Kurt Piehler: This begins an interview with Mr. Joseph Katz on November 8, 1995, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. I would like to begin by asking you a few questions about your stint as a Newark Evening News reporter. You mentioned, in your last interview, that you started on the suburban beat and covered a lot of small stories. What do you remember about those stories?
Joseph Katz: It was my days on the Newark News that laid the groundwork for what I later did in politics and government. I guess, like [in] most peoples' lives, there's a certain ... continuum and it probably began with the newspaper. When I was at ... Northwestern, going to Medill School of Journalism, I was able to get a job during that first summer. The program there was to take about two years. So, in the summer of 1950, I got a job as a summer replacement reporter and it was a lot of fun, ... as I anticipated. ... What, with my extra training out there in Evanston, I was pretty good at it, and, there, I worked on the city staff, which was a good break. So, I got to know the people around the paper and got some interesting assignments. I remember, the Korean War broke out during that summer, and they would chase me around, getting pictures and ... biographies of the ... soldiers who were interviewed by our reporter over there, John Davies, with whom I later worked in Trenton, and ... we would write what they called "shirt tails," something at the end of his story, "Private Jones is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Jones, etc., ... who went to Barringer High School." ... That was interesting. We'd also be chased around to get pictures of people who were killed in accidents or otherwise. ... That was a little difficult. [laughter]
KP: Did you have to go to the parents or next of kin and try to get their picture?
JK: Yeah. I remember, once, ... I was sent to some grieving family up on Bloomfield Avenue, in Newark. ... Their teenage child played hooky from school, I think it was around May, or maybe June, and got on a bus with a friend, went to a suburban swimming hole, and drowned. So I picked up my courage, and went in the house, and got his picture and ... some facts, and went back, and called in to a crusty rewrite man who raised a couple of trivial questions about it, and then, forced me to go back to the family to get answers to those questions, and I did it, and so, ... you learned to overcome a certain sense of delicacy that we might otherwise have. I had a variety of assignments. I remember, I covered a speech by Paul Robeson in Union Square and ... he was being picketed by right-wing patriots, the American Legion and others like that.
KP: Was this the Union Square in New York?
JK: In New York.
KP: What year was this?
JK: It was in 1950.
JK: Yes. It was Paul Robeson. ... Our night city editor was a fellow named Reuven Frank, and ... he was very nice to me, because I went to Northwestern with his brother-in-law, whose name was Herb Kaplow, and Herb Kaplow became quite celebrated on ABC, and Reuven Frank, of course, moved over to NBC, and was the producer of [the] Huntley-Brinkley Show, and, later, president of NBC News. In fact, later, there were times when I used to call him, or write him, to try to get a job at NBC. ... He took a number of people from the Newark News, and he would give me nice assignments during that summer. Well, anyhow, the summer was fine. I had a little romance with my college sweetheart. At the time, we hadn't yet broken up, and I was making forty-five dollars a week, which was all right, living at home, using my father's car. The summer ended, and I went back to school in the fall, and I finished up in March, ... as I think I told you last time. ... the Newark News hired me ... [for a] full time job, beginning in March. ... I was sent to the Kearny office, which was in charge of covering West Hudson, I think all of Hudson, South Bergen, and parts of Passaic County. I was given North Arlington and Lyndhurst as my first beat. That was in 1951, and we had an office in a little store near the town hall on Elm Street, Kearny. I would cover school boards, and township committee meetings, and anything else. The police department: we'd be in and out there, reading the blotter. You worked a lot at night, and I made friends, some of whom I occasionally see today. ... My salary was fifty-five dollars a week then, full time, ... plus, I think you were allowed to pad your expense account by about ten or twelve dollars a week. I was young, unattached, lived in Kearny with the folks, and so, I'd be out at night, going to these boring meetings, and then, I'd have to go back and write a story, but, working for an afternoon paper, you had lots of time. ... We used to write it, and, I think, type it out on the teletype machine, and it'd go to Newark that way. Then, in the fall, the News was having a re-organization of the Morristown office. They thought that things were too lax up there and they took one of my colleagues from Kearny, Tom Mackin, who was a very witty writer, later became chief of Public Information at ABC, another Kearny boy, and made him the head of the office. Then, I was told that I had to go out there. [laughter] [I] said, "I don't want to go out to the boonies," and they told me I was going, and it was a long commute.
KP: You were now covering Morris County, which was very rural at the time.
JK: Well, it was Morristown. Yeah, we had a little office over a real estate brokerage, also on Elm Street. Things led to Elm Street, [laughter] ... I went out there with a bunch of young guys, and Mackin was a good boss, and I didn't have a regular beat. I was doing rewrite, and I was given a column for the Sunday paper, "West to the Gap," meaning the Delaware Water Gap. The Morristown office covered four counties, Morris, Sussex, Hunterdon, and ... Warren, and so, I could write about anything I wanted, which was sometimes a chore in those counties, as long ... as it wasn't politics, and politics was my interest. [laughter]
KP: What did you write about?
JK: Oh, I'd write about how quiet the town of Hope was at midday and how buildings went back to the 17th Century. I'd write about the postmistress in Flanders and little featurettes. ... I didn't think it was too good, but, apparently, it was good enough.
Tara Liston: Were they mostly human interest stories?
JK: ... Human interest, and I'd, occasionally, get something in about governmental affairs, but, not too much. They wanted me to stay away from that thing. Beat reporters would do that.
KP: Morris County was much more rural when you were there than Kearny or Lyndhurst were, at the time.
JK: Oh, picturesque, yeah. ... Oh, yeah, I wanted to stay where the action was, you know, or ... where I thought it was. In Hudson and Bergen we had mobsters and things like that, and, occasionally, action stories. But, we had a lot of fun out in Morristown, we did a lot of drinking and dining. ... We'd get paid on Thursday, by check, and Friday was not too productive. [laughter] Sometimes, I wouldn't get home 'til Sunday, even. A bunch of young guys, and a lot of socializing, and, ... I guess, we did pretty good work, and ... I was allowed to write political stories, not in the Sunday column, but, in the regular issue, and, let me see, ... later, they moved the old office from Kearny to Clifton and gave it expanded responsibilities in Passaic and Hudson Counties, and elsewhere, ... Bergen. ... I got moved back and it must have been in the end of '52, maybe in early '53, and I got a nice assignment out of the Clifton office. I was given the Bergen County Courthouse to cover. ... We were a minority paper there, the Newark News. Our readership was largely down in North Arlington, Lyndhurst, Rutherford, and not too much else in Bergen. We were always trying to break in and a lot was happening. I remember, ... I would work out of the Clifton office, go over to Hackensack, to the courthouse, and, ... occasionally, ... I didn't regularly cover school boards or municipalities, but, for special events, where there was something of general interest, I'd go out. Bergen County consisted of seventy municipalities. I was always getting lost. [laughter] I still do. ... I'd find myself in darkened, woodsy areas at midnight, or something, ... looking for a police station, or something like that. ...
KP: You were covering these areas before the interstates were built.
JK: Oh, there were no interstates. ... The Parkway may have been open, but, the Turnpike, didn't have the western extension, and, no, I had the local roads, and Bergen County was booming. ... It was developing in the '50s, ... and so, I was covering the courthouse, writing political stories there, which I liked, and I got a break. ... The gubernatorial election was on in '53. It was Robert Meyner, ... he was the underdog, the state senator, against Paul Troast, to succeed Governor Driscoll, who could not run for a third term under the new constitution, and Troast, the Republican, who was a contractor, ... he was the first chairman of the Turnpike Authority. He built the Turnpike. Troast was a close associate of Driscoll's; he was a crusty old guy. ... I was called on to fill in for the regular political writers out of Newark, ... Jake Martin, who was the Trenton bureau chief, and Bill O'Connor, who wrote politics in Newark. ... On the weekends, they needed someone to spell them, and I got the job, along with John Davies, who'd come back from Korea, and so, that was quite interesting, and I didn't mind working on weekends and Sundays. I think I was paid overtime. I was all over the state, and I got to meet a lot of political types. ...
KP: What did you think of the campaign?
