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The Early Career of Mayor Frank Hague

Chapter 4 - Hague’s Career at its Nadir
Part 6

By Mark S. Foster

Copyright 1967

Web version, edited by GET NJ.
Copyright 2002

Wittpenn was furious. Had he been able to deliver the endorsement of his county to Wilson, he might well have been the unchallenged leader in the county. Wilson might also have backed Wittpenn for the governorship the following year in return. As events turned out, Wilson owed Wittpenn nothing, and the latter's career was all downhill after that. Wittpenn saw Hague as the focal point of all of his problems. He bitterly criticized Hague. In Wilsonian language, he called Hague a "boss," saying also that the days of the "bosses and the old machines is now over."17 To the charges that he was a traitor to his party, Hague replied:

Why don't he specify where I was the traitor? I was only elected one day when the Mayor tried to get control of the Street and Water Board. He tried to do this by getting the other four members on his side and leaving me out in the cold. He thought I couldn't get control of the county committee while I was actively fighting for his side. So he turned me down hard. He played the traitor."18

Hague was not content merely to avoid endorsing Wilson through the county committee. With two months left before the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore, Hague headed an active anti-Wilson campaign of his own. Soon rumors were circulating to the effect that Hauge and Prout were ordering street cleaners to attend anti-Wilson campaign rallies under threats of losing their jobs for failure to attend. Nevertheless, no proof of these charges was ever given, and despite Hague's efforts, Wilson received the nomination in June. However, Wilson had to fight for the nomination, not winning until the 46th ballot.19 Hague was smart eough to know when he was beaten and he soon endorsed his party's nominee. The Jersey Journal editorialized:

Commissioner Hague is quick to see the advisability of getting on the Wilson bandwagon. The chief advantage of promptness in a matter of this kind is that it lessens the danger of reaching the bandwagon too late...after it is full.20

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