Half century of election reporting

Mary Lahammer and her father Gene Lahammer

The man I admire most is marking 50 years in the election business.  My 77-year-old father, Gene Lahammer, will be back in the Associated Press newsroom tomorrow night in Minneapolis helping call the official election winners.  When it comes to the governor’s race his sage instincts lead him to say “I think it’ll be pretty close, closer than the polls show.”  The elder Lahammer started with the AP in Sioux Falls in November of 1960 with the Kennedy-Nixon race.  He worked at the Capitol in St. Paul as a reporter for more than three decades before retiring in 1994.

Former Capitol reporters Stan Turner and Gene Lahammer

Every election since, Lahammer has come out of retirement to work into the wee hours of the morning.   He says “It’s the most exhilarating place in the world on election night.  It’s the nerve center of the state with more information at your fingertips than anyone.”  The most memorable close election in a half-century for Lahammer was the Coleman-Franken Senate race in 2008.  He and the AP did not call that race when other news outlets did because they determined it was too close to call.

Overall my dad is the most fair, ethical and non-partisan person I know.  He says in the last 50 years politics has “gotten nastier, more partisan; civility is almost a lost art.”  Helping serve on the Star Tribune editorial board in retirement Lahammer has championed moderates who seek bi-partisans solutions.  I always say my only bias is towards politicians who work hard, tell the truth and have some smarts.  That probably comes from years of following in my father’s enormous footsteps.

Gene Lahammer and Lew Ferguson

Mr. Lahammer won’t be the only experienced APer coming out of retirement to work election night.  Former Minneapolis AP Sports Editor Lew Ferguson will also be marking his 50th year covering elections.  He’s been called out of retirement in Kansas.  Lahammer and Ferguson were rookie reporters together in 1960 and remain lifelong friends.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Ed Stych on 11/01/2010 - 04:25 pm.

    I worked a few elections with Gene at the AP. He was fantastic to work with and unmatched in his Minnesota election knowledge. He understands the precinct demographics so well, that he knows when it’s time to call races and when it’s time to be patient. Glad to hear he gets another opportunity to work this November!

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