JK: It was exciting. I always found campaigns exciting. ... There was the Joe Fay letter. Troast had written a letter to Governor Dewey of New York asking for a pardon for a labor leader, Joe Fay, … imprisoned for extortion. He headed the Operating Engineers, which were a shady union, ... in those days. I don't know how they are now, but, they were for a long time, ... the letter broke in one of the New York papers. ... There was a hullabaloo; that helped Meyner, and ... there had been a headline grabbing investigation of Bergen County by a special prosecutor appointed by Driscoll, Nelson Stamler, who, ... well, he became well-known from that, later, became a state senator, whom I got to know well when I was in Trenton. Stamler in '52 and '53 was a daily ... headliner. There was all kinds of corruption up there by the entrenched Republicans in Bergen County. That didn't help Troast. It helped Meyner a lot. ... I wasn't in the middle of ... the campaign, as I covered it on Saturdays and Sundays, and called in late stories for later editions on Sunday. ... The last Saturday night before the election, I covered Troast down in Atlantic City. The big man there was Hap Farley, the Republican boss, and the Newark News didn't like Farley. They were a Republican paper, but, they didn't like him. He and Troast had a loud, ... verbal embrace, and pledged their support to each other, and I called it into the Newark News, which put it on the front page under the headline: "Boss Farley Hugs Troast." So, then, after the election, the News, which had only ... one reporter in Trenton decided they needed a second man, and I was selected. ... My "rabbi's" name was O'Toole. Walter O'Toole was the state editor, ... rest his soul. He was a good friend. He pushed me, and I got the job. A lot of younger fellows were aspiring to it, and I worked for Jake Martin, who was a good mentor and teacher. I was his assistant, and ... he was very generous, and gave me good stories to do. I started to get ... a regular byline. I became pretty well-known around the state. That began in December of '53. ... Driscoll was just leaving office. I remember my awe at ... the sitting governor's sticking his head in my office on a Saturday morning when I was there alone, working on a special story. "Is Jake around?" He was looking for Jake Martin. His name was Arnold E. Martin and [his] nickname was Jake. I said, "No, ... oh, Governor, gee!" [laughter]
TL: When did you meet the politicians?
JK: I had met a lot of them during the campaigns, of course. I met Meyner and Troast. They were the candidates, and some others, but, the "real" Governor, in the state house, sticking his head in, and I'm pecking away at my typewriter, and it was a thrill. I was no little kid. I was twenty-six years old, I think, going on twenty-seven. ...
KP: What did you think of Driscoll? You covered the last few weeks of his term.
JK: I didn't cover much of him. I covered him for a month, but, I read the papers on it. Driscoll was a great governor and some people think he's the greatest we've had.
KP: What did your fellow reporters think of him?
JK: Well, they admired him a lot. ... The reporters in the state had a tendency to admire whomever was the governor, despite their professional appearance of cynicism. Governors, if they knew their stuff, ... could handle the reporters, give them tips, turn off the recorder, and get along fine. It was a cozy, little set-up there. Meyner was inaugurated in January of '54, and that's when my career begins. I covered that whole administration and, I guess, it was the apotheosis of my political writing career. ... Oh, well, wait, there's something else. In '56, I was chagrined. I was not selected to go out to either convention. I think the Democrats were meeting in ... Chicago, and the Republicans in LA, and ... Jake Martin went, and John Davies, who had become the political writer in Newark. Bill O'Connor, who had covered in '53, had started his own public relations/lobbying business, something like what I later did. So, Davies became the political writer in Newark. I was the assistant in Trenton. Jake Martin was the senior man. So, Martin and Davies went, I guess to both, to cover the New Jersey delegation, and we had a very well-known Washington correspondent, Arthur Sylvester, who went to both conventions, and I stayed home. In the middle of the '56 convention I got a call from the editor of the paper himself, Lloyd Felmly, "Joe, ... Jake Martin's just been found dead in his room in Chicago." To me, this was like hearing about my brother, my older brother. ... "You go over there and tell Mrs. Martin." I said, "What?" and started to shake.
TL: How did he die? Was it a heart attack?
JK: Heart attack, yeah. He had had a bad heart from his childhood. He had rheumatic fever, or something like it. So, my goodness, that was one of the worst things I ever had to do. I got a hold of a good, personal friend of Jake who worked for the state. I took him with me to Jake's house in nearby Pennsylvania, and we told his wife. His two children were there. Later, ... his son, whom I knew as a young, scared kid, went to work for me in my business, ... in 1973. He's now a lobbyist in Trenton. ... Then, I'd just gotten married, too. This was in '56. I was married ... in May of '56, and we were living in Lawrenceville. Jake died in July or August, and there was a big shake up, and they told me I'm going to Newark to be the political writer and Davies was coming to Trenton to run the Trenton bureau. I wanted to stay in Trenton. I always wanted to stay where I was, and [laughter] they kept moving me around, ... but, that was good. ... Becoming the political writer in Newark meant I would go to Trenton on legislative days, and I wouldn't have to cover the state house on a daily basis, ... I'd have my pick of political stories around the state. ... The Newark News was a tremendously important force in New Jersey politics. It dwarfed the Star Ledger and any other paper.
KP: I read some old issues of the Newark Evening News. It was a very well done paper.
JK: It was pretty well done. They were arrogant though. They thought they could tell the Governor what to do. They thought they owned the state. I always resented that. ... They were, basically, liberal Republican. Clifford Case was their creature. My biases have always been Democratic, but, I tried to suppress them, more than they tried to suppress theirs, and I think I succeeded. I mean, I got along with Republicans all right. So, in that political writing job, I got ... to be the lead reporter, along with Davies, on the Meyner/Forbes race in 1957. That was Malcolm Forbes, Sr., who wanted to be president also, but, he figured he was going to climb a ladder. ... I don't think he spent twenty-five million, maybe he spent a quarter of a million ... against Meyner, and ... [I] got to travel with both of them, ... and then, in the 1958 senate race, the same situation. ... Pete Williams was elected over Robert Winthrop Kean, a Congressman whose son later became governor. I got to meet that son in the campagin. He'd just gotten out of college. ... When you get in that ... type of work, your path keeps crossing other peoples', all through the years. ... It's nice, and it's really an almost social group, whether you're Republican or Democrat, it doesn't matter. You know the people, you interact with them, and it was interesting. It made for an interesting rest of my life, or working life, anyhow.
KP: Particularly in the 1950s, television started to enter the campaigning process, but, I get the impression that New Jersey, even to this day, is sort of an awkward state for that.
KP: We do not have any major television outlets.
JK: Sure, ... and you didn't have tape. We had a television outlet back in '57, in the Meyner/Forbes campaign, it's pretty funny, and it was Channel 13, which is now Public Television. ... They had a studio down in the Mosque Theater, on Broad Street, in Newark. In those days, ... it was not a network station, and you could buy it up for the whole day, to have a telethon. The Democrats did it on ... the Monday before the election, Meyner/Forbes, ... they bought it early on, because Meyner was the incumbent. They bought the whole day, afternoon and evening, up to midnight, and the best Forbes could do was buy an hour from midnight to one. ... [laughter] So, at ten minutes to twelve, the Democrats had talked themselves silly and they owned the time up 'til midnight, so, at 11:58 or 11:59 PM they played the "Star Spangled Banner," [laughter] [with the] flag showing. Everybody turned off their televisions. There was only … one big room, one big studio, there at the Mosque, so Forbes was in another part of the room, preparing to go on. He's jumping up and down and going crazy when he sees the "Star Spangled Banner" being played. [laughter] Malcolm Forbes is a very likable man ... and he was a true war hero who never bragged about it. I mean, he'd gotten shot and a lot more. ...
KP: I have interviewed someone who was in his unit.
JK: Michael Ruben
KP: Yes. He said the same thing, that he was a very likable man.
JK: Yeah. Yeah, I liked him a lot. He traveled around in a milk truck. I had some good times with him, ... but, he didn't [win]. ... He lost by ... a little over two hundred thousand. Meyner had won by a hundred-and-fifty-some in '53. I could remember those margins. Then, ... traveling around with ... Kean and Williams in '58 was interesting. Kean was a real character, ... a multi-millionaire and a real tightwad. [laughter] A nice man, and Tom ... was that way, too, and so was Meyner, who didn't yet have any money.
KP: What do you mean by tightwad?
JK: He didn't like to spend his own money. [laughter] We reporters, I remember when we were traveling in ... late October, down in Cape May County, and we went to, I think, a town called Stone Harbor. There was only one restaurant open at the time, and Kean was paying his own way. He had spent a lot of money to win the nomination, but, he figured, now, it's up to the party to support him in the general election, and the party figured, "Here's this guy with all these millions, we're not going to support him. We don't have the governorship." As a result, he didn't spend much money, but, I guess he had to pay [the] expenses of the reporters and everybody traveling with him. There was only one place open, the Stone Harbor Inn. Our party of thirty-five or forty people sat down around one large table which covered three of the room's walls. Kean, somewhat dismayed at the prospective cost of the meal, suggested: "Friday's a good day for fish." Kean's staffers dutifully began to order fish and chips, or something like that. The first newspaperman called on was Frank Gregory of the Star Ledger, rest his soul, who liked to imbibe and had been imbibing that day. "What's the most expensive cocktail you've got?" demanded Gregory. Told it was a champagne cocktail he ordered that, and asked what was the most expensive dish. That turned out to be lobster or porterhouse steak. After Gregory ordered a steak all the reporters ordered champagne cocktails followed by either a lobster or porterhouse. Soon, Kean's staffers worked up the courage to change their orders from fish and chips and beer to lobster or steak and champagne. Williams had no money, but his party had the governorship and we traveled quite nicely.
