candidates have looked like on the same stage, with no B-Team debate to siphon some of them off? Pretty bad. A over-crowded debate doesn’t serve the public interest. Colorado faces a similar situation.

So 9News did the right thing to limit the number of candidates, and a “viability” standard, in the absence of polling, makes sense.

You can argue that television station should have put some non-establisment folks on the selection panel — like former Rep. Tom Tancredo, former GOP Chair and KLZ talk-show host Steve Curtis, or Tea Party leader and lawyer Randy Corporon. Some people like that, with political experience.

But I don’t think it mattered. Judging from the candidates selected (see below) yesterday, 9News struck  a balance between the voters’ need to hear from 1) candidates who have a demonstrable hope of winning and 2) from the underdog candidates who deserve to be heard. It’s a tough call when you have so many odd candidates vying against each other.

9News’ announcement yester of the debate lineup seemed to reflect a fair process:

“The lineup for the debate is not yet final. Campaigns who were not invited have been given a deadline of March 31 to provide any additional evidence of viability for the panel to consider.

The panel unanimously decided that the campaigns of Charlie Ehler, Jerry Eller, Michael Kinlaw, and Donald Rosier did not demonstrate a viable path to accessing the June primary ballot.

Ehler and Rosier did not provide materials for the panel to review by the Monday deadline.

Greg Lopez, who had announced a run, told 9NEWS he’s dropped out and is endorsing Natividad in the race.”

 

 

TrumpWatch: Where Colorado Republicans Stand on Trump

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

With Trump’s wins last night, the question of whether Colorado Republicans will vote for the mogul, if he’s the nominee, became even more relevant, as we inch toward the Republican Party’s July 18 national convention in Cleveland.

Here’s an update of my handy TrumpWatch guide for reporters tracking the local GOP response to Trump.

The mogul still apparently has only one GOP elected official who, based on public statements, affirmatively likes him and would vote for him as nominee. That’s State Sen. Laura Woods, the Republican from Westminster (though her candidate-of-choice is Ted Cruz). You recall, Woods “narrowed” her choices to Cruz and Trump after the GOP debate in Boulder.

Other high-profile Republicans in Colorado don’t share Woods’ enthusiasm. Even a brash politician, like former CO Secretary of State Scott Gessler, is turned off by Trump. Asked last week by 9News’ political reporter Brandon Rittiman if he’s “comfortable with Trump being the face of the Republican Party,” Gessler said:

Gessler: “My sense with Trump is, he certainly could beat Hillary Clinton, but he could end up being a complete disaster. Obviously, he’s been a lot ruder and cruder than other candidates to date. Does that alienate a lot of the electorate? I think there’s a really high probability of that. And his style is certainly not my style. And that’s in part why I’m not real comfortable with him.”

Still, as you can see below, I can only find a couple former or current Republican elected officials or candidates who will say, flat out, that they won’t support Trump.

One of them is former State Sen. Shawn Mitchell, who wrote on Facebook last week:

Mitchell: “I can imagine Hillary representing me on the world stage before I can stomach His Blondness performing on my behalf. I won’t vote for her, but I will not vote for him. Supreme Court be damned. America has recovered from worse, and if we don’t recover, God is in charge.”

A larger number of prominent Republicans have said they’ll back Trump as nominee.

Here’s the latest summary.

Elected Republicans Who Are Declining to Say If They’ll Back Trump

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (though he called Trump a “fraud.”)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman(But campaign spokeswoman Kristin Strohm told the Colorado Statesman Feb. 2, “Will Mike Coffman support the Republican nominee over Bernie or Hillary? The answer is obviously yes.”)

State House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso.

 

Elected Officials Who Actively Like Trump

State Sen. Laura Woods has said Trump is one of her two favorite prez candidates (here at 25 min 50 sec), but she’s backing Cruz.

 

Elected Officials Who Will Back Trump, if He’s the Nominee.

State Sen. President Bill Cadman.

Sen. Cory Gardner (even through called Trump a “buffoon.” ) (even though only answered after being asked seven times) (even though he seems to be backtracking.)

Rep. Doug Lamborn.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton.

 

Former Elected Officials Who Will Back Trump, if He’s the Nominee

Former Colorado Senate President John Andrews.

Former Rep. Bob Beauprez.

 

Former Elected Officials Who Actively Like Trump

Former State Rep. Spencer Swalm is an “out-of-the-closet” endorser.

 

Former Elected Officials Who Will Not Vote for Trump

Former State Sen. Shawn Mitchell.

 

Candidates

These GOP U.S. Senate candidates told the Statesman they’d back Trump as nominee: businessman Robert Blaha, activist Charlie Ehler, Ryan Frazier, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, former CSU athletics director Jack Graham, former Rep. Jon Keyser, El Paso County Commissioner Peg Littleton, and State Sen. Tim Neville.

