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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

Governor Hoffman was succeeded in 1938 by A. Harry Moore, elected for his third term over Doctor Lester H. Clee, a Clean Government Republican. He retained in office a number of Hoffman appointees, notable among whom was Bernard Lamb, Finance Commissioner. In establishing the office the legislature had intended the finance commissioner to be a sort of lieutenant-governor, responsible to the governor, having general charge of state finances. Hoffman had aroused some protest when he had appointed his campaign manager to the post; but a Democratic governor's retention of a Republican campaign manager, especially in such a confidential capacity, is inexplicable under ordinary partisan reasoning. Perhaps Mr. Lamb was needed for other purposes, say as liaison officer.

The election law of New Jersey provides that the state chairmen of each of the two political parties shall nominate to the governor two persons in each county as members of the county boards of elections. The law requires the governor to commission these persons by March first if the nominations are made to him during February. Mr. Clayton E. Freeman, Republican state chairman, appeared before the Young Committee and testified that he had submitted his list in proper form to Governor Moore on February 23, 1938. Only one of his nominees was commissioned before the first of March; later, the governor appointed nine persons not on the list, Hoffman Republicans. (Transcript, pp. 1577-1686.) In a test case the Supreme Court of New Jersey in October, 1938, ousted one of the governor's appointees. The court declared the statute to be constitutional and in its opinion said, `To insure honest elections it is essential that the county boards be made up at least by the choice of both powerful political parties.' (Driscoll v. Sakin, 121 N.J.L. at 228.) This attempt, therefore, to bring the election machinery of the state under the Hague-Hoffman alliance failed.


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