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Boss Hague
King Hanky-Panky of Jersey

Part 5

By Jack Alexander

Originally appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on October 26, 1940
Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2002

Edison’s Republican adversary is State Senator Robert C. Hendrickson

Edison is expected to run ahead of the national ticket because of the glamour of the Edison name in Jersey. If Cromwell doesn’t run far behind it, a political miracle will have occurred. Cromwell’s Republican opponent, Sen. W. Warren Harbour, stands to benefit by the anti-Hague vote in the state and to receive the bulk of the labor vote, which normally would go to the New Deal candidate. In the Senate, Harbour has cut across party lines and has supported New Deal labor legislation. Only a top-heavy Democratic victory can drag Cromwell to the tape ahead of Harbour, and unless this unlooked-for event takes place, Hague’s prestige will suffer heavily.

The anomalous politico-social situation which exists was epitomized by a little-publicized side light of the recent alfresco gathering of the clans at Sea Girt. Instead of lunching on sandwiches in a tent with the other politicos, Hague and a few chosen muscle men were driven at noon to Spring Lake, where they were guests at a select buffet lunch in an English-style castle in the center of a parked estate. This was Boxwood Manor, one of the summer homes of Mrs. Stotesbury, who is Cromwell’s mother. Mrs. Stotesbury takes an active interest in her son’s political career and she laid out a lavish menu for his red-necked associates. With all the wiles of an accomplished hostess, she made Hague the focus of attention, once reproving him in a gay, mock manner for “making my son work so hard.” This, apparently, was a reference to a marathon of speechmaking which had taken Cromwell all over the state and to his political duties at Sea Girt. The latter labors included shaking hands with thousands of abashed proletarians, all of whom were urged to “call me Jimmy.”

Hague entered happily into the spirit of the Stotesbury luncheon. He ate two plates of creamed chicken and went around pressing ladles of it upon his bashful henchmen. He seemed to be spiritually uplifted as the car sped back to Sea Girt for the speeches.

Jersey’s Republicans, who are uniting for a supreme effort to topple Hague in the coming election, are not depending upon his social follies for assistance. Since last summer they have been directing embarrassing blows at him in the hope of reducing the “normal” Democratic plurality of 125,000 which Hudson County is able to ring up in any old election. This plurality has long been a crusher for the Republicans. By means of it, Hague, who calls Hudson “the Gibraltar of Democracy,” can almost always elect his own governor and senator, despite the fact that Jersey habitually chooses a Republican legislature. The way Hudson County wags the state was demonstrated in the 1987 gubernatorial election. Outside Hudson, the Republican candidate, State Senator Lester H. Clee, gathered a lead of 84,000 votes. Hudson came through with a 129,000 edge for Hague’s candidate, A. Harry Moore, and Clee was defeated by 45,000 votes. An independent study made at the time purported to show that in Jersey City alone the registration of 160,650 exceeded the number of those eligible to register. The number of residents twenty-one years old or over was placed at 147,000

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