Casper Stockham, who’s challenging U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, says he will vote for Trump if he’s the nominee.

 

Notable Republicans Who Think “We May Be Seeing the Final months of the Existence of the Republican Party”

Former Rep. Bob Schaffer

 

Please send me any additions to this list.

Is Coffman sorry he called Obama a “recruiting tool” for terrorists?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

Last month, Rep. Mike Coffman wrote on Facebook that Obama is the “real recruiting tool” for terrorists, not GITMO.

Coffman: “President Obama wants to close GTMO because he thinks it’s a recruiting tool for terrorists – the real recruiting tool is a President who seems more concerned about protecting the rights of terrorists rather than defeating them and protecting the American people.”[emphasis added]

Yet it flew under the radar of Denver media, and Coffman never apologized for the recruiting tool comment.

But it seems, judging from a KOA interview today, that Coffman himself apparently believes that the comment was wrong.

On KOA this morning, Coffman said:

Coffman: This president refuses to acknowledge that we are a nation at war not of our own choosing and refuses even to identify those who have declared war on us. … He says Guantanamo Bay is a recruiting tool for terrorists. What is a recruiting tool for terrorists is having a commander in chief that projects weakness. [emphasis added]

It’s one thing to say Obama’s policies are a recruiting too. It’s another to write that the President himself is a recruiting tool for terrorists.

Does Coffman really believe that the “real recruiting tool” is the President of the United States?

Fact Check: Medicaid expansion under Obamacare is not responsible for Colorado budget woes

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

A key component of Obamcare is to reduce the number of uninsured  by allowing more people to qualify for Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for low-income people. In Colorado, some 300,000 people enrolled in Medicaid as part of Obamcare–and the federal government picked up the tab.

But that fact didn’t stop Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs) from joining conservative Jon Caldara Monday in blaming Colorado’s Medicaid expansion under Obamacare for Colorado’s budget woes.

Caldara (at 2 min 30 seconds): In the last few years…Medicaid enrollment has gone up 350 percent. Do I have that right?

Cadman: Absolutely.

Caldara: And because of that, it’s squeezing out other things. [Emphasis added]

Cadman: Yes, Yes… we do have one program that has grown 350 percent in that same amount of time, and if you look back just one year ago, the growth was only 280 percent. So think of the growth in just the last year. And at the peak, about a year and a half ago, we were adding about 14,000 people per month to this program. And you can call this an offshoot of Obamacare, because that’s really what it is.

Why Cadman gave the eager “yes, yes” to Caldara is a mystery because Obamacare isn’t “squeezing out other things.”

While it’s true that Colorado’s Medicaid costs are increasing, though by less than in previous years, the reason, as I expalin here, is mostly due to the costs of caring for the growing numbers of elderly and disabled people.

Cadman’s baseless scapegoating of Obamacare is echoed in the official Twitter feed of the Colorado State Republicans.

Colorado Senate GOP (@ColoSenGOP) sent out this tweet, linking to a chart of state and federal Medicaid expenditures: “Maybe Colo could afford FullDayK if #Dems weren’t pouring every spare $ into Obamacare #choices #copolitics #coleg pic.twitter.com/zrS1L6v5KO.”

Cadman repeatedly talks, vaguely, as if Colorado is footing the full bill for the Obamacare expansion of Colorado Medicaid. In a 9News interview last month, Cadman stated that “we added nearly $300 million to [the Medicaid] program in Health and Human Services last year. The year before that, we added $250 million to that program. The year before that, we added another $250 million.”

If the “we” he refers to is Colorado, which is likely because he also talked about how Medicaid was squeezing out other state programs, then he’s again got his numbers wrong. Here are the actual increases in Colorado’s contribution to Medicaid  the past few years.

Notice that the increases actually went down the past two years–contrary to the Cadman’s implication in multiple interviews.

FY10-11 – $128 million
FY11-12 – $420 million
FY12-13 – $154 ,million
FY13-14 – $214 million
FY14-15 – $285 million
FY15-16 – $155 million
FY16-17 Request – $136 million

Again, these increases have nothing to do with Obamacare, but they are real increases, mostly due to serving growing numbers of old and disabled people, that the legislature has to deal with, along with other funding needs, like roads, K-12 education, and higher education. And, oh, there’s next year’s projected budget shortfall of about $250 million.

Yet, in multiple interviews, Cadman blames Medicaid for budget shortfalls, telling 9News, for example:

Cadman: “We have the money” but Medicaid is “demanding literally every dollar that could have been spent on virtually everything else.”

Literally every dollar!

So Cadman is, either intentionally or unintentionally, using misinformation about Medicaid to dodge questions about how to fund (or cut) state priorities.

