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The Early Career of Mayor Frank Hague

Chapter 3- Hague Fights the County Machine
Part 4

By Mark S. Foster

Copyright 1967

Web version, edited by GET NJ.
Copyright 2002

Having ably defended himself to his way of thinking, Hague immediately proceeded to make political capital out of the situation by portraying himself as the often-abused defender of the poor.

As everybody knows, I was connected with the Sheriff's office for twn years, my duty being to transport prisoners. If Mr. Record refers to that to prove that all my associates were thieves and crooks I say that all my associates were thieves and crooks, I say that all my associates in the First and Second wards are as god as the people he associates with. If he expects from me that when I go through the streets and meet some unfortunate with whom my duties had brought me into contact, I say I'll do the same thing all my life....

Next, he went after Record himself.

I am no coward. I don't fight as Record fights. I don't stab in the back. In all my political fights I always made my opponent fight in the open and that's what I'll make Record do....

Finally, he stood on his own record and the friends he had made and kept over the years:

I ask you gentlemen to judge me as you know me and find me. Let him come out and fight me or accuse me in the open and then I'll say it's fair. If I don't prove my case to you, then it is up to you on election day. Watch my defense, and if I don't prove myself guiltless of any charge of Mr. Record's then I want you to vote against me... I say, if the people of Jersey City will only sit as a jury and judge of the facts and if they decide I am not the proper man to elect, then I tell the people to vote against me....11

Though the evidence in the Red Dugan case received publicity until election day, Hague had won. Record failed to back up his charges. In all likelihood, it would probably have been futile if he had. Jersey Cit voters were hardened to scandal, and Hague's day-to-day helping hand at the ward level meant more to them than the remote charges of corruption by a rival politician. Timing also hurt Record's case. At the same time that the Dugan scandal was reviewed, a ballot box scandal against a former judge, Mark A. Sullivan, was uncovered. This helped divert attention from Hague. In addition, the World Series was taking place in late October, and the workingman's attention was more likely to be riveted to the sport page than the front page.

Hague was running hard for election, always fighting the people's fight, as he saw it. In a letter to the Secretary of the Eighth Ward Civic League, he wrote:

The Water Board needs progressive men, men whose backbones are not made up of the jellyfish order, men who will fight the people's fight upon the floor of that board.12

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