TL: What was your favorite type of campaign to cover?
JK: I covered statewide campaigns, and, well, when we had an off year I would write about the legislative campaign. ... When I was in Newark, I had responsibility for Essex County politics, and I would write a Saturday column, "All About Essex." This made a lot of friends: put a lot of little items in, people would call you up with tips. ... Then, there was a lot of in-fighting, particularly in the Republican party in Essex. Dennis Carey was the Democratic boss. He had things under good control and the county was turning Democratic. ... It started to turn in the mid-'50s. Republicans were still very competitive, but, it was starting to become a Democratic stronghold, but, you covered Essex very closely, and ... it was like, ... what's a good comparison? A Roman republic. [laughter]
KP: People have made that observation about both Hudson and Essex Counties.
JK: Yeah, well, there were a lot of battles in Hudson. A lot of ... good political reporters came up through Hudson. John Farmer, my good friend, ... he was going to Trenton, too. We're still very close friends. ... He's now ... the national correspondent for the Ledger. ... He had a distinguished career, and my friend Dawes Thompson, and Andy Baglivio, was then also covering ... Essex, at the time. I was in Newark. ... When I left in '61, he succeeded me as the political writer. ... So, I did that for a few years, about five years, five or six years, from '56 to '61, after I went through the presidential campaign, Kennedy-Nixon, in '60. I had been through the circuit. ... A good friend of mine, developed to be a good friend, Thorn Lord, very eccentric man, was the Mercer County boss. The Democratic Party in New Jersey was a coalition of county bosses. Kenny in Hudson, Carey in Essex, Dave Wilentz in Middlesex, Thorn Lord in Mercer, George Brenner in Camden, and, to a degree, Tony Grossi and a guy named Eddie O'Byne, who was a mayor of Paterson, up in Passaic. ... Meyner would deal with them or try to fend them off. They didn't like each other too much, but, that was the way things worked. Lord, who should have stayed as a boss, was persuaded to run for the Senate against Clifford Case in 1960. That was a weird campaign. ... Lord, who was a moody and saturnine man, looked like Raymond Massey, the old movie actor, playing Lincoln. Although I think he was born in New Jersey, he was educated in the South. He was a patrician type with a slightly Southern accent. He wore ... shabby Brooks Brothers suits and beat up loafers, and lived in Princeton. He was a real character and a good organizer, and Mercer County was, ... pound for pound, ... probably the most productive Democratic county in the state. Percentage-wise, they did better than Hudson. He had started that organization with a guy named Richard Hughes, who had left politics and was a judge. Hughes was legendary; I had never met him, but, I heard about him, "Great guy, this Dick Hughes," everybody said. But, Lord was running. He had a disaster of a campaign in '60. ... I made a lot of good friends in that campaign.
KP: Is there anything else that sticks out about that campaign? Case was a remarkable figure, in terms of his endurance.
JK: He was a hard man for a Democrat to run against, because he was a Democrat ... in Republican's clothing, which was the big thing to be then. You could have it both ways. Labor would support him, all the liberals. The Newark News loved him, because Dick Scudder, who owned the paper, thought he had created him. In '54, the Newark News pushed him for the Senate, and he won by a fluke, because the Democrat, Charlie Howell, who had been a Congressman, would have won if Joe McCarthy hadn't gotten into it. He got into it ... by character assassination of Case and his sister, who he charged was a communist, and so, there was a boomerang effect, and poor Charlie Howell lost, when Hudson County voted for a pig farmer named Henry Krajewski.
KP: I remember him. Did you ever meet Krajewski?
JK: ... Yeah, I met him once. He used to come down and run every year. ... He claimed to be a pig farmer. One year, he came down to run for some big office, ... maybe it was that year, and, ... with petitions, he brought a little piglet with him, [laughter] and put it on the secretary of state's desk. The secretary of state was Ed Patten, a big, fat man, and, when he put ... this piglet on the desk, the pig proceeded to do what a pig does. It ran all over the desk. [laughter] We wrote about that. ... Yeah, so, Howell, by confluence of adverse circumstances, saw a 100,000 vote lead at midnight dwindle to a 3,400 vote defeat in the morning. ... I covered that. I wasn't supposed to. They sent a guy down from Newark to write the story at Democratic state headquarters, and he wrote a story about Howell winning the election and the reaction there. I hung around, ... that was in '54. I was young and had no better place to go, so, I sat around, drinking with the campaign boys and girls, and, ... by the morning, it had changed, and I got to write the story that was printed. [laughter]
TL: So, you were friends with a lot of people in the Democratic party as well as the Republican party.
JK: Yeah, well, I made a lot of Republican friends, too, because, when I covered an election, I covered both candidates. You'd cover a guy for one or two weeks, and [then], switch to the other man, and so, an election was a good time ... for somebody who was covering the legislature, because you got to meet a lot of legislators on their home grounds in the campaign, when the statewide candidate would come in, and, also, you'd meet the people behind them, the local leaders, the freeholders, the people like that. Later, when you were writing political stories, later, you had a personal acquaintanceship with people all over the state from these campaign trips, and you'd pick up the phone, "Hey, Bob, remember me, from the Kean campaign?" "Oh, yeah, we had a great time that day," and so, you'd say, "What's happening here?" ... It's a lot of fun. Didn't pay well, the newspaper, but, I never starved, because, a good part of the time, I was living at home.
TL: Did you go down towards Ocean County?
JK: Everywhere, sure.
TL: That is where I am from. Do you remember anything about that?
JK: Sure, I remember being ... in Manahawkin with Thorn Lord in late October and there ain't nothing happening. That whole Lord campaign in '60. I'm jumping back and forth, but, I guess people can straighten it out. I remember, in that campaign. Lord liked it when there weren't crowds, because he was shy.
KP: Which is exactly the opposite ...
JK: ... Of what you want to be. One day we were going through Hunterdon County, and I wrote a story, "The Lord campaign, yesterday, traveled through beautiful Hunterdon County observing the magnificent changing of the leaves, the glorious colors of fall." I didn't see any people. What am I gonna [do]? [laughter] Yeah, Ocean County, yeah, ... they had a ... crusty, old political boss down there named Steets Mathis. ... His name was W. Steelman Mathis. ... He looked like a southern sheriff and was the son of Captain Tom Mathis, who was the big boss for many years of the Ocean County Republicans, along with Farley's predecessor in Atlantic, Nocky Johnson. There's a lot of New Jersey down there. It was very Republican then, as, I guess, it still is. I mean, it had some interludes. ... There used to be a Democratic boss down there in the '50s named Cucci from Brick Township. Tony? I can't remember his first name.
TL: I think it was Todd.
JK: C-U-C-C-I was his name. ... I can't remember his first name, and ... the Democrats were ... usually a weak minority, and they were at each other's throats all the time. Cucci had his detractors, and everybody'd tell you the dirt about the other guy, and I didn't really care. We did have readership. The Newark News had strong readership down in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. We were strong about that far south, ... and down toward New Brunswick, and then, in northwest Jersey. We weren't strong up in Bergen and Passaic.
KP: That was the territory of the Bergen Record.
