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Politics reporter's fans take to social media

Chris Lehman announced Monday that he was no longer with Oregon Public Broadcasting, after more than a decade reporting on politics for the public radio station.

OREGON CAPITAL INSIDER - A photograph of Chris Lehman, a reporter formerly with Oregon Public Broadcasting, on Feb. 2, 2017, when he was reelected as president of the Oregon Capitol press corpsSALEM — Fans of veteran politics reporter Chris Lehman took to social media earlier this week to express shock and sadness at his sudden departure from Oregon Public Broadcasting Nov. 17.

Lehman's reports from the basement of the Oregon Capitol in Salem had been a staple of the radio station's politics beat coverage for 11 years.

"It will be very strange not hearing your voice on OPB," wrote Jeff Aeschliman, a Salem-based grassroots specialist at State Farm Insurance, in a tweet. "This is a sad day for all OPB listeners."

As a journalist, Lehman was fair and professional, immediately recognized and flagged political ploys for what they were and possessed a flare for quirky features about the Capitol, politics and politicians, his admirers said. He was admired by fellow political reporters, sources and listeners.

TWITTER - Former OPB reporter Chris Lehman broke the news Nov. 20 that he was no longer covering politics for the public radio station."You will be deeply missed," wrote political blogger Carla Axtman in a tweet. "Your work has been insightful, thoughtful and NECESSARY. Thank you."

Another OPB listener from Medford wrote in a tweet that he never knew where Lehman stood on political issues.

"Highest praise for a reporter," the listener added.

Former Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum wrote that Lehman's departure "is a tremendous loss for all who care about government and politics in Oregon."

The "loss of a terrific OPB reporter based in Salem leaves a great void in the Capitol press corps," she continued.

"I will miss your talent and professionalism," wrote Oregon Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick in a tweet. "As a recovering journalist myself, I can say with conviction that you are one of the best. Good luck in your future endeavors."

Lehman had served as the unpaid president of the Oregon Capitol press corps since 2013. He had just been reelected to the position in early February. More than a dozen reporters belong to the association of politics reporters and have offices in the Capitol, where Lehman was the go-to person for questions about building operations, protocol and political strategy, among other things.

As reported by Oregon Capital Insider correspondent Dick Hughes, OPB declined to comment on Lehman's separation from the public radio station.