Could Author/Journalist T.R. Reid Become Colorado's Newest Legislator?

March 2009
downloadphoto70Currently, there aren't any best-selling authors in the Colorado legislature. Or PBS documentary filmmakers. Or former foreign bureau chiefs for the Washington Post. But that may change soon if T.R. Reid--who is all of the above--is appointed to the state House of Representatives later this month. Reid, a Democrat, says he's interested in taking over the House District 3 seat from Anne McGihon, who announced Monday that she'll resign on March 27 to join a prestigious Denver- and Washington, D.C.-based law firm. Until he retired last summer, Reid headed up Washington Post news bureaus in Tokyo, London, and Denver. Although he's lived in Colorado off-and-on since 1984, he moved to Denver permanently in 2002. But like McGihon, Reid's big issue is health-care reform--an interest he picked up while in Britain. Last year, Reid recounted to Charlie Rose about how soon after his family arrived in Britain, his daughter's pierced ear became infected. A short trip to the casualty ward (Brit-speak for emergency room) later, his daughter was cured--and hospital staff waved off his attempts to pay for it. "And I started thinking, 'Now here is a health-care system,'" Reid told Rose. "And it turns out, if you go around the world, there are a lot of good health care systems. And I said, 'I could write a book on this--Americans could learn.'" Last April, Reid hosted the PBS documentary "Sick Around The World," in which he compared the U.S. health-care system to other systems across the globe (spoiler: the American system doesn't match up so well). His latest book, "The Healing of America," which also looks at health care, is scheduled to hit bookstores in August. (Reid's best-known book is "The United States of Europe," about how the European Union is challenging American supremacy in the world.) Reid's quick to point out that he's not necessarily arguing for a single-payer, government health-care system. But the need for the U.S. to learn from other countries, he says, is enough to push him from the reporting side over to the policy-making side. And he thinks Colorado would be a perfect testing ground. "It's not Vermont; it's not Hawaii," he says. "It's a state that people would emulate, copy." But the Colorado legislature hasn't exactly been a national trendsetter on new ideas for health care--especially with the economy ailing. Earlier this year, House Speaker Terrance Carroll said Colorado is in a "holding pattern" on health-care reform. A vacancy committee will meet on March 26 to decide who will finish the last eight months of McGihon's term. And Reid isn't the only person thinking about filling in for McGihon in House District 3. Daniel Kagan, a Denver attorney, has already filed to run for the seat in 2010 and says he'll go for the vacancy appointment. Kagan, a Hillary Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention last summer, drew some international attention when he started a petition to keep Clinton's name in the convention's roll call vote. There was never any doubt that Barack Obama would beat Clinton in the roll call vote, but keeping her name in helped mollify anti-Obama feelings in the Clinton camp. Although House District 3 is heavily Democratic (McGihon won last November with 65 percent of the vote), Kagan says he's worried the district could fall into Republican hands next year if Democrats aren't careful: "We might end up with a [Democratic] member in that House district who is not prepared to do that hard work and the pushing that is necessary."