A day after the announcement that the fervently right-wing swinging Sean Paige is departing the Colorado Springs Gazette, the newspaper’s short-timer editorial page editor appears to be … on vacation. Not due back in the office until Monday, Paige was not immediately available to talk about his post-Gazette plans – though he reportedly is joining a yet-to-be-named Colorado Springs think tank.
But on Thursday George Lewis, the Gazette‘s official gun guy, er, “Second Amendment Champion,” chatted with Colorado Confidential and confirmed that, after 27 years with the Freedom Communications newspaper chain, he has officially applied to be Paige’s permanent replacement. “I’d be a fool not to,” says Lewis.
Lewis also weighed in on a few other items of interest – like how Paige is not the Neanderthal that people sometimes make him out to be.
There’s more.Lewis, 51, is currently the editorial page copy editor and occasional editorial writer for the Gazette, a 97,000-circulation daily newspaper that is technically libertarian in philosophy but often tilts far right. It is the only daily newspaper covering the conservative stronghold of Colorado Springs, and its editorials madden, gratify and sometimes plain entertain, the masses.
Before Paige came on board five years ago he had enjoyed a colorful career as aide to both John Sununu and Alan Keyes, as well as a stint as a columnist at the Washington Times. He replaced Dan Njegomir, who landed briefly at the Bighorn Center for Public Policy, then went to work for Bob Schaffer, and now puts in his time with the state Senate Republicans.
Lewis, who previously worked as a paste-up dude at the paper, worked for both Paige and Njegomir. He’s got a history degree, and likes to shoot birds and antelope in Wyoming. Besides himself, Lewis doesn’t know who else has applied to fill the editorial page editor position; in a note to readers this week, the newspaper’s editor, Jeff Thomas, indicated that, the “Op-ed pages won’t change without Paige at the helm.”
Colorado Confidential: Who do you like better, Dan or Sean?
George Lewis: No comment.
Colorado Confidential: There’s a rumor that the Gazette‘s editorial page really likes Congressman Doug Lamborn. Is that true?
George Lewis: If that’s the case be sure to read tomorrow’s (Friday’s) editorial.
Colorado Confidential: Are you going to take Lamborn to task for wanting to make Pikes Peak a national monument?
George Lewis: You’ll just have to buy a newspaper.
Colorado Confidential: What’s the best thing Sean’s done since he’s been there?
George Lewis: Gosh, I don’t know.
Colorado Confidential: Is there an editorial that has appeared in the Gazette that you’ve disagreed with, say, in the past month?
George Lewis: I can’t really think of one.
Colorado Confidential: Has Sean been a good boss?
George Lewis: Yes, he’s encouraged me in my writing. We all need encouragement.
Colorado Confidential: Does he have a bowl of chocolates for visitors? Does he bring in pastries?
George Lewis: No bowl of chocolates, but he does, in fact, bring things in that I shouldn’t be eating, like cookies.
Colorado Confidential: Have you ever seen him cry?
George Lewis: No.
Colorado Confidential: What would people be surprised to know about Sean?
George Lewis: Probably that you can sit down and have a conversation with him. You should see the mail we get. Have you seen the online blog?
Colorado Confidential: So people would be surprised to learn he’s not a Neanderthal?
George Lewis: I believe that is correct. He has two eyebrows; they don’t attach together. We’re not talking Leonid Brezhnev.
Five years ago, when Paige was on his way to Colorado Springs, Lewis was asked if the rumors preceding his new boss were true. Was Paige a babe? Back then, Lewis said he didn’t know. This is what he reported, this week:
Colorado Confidential: So is Paige a babe?
George Lewis: I generally don’t try to check out guys on that level. Not that I’m a homophobe, by the way. I have actually come out not against, but maybe in favor of, homosexual marriage. Why shouldn’t they be as miserable as the rest of us?
Spoken like a true libertarian.
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org