Bottom line: If Cadman were doing his job, rather than blaming Obamacare or Medicaid, he’d be telling reporters what real-life option, or combination of them, he advocates for dealing with Colorado’s budget woes. (Cadman’s office did not offer a comment to me.)

One option, among others, is to turn the hospital provider fee into an TABOR-defined enterprise, freeing up about $370 million in TABOR rebates for state programs. Another option is to lay out specific budget cuts, including Medicaid cuts. Others would require voter approval, like a TABOR timeout or a tax increases. Cadman could advocate for an increase in government fees, including an increase in Medicaid co-pays, an idea floated by Cadman.

And there are other options, from the left and right, but whatever they are, the budget problems Colorado faces are not caused by Obamacare.

The missing follow-up question: Are Republicans proposing to cut Medicaid?

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs) told 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman last month that Medicaid spending is siphoning money from “every other program,” including schools and roads.

As he told 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman:

Cadman: “[Democrats] have ignored the needs and demands of about five million people to specifically support one program, and it cannibalizes every other program. They’ve ignored the Constitution and put K-12 money into this program. I mean, they’ve ignored the roads, and put money into this program.

Cadman and other Republicans have made similar statements in multiple interviews.

The missing follow-up question in all these interviews is, does he propose to cut Medicaid? It sounds a lot like he is, but he doesn’t say so directly.

Cadman: “What I am suggesting is, when you have something that is supposed to be the safety net, you should protect it for those who need it the most,” Cadman told Rittiman, when asked if he wanted to eliminate Medicaid. “And if you grow it beyond that, and you are creating a program that is, one, cannibalizing the other programs and, two, has no funding source, you are creating a conflict.”

So, clearly, reporters should ask Cadman, whose spokesman did not provide a comment to me, if he thinks Medicaid, has grown beyond the “safety net” it’s “supposed to be.”

If he thinks so, he could, for example, advocate changing the formula for qualifying for the Medicaid. Currently, to be eligible for Colorado’s Medicaid program, families of four must make less than about $32,000 a year and individuals less than $16,000. Over a million people are enrolled state-wide. Keep in mind that about 75 percent of people who receive Medicaid are working already.

But before anyone starts throwing poor people off Medicaid, as Cadman seems to be proposing, or charging them more, he should be clear that the driving force behind the growing state costs of Medicaid aren’t coming from adding new people to the program.

About 300,000 people were added to Colorado’s Medicaid program under Obamacare, but 100 percent  of their coverage was picked up by the federal government (which gradually decreases to 90 percent in 2022). With exceptions for children, the cost of non-Obamacare Medicaid is split evenly between the state and the feds.

But even with the feds covering most (but not all) new enrollees, the cost of Medicaid to the state is increasing, by $136 million in this year’s budget proposal and $155 million last year.

Why? It’s largely due to the growing numbers of elderly and disabled people enrolled in Medicaid, who are expensive to take care of, according to Rich Jones Director of Policy and Research at the Bell Policy Center. The two cost drivers feed each other because, as you’d expect, the more elderly you have the more disabled people you eventually get.

Jones points to state data showing that about 82 percent of the proposed $102.8 million increase in state funding for Medicaid premiums (a subset of this year’s $136 million increase) is going to people with disabilities and the elderly.

In the current year, Jones points out, 12 percent of the people enrolled in Colorado’s Medicaid program were elderly and disabled, but they accounted for 42 percent of the costs of the program. Last year, it was 11 percent of enrollees and 40 percent of the costs. Covering the elderly and disabled under Medicaid requires seven times more funding than covering a child and three to four times more than an adult.

“I think this shows that our aging population and the cost of long-term care is a key factor driving the Medicaid budget,” said Jones. “A lot of these folks are middle class seniors who have spent down their assets and must rely on Medicaid to cover their long-term care costs.”

So an efficient way for Cadman to cut Medicaid might be to somehow cut down on the specific people, the elderly and disabled, who are the root cause of the program’s increasing costs.

I’m joking of course. Cadman wouldn’t want to do this.

But, seriously, what would he cut?

Here’s more of Cadman’s interview on 9News’ Balance of Power Jan. 17, 2016.

Cadman: We have the money. We have, again, a record budget. The reality is, where is it being spent? And what has never been discussed, what doesn’t get brought up, what you don’t hear in the State of the State speech [by Gov. John Hickenlooper] is, by the way, we added nearly $300 million to a program in Health and Human Services last year. The year before that, we added $250 million to that program. The year before that, we added another $250 million. And this goes back to when Gov. Ritter was here. Gov. Hickenlooper has picked up the mantel. They have ignored the needs and demands of about five million people to specifically support one program, and it cannibalizes every other program. They’ve ignored the constitution and put K-12 money into this program. I mean, they’ve ignored the roads, and put money into this program. We’ve come to the table year after year after year, and I’ve been here a while, and I still have the notes of over ten years of saying, ‘Here’s how we can start managing some of the growth in this program while we’re helping to prioritize funds for other programs. It’s completely fallen on deaf ears. We’re always at the table.