JK: Bergen Record, and the local papers, and Hudson had, like, three of them at the time. Well, so, I was traveling with Lord, ... and sympathizing with him, and I traveled with Case, too. I liked Clifford Case, and I, really, personally cared for Lord, and he liked me a lot, too. I remember, and he would ... worry everything to death, himself. They had this billboard, ... and it had his picture on it, and ... there's a process called registration, where the colors are supposed to go on in certain places. But his lip came out under his right eye, his red lip, on the billboard. [laughter] He saw the billboard, and he went crazy. He went in the back seat of the car and swallowed a Scotch bottle. [laughter] ... They were afraid to go near any of those billboards again. He'd have a fresh tirade every time he went. If there was too big a crowd, ... he would tell his driver to keep going, "Too many people there." It happened several times. ... I have more stories of that campaign. Once, we were in Salem County, at a place called Cowtown, where they had rodeos. We'd been down there all day, and that's far away. I think the Turnpike, yeah, ... was built. ... Then, Lord decided that there was a meeting he just had to get to. It was in Union City. Union City is up in Hudson County, just outside the Lincoln Tunnel, and this was about seven at night in Cowtown, and he said, "We gotta go to Union City." And his driver said, "Union City, Lord." They called him Lord. [laughter] "That's far." "Gotta get there. Let's go." ... So, we got in the car and we drove and drove. It was about 125, 130 miles, and we got there, and they're telephoning ahead. ... We didn't have portable, cellular phones or anything, and the Hudson County organization, they promised ... to hold the audience. It was in a union hall on the second floor of some bank building, ... up there on Kennedy Boulevard, or somewhere like that. We finally got in there about ten at night. They had held the audience by not giving them the free ham sandwiches until we got there. They did give them beer, though. They were pretty raucous when we finally arrived, and all the reporters poured in. It was close to elections, so, there were a lot of reporters traveling around the state from New York and ... Philadelphia. One of the beefy, rough spoken, city commissioners introduced him: "Ladies and gentlemen," and there wasn't a lady in the room, or a woman either, "Ladies and gentlemen, 'dis here is Thornton Lord. (His name was Thorn) He happens to be our candidate for the Senate, for the United States Senate, and he's here 'cause he just happened to be in the vicinity." [laughter] We almost fainted when we heard [that]. It was a disaster and so was the campaign. Just prior to the election Kennedy was here with Harry Truman. They had a big rally at the Sussex Avenue Armory in Newark. It was the biggest New Jersey event of the year. Lord's campaign was so screwed up that the cops kept him from the building. ... He needed clearance; got there too late to be admitted into the building. Things were so mixed up with him. He didn't like the state committee's PR man, who was a very competent and capable man, Jim Farley, and he said, "I'll never use a press release if Farley writes it." Farley used to still write them and he'd send them up with a young man who ... became my good friend back in '57-'58. His name was Joel Sterns, then working for the Meyner administration, and he's now a very well-known lawyer. ... We were very good friends then and still are. Joel Sterns, ... every day, would bring up the release for Lord to clear, and swear that he had written it himself. Lord suspected, one day, that Farley had written it. … He said, "Did Farley write this one?" Joel said, "Yeah." Lord took it, threw it on the floor, and started jumping on it. [laughter] So, I said to Lord, ... "Hey, Thorn," I had been through it all and I pretty much knew he was going to lose, but, I said, "If you want, ... I'll quit. I'll come to work for you." "Don't do that now," he prudently advised me. We liked each other personally. ... He lived in Princeton and I lived in South Orange. But, every day in the weeks I was covering him, he'd have his driver, even though he had to go to, say, Camden, or Burlington, from Princeton, he'd drive up to meet me at the Parkway and Central Avenue in East Orange. "Go pick up Joe Katz," he'd order [laughter] and he'd retrace his road southward.
KP: Which was a nice favor, actually.
JK: ... Which was nice. ... I said, "You don't have to do this." "I'll do it." It was all right if he was going to North Jersey, ... and I got to really love the man, and so, then, he lost, Kennedy won. I remember, Jim Farley got a job as a PR man for the postmaster general in the Kennedy Administration. All the Democrats were getting work. My friend, Joel Sterns, got a job there. ... No, that was later, in '61, but, anyhow, ... Meyner couldn't run again. He was finishing his second term. They were casting around for candidates, so were the Republicans, and I was writing away, covering both. This was pretty exciting. Both parties had to come up ... with candidates. Clifford Case came up with the idea of James Mitchell, who had been Eisenhower's Secretary of Labor. The favorite among the Republicans was from ... Bergen County, a Republican leader, Walter Jones, who had approached me in '56 to come to work for him. I was, then, having too good a time in Trenton, and [it] would have meant more money. My friend, Bill Kohm, from the Newark News, later, became a PR man, and we did a lot of things together, took the job instead. Jones was the favorite, but, the Newark News and the New York Herald Tribune got behind Mitchell, ... the so-called "Rockefeller Republican," (the liberal, Republican papers) and he won the nomination. The Democrats were casting around, and ... one possible candidate was a man named Grover Richman, who had been attorney general under Meyner. He was from Camden County, and was the favorite. Then he had a heart attack, and they came up with this man Hughes I had mentioned. He had left the bench … several years before, because he had this growing family. ... His wife died, and [he] got married again, and he couldn't support them on a judge's salary. I had heard about him having quiet meetings and things like that. I never met the man. Lord calls me up and ... asks me if I'd like to go to work for Dick Hughes. This was in February or March of 1961, and Lord said, "Why don't you go down and see him," ... and so, I went down, and visited with him in his law office at the Trenton Trust office building, at 28 West State Street. ... A genial guy, he asked me how much I wanted to be paid. I hadn't thought a lot about that. [laughter] I was making a little over two hundred dollars a week, maybe not that much. ... I figured, with expenses, the little expense account padding that they allowed, and overtime, I had made, maybe, the equivalent of 12,000 dollars the year before. So, I gulped hard, and I said, "15,000," and he gulped even harder, and agreed. [laughter] Dick Hughes was a very generous man, but, not with his own staff, and so, [laughter] I got the job, and it was just before the primary, and I went to work for the Democratic State Committee. ... Legally, they weren't supposed to take sides in the primary, but, the only opposition was some character up in Essex County who was the county supervisor, which was not like a county executive. He was sort of an eccentric. He was the nominal opposition in the primary. When I left the Newark News, it was pretty interesting. They were so hot for the Republicans, and especially excited about Mitchell. They had hated Meyner, but grew to accept him in the second term. The editor was a guy named Bill Clark, who had been the political columnist for years, with whom I worked very well. He was a very talented man, an old guy, who was an accidental editor. The publisher had picked a younger man who was so surprised by his appointment as editor that he had a nervous breakdown. Scudder didn't know what to do, so he plucks Clark out of the ... editorial writer's chair. Clark was a reformed drinker and [had] strong opinions. I was his fair haired boy for about two months, and then he went to the other extreme. I was very unhappy there. In fact, he had taken me off the Trenton political beat. That's right, that's why I wanted to leave there in a big way, and I was covering Essex County. That's what I was doing, and then, ... one day, he called me in, and said, "How come you missed the story in Trenton yesterday?" I said, "Don't ask me. I'm not allowed to go there anymore." He says, "You're not? You better go back." ... [laughter] There was a little power struggle between the city staff and the state staff, and I was on city staff, but, ... by that time, I had had it with Clark. So, Hughes hired me and I went and told Clark. I said, "I'm leaving." "Where are you going?" "I'm going to work for the Democrats." "The Democrats," and that was about ten-thirty in the [morning], "Get your pay," and I was out of there, ... and, "Clean up your desk," and he got me out of there in about a half hour, after ten years. It was in March.
KP: There was no farewell lunch or anything?
JK: And then, he told the editors, "I don't want that guy's name ever to be in the paper, again." They wouldn't quote me. Well, ... then, when Hughes was elected in '61, I was quoted a lot.
TL: They had no choice.
JK: They had to run one two-paragraph story, under the headline: "Ex-Newsman Gets Job." This got to be a ... very one-sided campaign. Mitchell could do no wrong and we couldn't get in the paper, in the Newark News, anyhow. It was tough. ... It was, really, the enemy camp and ... Hughes was unknown. He wasn't supposed to win, Mitchell was, because of his upset win in the primary and his ... national prominence. I remember, Time Magazine had an article, during the late summer, early fall, about the New Jersey race, and the headline was, "Who's Hughes?" Mitchell, ... in the early part of the summer, had fallen down. Some people joked that it was over a whiskey bottle (I never knew that. We couldn't prove it.), and broken his leg in the bathroom ... at the Cherry Hill Inn. So, he spent most of his summer at the Stockton Inn, in Sea Girt, recuperating. ... He wasn't too eager to go out campaigning, anyhow, [being] an older guy. Hughes was running all over the state, and we tried to multiply that, ... amplify that impression, of his being everywhere. ... His birthday was August 10th or August 9th, and we said, "We'll get 'em." We cooked up a way to get him in the papers. We put out a press announcement saying that, "He's too busy even to take time out ... to have a birthday party. We're taking his birthday to him." We cooked up an event at the Franklin Park Inn, just south of here, and ... we got his eighty-five-year-old father, in a wheelchair, [laughter] and brought him up from Burlington County, where he lived. I remember planning the logistics, assigning some of the young guys we had to, "Get old Dick Hughes, Sr., and bring him up." ... Even the Newark News had to run a picture of that birthday party. So, we'd get him in the paper that way. Well, that's history. ...
TL: That was a great idea. Did you come up with that, the birthday party?
JK: Well, I guess so.
TL: That is excellent.
JK: ... Well, today, ... it'd be different today. We had no television. Television wasn't much.
KP: So, television really does make a difference.
