Camden Courier-Post – February 5, 1938

By Gordon Mackay

Silence is golden where rumpus and ruction in the Democratic camp is concerned. Once upon a time whenever the unterrified Democracy squabbled and battled, fought and bled, ’twas tip secret. Indeed, the Democrats seemed to occupy nine-tenths of their time fighting over something that wasn’t worth a left hook to the chin.

It was row, row, row, from morn till late at night, fighting over the crumbs that fell from the tables of the opulent G. O. P. of that day and date. Nowadays, however, the shoe is on the other foot. It is the G. O. P. that lurks round for the crumbs, of both comfort and patronage, fighting their battles and spreading the tidings of their strife to the four corners of the county.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have foxily masked their bitterness, put a lid on acrimonious charges, created the erroneous inference that the dove of peace bears an olive branch in its bill. The impression is that a cooing pigeon is no sweeter than the harmony that prevails among the bigwigs of the party of Jefferson, Jackson and Roosevelt of Hyde Park. Despite the apparent smoothness of the appearance, there is strife and battle galore raging beneath the surface. It is carried on in a quiet strain. That it exists is only too true, as the warring leaders would admit, if they were compelled to testify under oath.

Oddly enough it seems a battle for leadership rather than spoils. For the BrunnerKelleher wing of party leadership has a blunt edge on its rivals. This edge is due to the fact that the other camp has its leaders all nicely tucked away in lucrative jobs.

Leaders Cared For In Billets

A brief glance over the situation will reveal this fact. Harry T. Maloney, a chubby gentleman with a beaming face and a modulated voice, is the collector of internal revenue. Mrs. Emma E. Hyland, suave, maternal and friendly to one and all, is postmaster. Samuel P. Orlando, both debonair and daring, is county prosecutor.

Naturally, none of these leaders has a valid claim to kick against the personal deal received from the Democratic party and its leadership. None of those mentioned above could expect to see huge forces rallying around their flag, when those to whom the invitation must be given are found idle and unemployed.

Practically then the Brunner-Kelleher faction is in the position of declaring that the present Democratic leadership hasn’t treated the rival clique any too poorly, when such jobs are allotted to the leader ship of the antis, opposed to the Mayor and County Treasurer.

Though this be logical, yet whoever heard, of logic swaying politics, or guiding a politico? The battle for leadership goes on apace. Circumstances lent an opportunity to the anti-Brunner leadership that came close to spelling curtains for the ruling element in the local Democratic camp.

All the strife and its consequent strategy harks back to the Moore-Clee battle of last November. Mayor Brunner and Treasurer Kelleher were on a spot. They had Moore, with his anti-Roosevelt record in the United States Senate, his Hague smear, for their gubernatorial candidate. So many different elements in the Democratic party opposed Moore and Hague that Brunner was right behind the eight ball,

He couldn’t help the Clee vote that piled up here any more than he could take credit for the tremendous sweep that carried the county for Roosevelt in 1936, Brunner in one instance was riding on a. victor’s coattails in Camden County. In the other instance he was beneath a juggernaut that was flattening him out, along with Kelleher.

Situation Gave Rivals Chance

Harry Roye, one of their ticket for Assembly, kicked over the traces. Support usually given to Brunner and Kelleher in certain quarters was missing. George and Eddie were fighting a hopeless cause.

But this didn’t deter the other faction from making hay while the sun shone. Missionaries of that camp ran to North Jersey with stories that Brunner and Kelleher were lying down on the job. As a matter of fact neither was lying down on the job. Both were punch drunk, politically speaking, from the socks they were taking on the chin for Moore.

The tales bore fruit. North Jersey began to act decidedly sore toward the local majority leaders. When the freeholders’ election revealed a gain of eight seats for the Brunner-Kelleher leadership, the glee of the rival camp was unrestrained. The couriers of the other faction raced to Jersey City and jubilantly yelled “‘We told you so.” These ambassadors pointed to the triumph of the freeholders on the Democratic ticket as convincing proof that Brunner and Kelleher and their allies laid down on Moore to save the local ticket. When George and Eddie went to Jersey City to confer with Moore, Hague and the party dictators, the Camdenites were confronted with this view of the election results in Camden County.

Then Brunner and Kelleher cut loose. They told Hague’s minions and Moore’s messengers that Camden County leaders had a right to be sore, not North Jersey. All that Brunner and Kelleher and their allies had sacrificed, declared the Camden county leaders, were three assemblymen, absolute control of the County Board of Freeholders and several minor posts as well.

Instead of Brunner and Kelleher lying down on the job, the North Jersey doubters were told, it was the fact that Brunner and Kelleher in carrying along Moore had lost everything else.

The Camden county leaders were indignant, sore and talkative, too. They pointedly told Hague and his allies, that if they didn’t like the manner in which the Camden County leaders had performed to go take a jump in the nearest lake.

Such was the situation until some allies of Hague looked over the Camden county figures. They discovered that with all the odds that were against them, Brunner and Kelleher and their organization had actually delivered 84 percent of the registered Democratic vote to Moore- – a performance that was a miracle, in view of the tremendous opposition that arose against Moore among both the G. O. P. and the Rooseveltians in the Democratic ranks.

When some stout soul in North Jersey pointed out that Governor Moore and his cohorts couldn’t overlook a leadership that was able to muster 84 percent of the Democratic vote at the polls, despite the terrific battle to which this leadership had been subjected, Moore and his satellites saw a great white light shining. No less an authority than Governor Moore, when informed, told Mayor Brunner and Treasurer Kelleher that all patronage would come through the State committee representatives. The Mayor, fortified with this claim, publicly told the fact at a banquet recently that he and Mrs. Mary Ellen Soistmann, State committeewoman, would handle all patronage. ‘

How the news and the switch in official viewpoint will affect the other wing of the Democracy is not given to me to divulge. I’m merely stating that the harmony that seems to spread its silvery wings over the Democratic party, has a few sour notes buried in the symphony.


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