Rittiman: Are you talking about Medicaid?

Cadman: We’re talking about Medicaid and the expansion of Medicaid, and all the subsequent programs in it. And it’s a big complicated issue, but it is demanding literally every dollar that could have been spend on virtually everything else. And when you share that with people, and the history, and you show them how the money’s been spent, everyone’s always in shock, because it’s always been used and it’s never being talked about.

Rittiman: Are you suggesting getting rid of Medicaid?

Cadman: Nope. I’m not suggesting getting rid of Medicaid. But what I am suggesting is, when you have something that is supposed to be the safety net, you should protect it for those who need it the most. And if you grow it beyond that, and you are creating a program that is, one, cannibalizing the other programs and, two, has no funding source, you are creating a conflict. And as soon as you have that, you can promote a crisis. That’s exactly what’s been happening.

Rittiman: How do you change that?..

Cadman: The math of growing this program with no borders has never worked, but the chose to grow it anyway. So maybe that’s a great question to go back to the speaker [of the state House, Democrat Dickey Lee Hullinghorst] and say, ‘Why have you supported this knowing it’s doing this to the budget, since you’ve been here, I believe this is her eighth year.’

Fox 31 Denver fills Stokols’ political reporter position

Monday, January 25th, 2016

In the nine long months after political reporter Eli Stokols left Fox 31 Denver, it looked like the local TV station’s surprising reputation as a go-to source for political news, cultivated by over a decade of obsessive work by Stokols, was going to be completely lost.

Serious politics coverage at Fox 31 essentially vanished overnight. It was an unbelievable fall, and depressing. (Not to say Fox 31 didn’t have some good pieces and journalists, but the unfilled hole was huge.) But on the positive side, it showed the impact one talented reporter can have on a news outlet, especially a TV station, and on an entire state.

That’s why it’s great that Fox 31 has hired a reporter, Joe St. George, to take over Stokols’ political beat, showing that the station’s commitment to politics coverage didn’t start and stop with Stokols–as can be the case at local TV outlets.

Joe St. George arrived at the station last month after covering politics in Virginia for over three years and, before that, for a stint in Iowa. So he’s got nothing comparable to Stokols’ experience, but he seems to be hard-working and, jeez, all of the people of Colorado are glad to see him given the chance, though they don’t know it.

“Joe’s passion is in political reporting,” said Fox 31 News Director Holly Gauntt.  “He did a lot of good political reporting at his former station and has a good reputation there. It’s rare. He’s one of those guys who breathes, eats, lives, sleeps politics, so I snatched him up as soon as I found out about him.”

Gauntt says it will be tough for St. George to replace Stokols, whom she described as “the best political reporter in the state. (It’s true St. George is no Eli Stokols, but he’s closer to Stokols than Dan Quayle was to Jack Kennedy.)

St. George’s “number one priority” will be politics, including, eventually, the type of in-the-weeds blogging produced by Stokols. St. George will do that once he develops the contacts and knowledge required, said Gauntt

“I think politics is hugely important,” said Gauntt in response to my saying that Fox 31 deserves a ton of credit for hiring a new political reporter and giving Stokols the space to focus on politics when he was here–because many local TV outlets don’t have any political reporters at all. “Some of it’s not for broadcast. You can’t get too far into the weeds, but that’s the beauty of websites and blogs and all of that.”

For his part, St. George says he’s “very lucky” to be covering politics for a local TV station in his third swing state.

“I would never have left Virginia if I didn’t have an equally exciting opportunity to cover politics in a state like Colorado,” he said.

St. George has “followed Eli’s work for years” and hopes to work on multiple platforms like Stokols did.

“While not every politics story is a great TV story, it has a place online if it doesn’t have a place on television,” said St. George, who hopes to start blogging soon. “I consider myself not just a TV journalist but a multi-screen journalist.”

Stokols hoped his former station wouldn’t drop serious political reporting after his departure.

“I’m glad to see that Fox31 remains committed to covering Colorado politics and policy debates in its newscast and across additional platforms,” wrote Stokols when asked for a comment about St. George’s hire. “I look forward to following Joe’s coverage from afar.”

Toward the end of his run in Denver, Stokols started an interview show that aired some of the most dramatic TV news video of the 2014 election in Colorado. Gauntt has no immediate plans to launch such a show (which would compete with interview-type shows aired by local TV news competitors 9News and, now, Channel 7). But she’s open to the possibility down the road, she said.