JK: Yeah. You asked me a question before. Television still wasn't a factor. ... Let's see, was it the first campaign? Yes, it was. We went into some television advertising, but, they ... couldn't edit tapes. They had no tape editing equipment. So, everything ... you did had to be on the first take. ... It was like the stage, on Broadway. One take, that was it. I remember setting up a day for televising. We had a schedule. We were to be done about eight o'clock at night, but we went on until two in the morning. Things kept happening to us. I remember, ... my next door neighbors in South Orange, had nine kids, and lived in the big, old, Victorian house. I think they were Republicans, anyhow, I got ... the mother carrying the baby down the stairs and saying, "We're voting for Judge Hughes because he cares about families" He had been a judge, you know, and I dictated: "His new first name for this campaign is 'Judge.'" We had to give him some dignity, because we had "Secretary" Mitchell of the Eisenhower cabinet to run against. ... Oh, we even had to go to tape a farmer on his tractor in Bound Brook. There was something wrong with the battery. He had gotten it started, but, if it stalled, he wouldn't be able to start it again. So, we really had to have one take and [laughter] he was waiting. He said, "You'd better hurry, I'm running out of gas," and our last stop was at United Auto Workers, up at the GM plant in Linden. We were running four or five hours behind, and ... we were supposed to take the guys getting off the ... first shift, at five or six in the afternoon. We got there, like, about ten, eleven at night, and they had kept those guys around. They kept feeding them beer. ... [laughter] They were all drunked up and we had to do a lot of takes.
-------------------------------------END TAPE ONE, SIDE ONE-----------------------------------------
KP: Was there any difference between how Republicans and Democrats got people to come out or was it beer and sandwiches for both parties?
JK: Well, the Democrats were a little [disadvantaged]. ... I mean, a free sandwich and a beer wasn't as much to the Republican in Millburn as to a Democrat in Linden. But, we got the TV done, and we got it on the air, and we won the election. ... The day after the election, that was Wednesday, on Thursday, I went into my office, which was in downtown Trenton, in a vacant former dance studio over a men's store, and across the street from the Hotel Stacy Trent. The Stacy Trent was the Republican hotel, and the Hildebrecht was the Democrats'. I found my office door locked. I had no place [to go]. ... I was on the street, I had no job, so, I went over to Red Higham, the functionary, who was secretary of the ... Democratic State Committee. He worked with our two top operatives, Bob Burkhardt, who was a famous political manager under Meyner and Hughes, and John Kervick, who was state treasurer under Meyner and the chief money raiser. They really called the shots. I had the title of campaign coordinator and I had a staff. I was in charge of all the press, all the speech writing, the issues, and worked with the advertising, and, ... also, on the literature and things like that.
TL: How much help did you have?
JK: ... I had a press secretary. I had John Spinale as press secretary, and Charlie Stephano was my assistant, too, and then, a volunteer, Tom McGrath. ... He had been volunteered by Johnson and Johnson. He was a young executive there. He was quite helpful, and one or two other people. A kid out of ... Eagleton, who became ... a big shot chief of lobbyists ... for the oil industry in Washington. I had him clipping the papers. We were about four or five people. ...
KP: How much polling did you do during the course of the campaign?
JK: ... I would consult on what went into the polls, and I can't remember who the pollsters were, but, Burkhardt ... knew a lot about that; he was the political manager. We had ... polls that showed us way behind in the early summer, like twenty points, and then, by Labor Day, we were down around nine behind. ... We were coming on. I remember, Kennedy came in the Thursday before the election and spoke at the War Memorial ... in Trenton. That was the highlight of our campaign. I think we peaked that Thursday. I think it went down a little bit after it, but, we won, ... (what a night!) by 34,000 and change.
TL: So, the birthday party was the turning point of the campaign.
JK: Birthday party, ... what turn?
TL: You were twenty points down before the birthday party.
JK: Oh, well, it was one of many. ... No, there was no real turning point. We just kept chipping away, chipping away.
TL: Was it discouraging when you saw those initial polls?
JK: Oh, and Mitchell refused to debate.
TL: Oh, really?
JK: ... That's an old chestnut. ... "I challenge my opponent to a debate." We did it, and he refused. That took on a life of its own, and we keyed all our advertising on that. ... "Why won't Jim Mitchell," or Mr. Mitchell, "debate New Jersey's transportation problems?" and we put that on the buses, and then, "Why won't Mitchell debate Judge Hughes on New Jersey's unemployment problems?" "Why won't he debate this or that?" ... We stripped it down to its component parts, and, you know, he could've had one or two token debates ... and killed the issue, because, ... after a debate, the papers didn't say, "So-and-so beat up somebody else." They just report, "This guy said this and the other one said that," and, unless you'd really seen it, like you did Kennedy and Nixon in '60, on television. Kennedy, of course, came off much better. On radio, maybe the other way around, but, there ... might have been a little television, and, actually, Dick Hughes, who had many talents, was not a good debater, we found out later. [laughter] He'd get on too many ... tangent issues and get off the subject. So, Mitchell had made a big miscalculation there, and we used that, and, you know, it really was time for a change. Meyner had been governor for eight years. But, we held on.
KP: Do you think Mitchell simply sat on a lead?
JK: Yeah, I think so. He didn't do much of anything. He counted on the Newark News, and the Herald Tribune to carry him through. They tried and the Republican party did not really have that much ... in the way of machinery. The Democrats did.
KP: The press, now, is viewed as having a liberal bias. I once spoke with a historian who remembered that, while growing up, the press was viewed as much more conservative.
JK: Oh, always, all through Roosevelt. You know, he castigated the ... press lords, and barons, and the news barons, you know. Nationally, you had the Chicago Tribune, Colonel McCormick, and, in New York, you had the Daily News and Hearst papers, ... which was the Journal American. ... The liberal paper was the Post, in those days, and the New York Times had, like today, sort of a bit of a liberal bias, but, not too much. ...
KP: In New Jersey, do you feel the slant was towards the Republicans or were there also Democratic papers?
JK: Well, in Hudson County, sort of. Basically, ... the Newark News called themselves, independent, but they were liberal Republicans. They liked Eisenhower and Case. From the standpoint of their party favoritism, it was all Republican. ... They felt that they could name the Republican leadership of Essex County. In fact, when I was covering Essex County, ... the insurgents, generally, had to fight the Newark News to unseat the so-called "Clean Government" organization. There had been an alliance, back in the forties, between the Newark News and Arthur T. Vanderbilt, who ... later became the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the new Supreme Court, and ... he was tied in with Driscoll, so, there was this whole Republican triumvirate, the Newark News, Governor Driscoll, and Arthur T. Vanderbilt. ...
KP: Did you ever cover Vanderbilt?
JK: I covered him when I was in Trenton. I covered the Supreme Court. Yes, I covered him a lot. I knew him.
KP: Arthur Vanderbilt ...
JK: Crusty man!
KP: Yes, I have heard a range of responses. I am doing an oral history project with Alan Lowenstein, who really admires Vanderbilt, but, I have also heard people speculate that, here, you had a man who, at one time, looked like a party hack become this really distinguished chief justice.
JK: He wasn't allowed to be a party hack, because the party organ, the Newark News, regarded [him] ... [as] a "leader," not ... a "boss." A boss was Hague, and Farley, and, later, Kenny. Vanderbilt was a leader, because he was the head of "Clean Government." By its very name, it's "clean." [laughter] Is that tautological or tendentious? What is the word that describes that relationship?
KP: I have heard very mixed views, that he could really rough it up on the local level, but, when he got to the Supreme Court, he became more polished.
JK: Sure. He had the power of the paper behind him, too, and the paper was the Bible out in the suburbs, even in Newark. The Ledger was no factor. ... Well, Mort Pye was a wonderful man, always liked to be with a winner. They endorsed Mitchell half-heartedly.
KP: Has it surprised you that the Ledger, which, until the 1970s, was a minor paper, became the surviving state paper?
JK: ... What a breakthrough it was for them. The Ledger is, I've been told, ... the foundation of the Newhouse billions. He had other papers, but, the Ledger's always generated huge sums for them. Yeah, sure, it surprised me, but, by that time, by the time the Newark News was caving in, it was a function of television. It was a function of their being an afternoon newspaper. It was a function of, maybe, decrepit management. ...
KP: Did you see the signs of it when you were there?
JK: No, I left in '61. They didn't fold until '73. ...
KP: You did not think to yourself, "It is time to get out."
JK: They were all-powerful. No, although I joke that my leaving was a proximate cause of their collapse. [laughter] No, they were at the peak of their power.
KP: It sounds like you were surprised at the way they took this slide.
