Last night’s coverage of the Super Tuesday primary results lacked one key thing – a pundit with experience covering an old-fashioned delegate fight.t. I placed a call to Jack Germond, the author of “Fat Man in a Middle Seat,” who is now retired and living in West Virginia, to get his perspective on the subject.
Germond, who spent the bulk of his career writing for the Washington Star and the Baltimore Sun, first covered the 1956 and 1960 primaries, before the advent of the system we have now. In 1960, he recalls, primaries were important but not determinative. “Kennedy needed to win the primaries to show that a Catholic could win the primaries,” he said, noting that Kennedy’s primary victories prompted the party bosses, such as Mayor Daley of Chicago, to send their support Kennedy’s way at the convention.
“There was a guy from one of the wire services who made it his business to know everything about the delegate count,” Germond said. “We relied upon him because over time we learned he was always right.”
This kind of reporting involved keeping a list of delegates and checking back with party insiders on what was happening with them. It’s gumshoe work that doesn’t present well on television. “It doesn’t lend itself to t.v.,” he said.
Ironically, if the battle on the Democrat side continues, the fight for super delegates will increasingly resemble the old party system where bosses could swing the election to one candidate or the other.