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The Boss

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

The Trenton correspondent of the New York Times, C. Harold Levy, summed up April 2, 1939, some of the other triumphs of the Hague-Hoffman entente; they combined, he wrote, `to prevent the Clean Government legislators from financing relief through governmental economies, and they did it to bring about a referendum on a proposed constitu- tional amendment to legalize pari-mutuel betting on horse races. The resolution authorizing the referendum was introduced by a Hudson Democrat and passed with the aid of Hoffman Republicans.' The same forces joined to obtain the approval of the electorate for the amendment and later to put a bill through the legislature to empower the governor to appoint the members of the new racing commission, rather than to have them elected by the legislature, as the Clean Government group wished. When relief could not be financed through economies the Hague-Hoffman votes were marshaled in the legislature to put through a bond issue of $21,000,000, putting off once more a permanent solution of the problem.

The bipartisan noblesse oblige was so well known in New Jersey that United States Senator William H. Smathers, a Democrat, but not an enthusiastic Hague Democrat, proposed November 19, 1939, that, subject to the approval of Mayor Hague and President Roosevelt, Charles Edison, Secretary of the Navy, be the organization candidate for governor in 1940. `His nomination,' said the senator, `would put to sleep the propaganda circulating in the state that the Democratic and Republican parties will support Harold G. Hoffman, a Republican.' The senator's statement amused the editors of the New York Times, who commented, November 21: "'Horse-trading" between the friends of Mr. Hoffman and the friends of Mayor Hague has been common for years. What makes the senator's scheme peculiarly delicious is his intention to submit it to Mayor Hague, who is thus asked to change an old habit and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance....'


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