JK: ... Well, you know, in those days, even in the early '60s, people would still come home at night with their paper under their arm, or pick up the paper that had been delivered, and sit down, and get the evening news that way, as you had, maybe, a fifteen minute newscast ... on TV, and you didn't get your news that way, but, later, it was the morning paper [that] survived. Of course, the Newark News could have become a morning paper, as the Record did, the Asbury Park Press did. The Ledger was there, but, I would think they had the momentum. ... I guess they couldn't cope with the changes, but, that's another story. ... Well, I don't know. I'm getting into too much detail here. ... Why don't you ask me some questions?
TL: I know, at one point, around the time of the Newark riots, the Newark News came out and called for his resignation.
JK: Hughes, ... they called for his resignation? I didn't know if they did it then, but, they called for his resignation in 1963, when I was working for Hughes. That was our first big crisis. You know, when ... we were elected, New Jersey had no sales and no income taxes. ... They had no broad based taxes. We're one of the few states, even then, who didn't, and that was always a big issue. And the Newark News' watchword was, "No broad base tax." The Republicans parroted that. ... There had been a sales tax back in the '30s, when Harold Hoffman, a Republican, was governor. It was repealed, I think, six months or less after it was enacted. The Newark News may have been liberal on international or national things, but, on state taxes, they weren't. They required a candidate for Governor to take the pledge. Hughes refused to take the pledge in '61.
TL: They have him quoted as saying he would not have run unless they took that out of the Democratic platform.
JK: We took it out of the platform, too. Tara, you're right. You're reminding me of things. I remember that, because I helped write the platform. ...
TL: Oh, really?
JK: Sure, and that was a big thing. ... Unlike some politicians, today, at the very highest level, he was not afraid. ... I mean, he was a good politician. He made people think he told them what they wanted to hear, but, he would draw a line, and that was a line he drew early. " ... I'm going to do everything I can to avoid a tax," he'd say, but he never promised not to enact one. So, he got to be governor, and it was getting pretty hard to avoid it. We needed some money and we had no tax sources. ...
KP: How did you fund the state government?
JK: Oh, I guess excise taxes, railroad, utilities, things like that. There were many. Cigarette tax wasn't much. The gasoline tax was a few pennies. ... I don't know, our first budget was a couple of hundred million, if that. Every time you'd go over another hundred million, the Newark News had a big headline, "Hughes Budget Sets New Record." I don't think we got to a billion dollars in the first year and we needed some money. ... Our Budget Director and Kervick, the state treasurer, came up with the brilliant idea ... of floating a big bond issue, 750 million dollars, and paying for it with the surpluses that the Turnpike was generating. ... It was called the Turnpike Bond Issue, and it sounded like a panacea. [laughter] After it was all cooked up, they called me in, "Well, how are we going to sell it?" ... It was in April of '63. "We didn't want to get beaten by it appearing first in the Ledger, or the New York Times," because in those days, the afternoon papers had more impact. So, ... I cooked up a six a.m. press conference in the Governor's office, naturally. We had this big announcement, and it seemed to be a foolproof idea in April. [laughter] I got the reporters out of bed early. The press conference was a big sensation. ... Bill Ozzard was the president of the Republican Senate. ... It was a ... Monday or Thursday morning, and he was driving from Somerville to Trenton, and he heard this announcement on the radio. He damn near went off the road. ... We had them stunned for a few months, but, then, they started on us. The money was ostensibly to be spent for capital projects, so it could be paid off, but, it turned out that one-third of it really would have gone to school aid, and other operating costs. That was its big flaw, and, besides, it was complicated. ... There had to be three referendums. So this was revolutionary. That was the whole campaign. It was an off year legislative campaign, and we had a chance to take control of ... both houses. Hughes was all over the state, running up and down, but, we lost the bond issues. ... One of the three was quite close, and the other two were [not close]. We lost control ... of the Assembly, which ... we had held since 1957. On election night, the Governor declared, "My head is ... bloody but unbowed." The next day, the News had ... an editorial saying he should resign as governor. That really got us. They knew how to hit you when you were down. That was Bill Clark. ...
KP: What was the impact of one man, one vote on the state government?
JK: Oh, that was very big, very big. That came in '66, when they moved from twenty-one to twenty-nine senators. ... I think the Reynolds vs. Simms decision was '65 or '66, wasn't it? That was tremendous. We had to change the Senate.
KP: Yeah, I mean, it really made it more democratic.
JK: Well, let's see, we were ... reelected in '65 and you're going to have to refresh my memory. Was it ... '65 or '66? It must have been. ... Was that when the Senate was twenty-nine, in '65? ...
KP: I am not sure, but, I know it was done by county.
JK: Yeah, they had odd numbers. It used to be that there was one senator from each county. It was called the "Twenty-One Club," twenty-one counties. So, Cape May, at the time, had 35,000 people, and Essex County had almost 900,000, and each had one senator, and that's how your South Jersey, your Ocean County, which hadn't that many people, ... got together under Farley, the Atlantic County boss. He had five or six Republicans there, and they had a rule, when they were in control of the Senate, that no bill would be posted for a vote unless it had a majority of the majority party. So, the majority party had, say, fifteen members. You needed eight. Eight of the fifteen could block any bill, even though the other thirteen senators were for it. The committee system didn't exist. It was on paper. If a bill cleared the Republican caucus, which Farley dominated, it was then signed out of committee. The committee had never had a meeting. One man, well, one vote, destroyed that, because there were going to be more senators from Bergen, and Essex, and Hudson, and Middlesex. There was an interim period there where there were twenty-nine senators, and I think Cape May and Cumberland, areas like that, had to share one senator. And in the large counties there were several. (Oh, sure, because Essex County had four in the '65 election. I remember, we had a balanced ticket, one black, one Irishman with a brogue, one Italian, and one Jew. No WASPs.) They were on the Republican side. That was Carey's ticket. They were elected with Hughes. ...
KP: You were with Hughes in '65?
JK: Oh, I was in charge of the campaign, along with Burkhardt and Kervick.
KP: Since we are at Rutgers, it is apropos to ask you about one of the dominant issues of that campaign, the Genovese controversy.
JK: Oh, boy, was it. Oh, that was one of the most traumatic events of my life, with Genovese. We had been getting letters in the Governor's office about this professor at Rutgers who said he'd hoped for, or prayed, I don't know if he prayed, maybe he was an atheist, but, ... he hoped for a Viet Cong victory. A lot of the agitation was coming from the AMVETS, the American Veterans of World War II. I'd get these letters, and I didn't know what to do with them. I kept calling Charlie Sullivan, who was the state director of purchase and property, former mayor of East Brunswick, who had been a state commander of the AMVETS, maybe national commander, I can't remember, "Hey, Charlie, you gotta do something about this." ... "Okay, okay, I will." He couldn't do anything about it. ... Wayne Dumont, who was a nice man, he was a state senator, turned out to be the candidate. He defeated Charlie Sandman. I don't think Walter Jones ran any more. Dumont was the candidate, and Dumont was a bit of a Boy Scout, and patriotic, and flag-waving; he didn't know nuances like the First Amendment. Maybe he knew the Second Amendment. [laughter] ... He was a conservative, but, ... in some ways, he was progressive. He was for sales tax. He knew the state needed money, so, we didn't have a tax issue that year, but, he picked up the Genovese thing, "If I were governor, I'd fire that ... traitor up at Rutgers." I don't know if he used that word. ... We didn't know what to do, and I remember, ... we had this meeting, all the top staff within the State Committee and the campaign, at, interestingly enough, the Stockton Hotel in Sea Girt, where Mitchell had spent the '61 campaign. And Hughes said, "Well, I'm not going to do anything about it. I'm going to go out and tell the press." Well, okay, we go out on the porch, and he got out there, and I was agreeable to that. But, when he said, "I see the stink of McCarthyism here," I said, "Why did you want to bring him up?" [laughter] I remembered McCarthy well from '54, costing Charlie Howell the United States Senate seat, and there were still a lot of McCarthyites around, particularly in Hudson County. He had a big following among Hughes' ethnic group, the Irish. ... "Now, why did you bring that up?" I asked the Governor. ... We were really frightened about that. All the liberals were for us, and ... we won the election going away. We took some polls afterwards and we found that ... we lost about two percent on the Genovese issue, and gained about three, or vice versa. ...
KP: I have read that Dumont really miscalculated by running a single issue campaign.
JK: Yeah, and the Democrats took over ... both houses of the legislature. The Republicans didn't do too well. It was almost like the Truman reelection in '48. Hughes, personally, was likable, and we came up with a great slogan, "Because he cares." ... Some guy, who was a PR man and advertising guy in South Jersey, his name's Bernie Popick, came to me with this great idea, "Let's have a billboard campaign, 'Because he cares,' and, ... 'Hughes built so many miles of highway in the last four years,' and another board with another statistic. Then, we distilled it, and we dropped ... the idea of the specifics, and we came up with a beautiful billboard. Billboards were big things then. It was blue background, and a great picture of Hughes, who really was very unphotogenic. But, we had a good picture of him. I had everybody there, including the world-famous Karsh in Toronto. Finally, we got ... a guy who did bar mitzvahs in South Orange, Eric Wagman. He did a good picture and touch up. ... We used that, and with the slogan, "Because he cares … Re-elect Governor Hughes." By that time, his first name had changed from 'Judge' to 'Governor.' [laughter] ... It was a big thing, and it worked, and ... we had good TV then, and they could edit the tapes, testimonials of people ... on the street. ...
KP: Were they real people on the street?
JK: Oh, we got people that looked like real people.
TL: I guess they had acted like real people before, too.
JK: It was very well done. ...
KP: Was this the first major campaign where television really played a central role?
JK: ... More than '61, yeah. Well, I guess it had started ... nationally, and then, covering the news, even though ... Meyner used it first, in '57. We used television, but, in covering the state house and all that stuff, television wasn't that big. ... There wasn't anybody there regularly. They only popped in on big stories and it was spotty, like New Jersey's coverage now. We had no state network or anything like that. Now, in fact, ... one or two of the Philadelphia stations have a bureau in Trenton. ...
KP: I noticed that when I was down in South Jersey and watched the Philly news. They often do a better job of covering New Jersey.
JK: Oh, the New York stations are better, too. ... All through the Hughes Administration, television got to be an increasingly big factor, but, we would have to take Hughes on the rounds to New York and Philadelphia for interview shows, to get him on, or if there was ... a news event, or an announcement, or something like that, they were too damned arrogant to come to Trenton, and we'd have to stage it. Some stuff we'd stage twice, up ... near the George Washington Bridge or the Lincoln Tunnel, and then, again down in Camden and Cherry Hill. I think, today, they have a little more success getting on the air. Of course, television is much more crucial to getting your message out.
KP: When do you think television became more crucial, politically?
JK: ... It was a developing process, all along. Each year, it became more and more crucial. It didn't develop overnight. ...
KP: You cannot pinpoint a particular campaign or year?
JK: No, it became more crucial ... in campaigns than it did on a day-to-day basis, but, they both grew incrementally. I think the ... Nixon-Kennedy debates in '60 were a ... tremendous watershed, but, the coverage, in general, was still by the writing press. ... Today, in New Jersey, ... the press is more important than it is elsewhere, because the electronic media have ... a shortage of TV outlets. They have radio, but, that doesn't do much, except when they wanted to destroy Florio. [laughter] So, well, then, after Hughes was re-elected in '65, ... I checked the constitution again, and I knew he couldn't run, [laughter] and, meanwhile, I had been, in my spare time, ... producing babies, and I had four kids by that time, ... the last of whom was born in the middle of the '65 campaign, the day before Hughes's helicopter crashed and made a forced landing ... the same day, in which he later broke his finger in a car door. ... My baby was born August 29, 1965, on a Saturday night, and, on Sunday, I was trying to get some sleep, 'cause I was up all night, and, in the morning, he calls me up, and, "Joe, I'm in a state police station in the Piney Woods here. ... The helicopter cracked up. Call the press." I was home and calling the press was a big job. You have to call, like, thirty people then.
KP: Did you literally and physically have to call them?
JK: Yeah, I called. I'd call the AP and UPI first, then, make sure. ... That took an hour-and-a-half, then, went back to sleep, and, in the late afternoon, he calls me up, "I'm at Paul Kimball Hospital. I broke ... my finger in a car door. Call the press," ... and so, yeah, I gotta go visit that baby tonight or in the morning. She's now a doctor in New York, a resident. So, I decided it was time that I moved on. So, I said to myself, "What have I been doing but PR?" ... So, I'm gonna go out and try my hand at it. ... By that time, I was making 16,500 dollars a year. I had started at 15,000 dollars in '61, and, ... by cajoling and pleading, I had gotten a raise to 16,500 dollars, and here it was, after a re-election and a campaign like that, I said, "Hey." ... He wouldn't give me another raise, although, he was paying his lawyers and people like that 19, 20,, a lot of money then, and, oh, I think Betty was mad at me. ...
TL: I was going to ask you about this.
JK: ... He was getting $30,000 or $35,000, and for him to get a raise, they had to pass it in '65 for it to take effect in the next term. He couldn't sign his own raise and I said, "Boy, it's pretty dangerous," and I wanted the insurance. He was looking for a $10,000 raise, I think. ... "People are going to use it against you," and all that, and Betty was after him. ... They had all these kids, and they needed the money. I was against it, and she knew it, and then, he didn't go for it, and we won going away. We won by over 200,000.
KP: However, a raise that size ...
JK: I wasn't getting a raise, [laughter] but, then, when I was leaving, I said, "Look, I'm only gonna be here another three weeks." So, I got him to give me 18,000 dollars a year for about three weeks or four weeks.
KP: Did you ever go to Morven?
JK: All the time.
KP: There has been an effort to restore it and make it into a museum of state history.
JK: I have wonderful memories of Morven.
KP: What are some of them?
JK: Oh, nice parties there, and I remember, ... when Hughes was governor-elect, he had ... these kids. ... Some of them are lawyers and judges. One kid, he's now ... a federal prosecutor, or public defender, fell down, from the third floor to the first floor, down the stairwell, and landed on the carpeting. Nothing happened to him. ... Betty did a nice job. She fixed it up well and she was quite a talented woman. ... She had her own TV show, but she and I were wary of each other.
JK: Well, because, ... Dick Hughes, he was a wonderful man, and anybody who worked for him, I think, loved him, with all of the foibles that people have. He was talented. He was smart. I'd like to say he's the only boss I ever had that I truly believed was smarter than I was. [laughter] Today, if I had a boss, he'd be a lot smarter, but, in those days, I thought I was smart. He was able to compartmentalize, and he wouldn't tell her too much about what happened at the office, and he wouldn't tell us too much about ... the things that happened in their socializing, their friends, and the favors he granted, to Betty and her crew. We all resented it, and so, we kind of resented each other. We tolerated. We had to. She had to tolerate us. ...
KP: Where did Betty Hughes' television program air?
JK: It aired on Channel 10, which was CBS, in Philadelphia. She did a lot of that.
KP: What type of program was it?
JK: It was an Oprah type thing, but, not with the sexual perverts. ...
KP: It was basically a talk show.
JK: ... It was "my daytime." ... She was very witty and humorous, and she ... had been a journalism major at Douglass, you know, NJC in those days, and about her family and finances. She'd interview people and she would go down there and do three or four programs at one sitting.
KP: How much social entertaining did the Hugheses do or how much political entertaining did they do?
JK: All their big events had political tinges. Morven wasn't conducive to big events. They had a small dining room. Their own social things were smaller. I mean, they had their friends over. I wasn't part of that.
KP: It sounds as if they compartmentalized a lot.
JK: Yeah, they did a lot. Yeah, I don't think, ... well, I knew who their political friends were. Some of their social friends used them politically. There was one guy, obnoxious man, and he had the Governor's private number. When Hughes would be having a press conference, ... this SOB would call him up on the phone and he'd take the call. ... We would stew. He'd call him up ... to try to get something fixed, or done, or something like that. Yeah, I could talk to you for months about all the things that went on with Hughes. I don't want to try to do it, but, it was a wonderful experience. I've been fortunate, and I remember, we talked in our first interview about all the unhappy times as a kid, in high school and all that, but, from the day I went to college, life has been pretty interesting. I always worried that it was gonna be tougher, or something wouldn't happen, or I wouldn't get a job, but, ... everything turned out pretty well. I always liked what I was doing. When I had to leave I had some down times, but, not many. It was always for something better. I never regretted leaving the newspaper business, and I loved it while I was doing it, and, when I left government and ... active politics, well, I stayed in politics for a while, I didn't regret that, because ... business turned out pretty well. In '66 there, always in March. [laughter]
KP: March is your big month?
JK: My Ides. So, I was going to be a PR man, and then, I got hired by some people, who wanted me to get things started in the Legislature. They believed in the euphemism that PR also covered lobbying. I thought PR was publicity, 'cause I didn't do the lobbying for the Governor. His legal counsel did. I didn't handle the legislature. Well, occasionally, I'd go in, but, I was in the propaganda office, and I had other responsibilities, secretary of the cabinet, ... but lobbying was not one of them. Fortunately, we had carried in both houses by big majorities in '65; first time we had control of the Senate since the '30s. ... When I left, oh, yeah, Bob Burkhardt hired me, he was the Democratic state chairman, to be publicity man for the State Committee, which I had sort of been doing in the Governor's office anyhow. So that was one of my first clients. My first client was the Nursing Home Association, which was, then, little more than old boarding houses, who were getting a very poor reception from the state. They had their lobbyist, who was a former Republican assemblyman, so I wasn't hired as a lobbyist. I was hired to do their PR, ostensibly, but, what I found out later, they really wanted me because I'd get them an open door into the Department of Institutions and Agencies, which controlled their welfare payments. Nursing homes were not the health care institutions they are today. They were sort of like boarding homes, and they were having a tough time. It was a good relationship. I had it almost to the very end, and then, others came. The automobile dealers in January of '67. I worked with the State Committee, and other things, and it grew and was exciting. So, I had it both ways. ... I had my hand in politics, because I was the strategist for the State Committee. So, I had entrees. ...
KP: How many more campaigns did you work on?
JK: ... Then, we had a series of disasters. In '66, ... we didn't have a candidate for the US Senate. ... They were gonna run Fairleigh Dickinson, Jr., who was a Republican. A college is named after his father, and he was head of the pharmaceutical company, and Burkhardt had gotten him. ... I guess he got him when he had too much to drink one night, and he was gonna run as the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate, I guess to the right of Case. [laughter] But, then Henry Becton, who was a big Republican and who had the control of Becton/Dickinson, the pharmaceutical firm, said, "Fairleigh," ... or Dick was his name, "Dick, if you run, you're out of the company." So he pulled out. What to do? So, Burkhardt, and Kervick, and Hughes came up with Warren Wilentz, ... who had been Middlesex County prosecutor, a good guy, Beau Brummell sort, ... son of David Wilentz, the Democratic boss or leader of Middlesex County. Warren was on his honeymoon. He had gotten married a second time. He was in Hawaii. In fact, I had written the announcement of Dickinson's candidacy. He was very close to deadline. [laughter] So, Dave called up Warren to tell him he was going to run for the Senate, [laughter] when he was in Hawaii. Then, he came home and it was a disaster. Warren couldn't speak. ... He jumbled his words, much like I'm doing. [laughter] ... He was a, what's the word I'm casting about? I said a Beau Brummell. He was too well-dressed, too well limousined, and ... he had no issues. He had debates with Case. Case was not going to refuse to debate. It was a real disaster. ... I was doing Warren's stuff. We're friends to this day, and, oh, my God, ... I remember, I cooked up, you talk about brainstorms to get attention, which had worked, maybe, in '61, I had one in '66, when I said, "We're gonna ... get Warren to every county in the state in one day. We're gonna do it by helicopter," and so, ... I used to live near the Mercer County Airport, right around the corner. So, I worked it out with this New York Airways that used to have these big helicopter-bus type things that flew from among the airports in the New York area and down Philadelphia. We would charter one for a whole day. We'd start at Mercer County Airport, and we'd go out into ... each county, with a press entourage, and show how much Warren cared about the state. So, we got up real early. We were to take off about seven at Mercer Airport, and that was good for me, because it was five minutes from my bed. I get a call from the state police, "It's foggy. The helicopter can't get up here. ... It's in Burlington." So, we, somehow, got hold of a bus to take us down to Burlington and everybody ... got on the bus. We got a ticket on the way to Burlington for speeding. We got to the helicopter, and then, we were to go to Gloucester County from there, and the pilots got lost. They couldn't get to Gloucester County. We wound up at the Philadelphia airport, with our candidate, and the press is writing away, for each of these editions were coming out during the day, "Wilentz Campaign Flounders At Philly Airport."
KP: You literally had gotten lost.
JK: We literally got lost. We were the laughing stock, but, we got through everything. He wound up doing ... the southernmost counties at two in the morning. I guess this was technically the next day, by car. [laughter] ... You see, some of these great ideas, like birthday parties, don't always work.
KP: You liked Hughes and you got to know him probably better than any other governor. What do you think of the governors that followed him, in terms of both temperament and what they accomplished?
JK: Well, Meyner was a caretaker. He held the fort. He was truly a conservative Democrat, but, ... he was not, you know, like a boll weevil, like a Phil Gramm, who was once a Democrat, or anything like that. ... He believed in not spending money. ... It comes out of his frugal immigrant beginnings, I guess. Maybe, for those days, he was good. Driscoll was a man of great accomplishment, not during my time. He built. He was the father of the Constitution, which had failed before him, and the Turnpike, ... and he got the new court system, together with Vanderbilt. He did a lot. Meyner was a caretaker. Hughes ... was a breakthrough governor. Bill Cahill, he was a decent man who tried to do a lot, but, he didn't. He tried to pass an income tax, you know, and that cost him with the Republican Party. He was another Democrat, really, who was elected in the Republican Party. He was not conservative at all. He had a lot of bad luck. Some of his people got indicted. So did Hughes's people. Burkhardt and Kervick both got convicted later.
KP: Cahill would not even survive the primary in his own party.
JK: Well, if he survived the primary, he might have gotten elected. His own party killed him.
KP: What do you remember of Charlie Sandman?
JK: Pugnacious type of a guy. He started out against Hughes; they became very good friends, incidentally. That's how I found out that Hughes was not a good debater. Sandman, I think, was president, or majority leader of the Senate early on, and Hughes challenged him to a debate over some appointments that they were blocking. It was on radio in New York, and we all went to New York. It was on a Sunday. I don't know who listened to it except us, on a Sunday, on the radio. We went up to somebody's aunt's apartment in New York, and we staffers were listening to the radio, to the debate. We're going crazy. Sandman is cleaning the floor with him, because Hughes would go off on these tangents. Philosophically, Hughes was a true liberal, and Sandman, ... in a lot of ways, was like Joe McCarthy. (Personally, he was a likable guy.) And he talked like McCarthy, almost. [Mr. Katz imitates Joseph McCarthy.] ... He and Hughes were great buddies. Once, Hughes had had some party for the senators at Morven, and it snowed. ... Charlie and his wife stayed over there, ... at Morven, after their party, and they conceived their last child there, and [laughter] Charlie named him Richard, after Hughes, and that boy is now a lawyer down there. He married a young woman who was an assistant counsel to Governor Kean. ... I told her, "I know when your husband was conceived." [laughter] She knew the story, too. ... So, there was a lot of that. Hughes could get along, he could get along, he got along wonderfully with Hap Farley, who was still a big boss, Charlie Sandman, Bill Ozzard.
KP: It sounds like Hughes enjoyed being governor.
JK: He loved it. He liked people. ... Oh, yeah, people still, even after he became chief justice, I always called him, "Governor," and so did anybody who knew him as governor. Some of the lawyers would call him, "Chief," but, if they had known him when he was governor, they still called him, "Governor."
KP: It sounds like he liked Morven. His family liked Morven a lot.
JK: Oh, sure, sure. So did Byrne, so did Cahill. Morven's a great place, but, Drumthwacket ... has not had this much use. You were asking what campaigns I handled as PR counsel to the State Committee. The Meyner campaign in '69, I stayed out of the primary, because ... there were a number of people running, and the State Committee couldn't take a position. Meyner got the nomination. He wanted to make a comeback, but he had a lot of enemies. When he got the nomination, I went to work for him. I had my business, my PR/government relations business, and I handled the PR for that campaign. That was a trying time. Meyner became very eccentric. He was getting older and he wouldn't want to have any strategy meetings. He was on all these company boards and he'd get paid a couple hundred bucks for going to a meeting. He'd rather go to a board meeting, even in the middle of his campaign, ... because he liked the couple hundred bucks, though he now was a wealthy man. I was having increasingly strained relationships with him. ... Kenny, in Hudson County, was backing Cahill, and Carey, ... well, Carey was sort of loyal to Meyner. He had made enemies of the political leaders. He was anachronistic. The times had changed, and I tried to get him to go into Hudson County, and denounce Kenny, and run against him and the bosses. ... He wouldn't do it. "I'm not gonna do that for you," and I remember, he said bitterly at one meeting. He embarrassed me. I was almost in tears. All the people came up to me afterwards and said, "He's impossible to live with." He lost badly to Cahill, not because he didn't listen to me, he was gonna lose anyhow. Nothing would work.
KP: So, he had gotten to the point where he was not going to listen to anyone anymore.
JK: Yes. ... I was pretty friendly with him, but, ... he got mopped up in debates. He was cocky. He thought, ... "I've been governor. I'm a governor. I can do this, I can do that," and then, his first debate showed that he couldn't do anything, 'cause he was damn near senile. I remember, though, somebody told him, ... Cahill was running as an ex-FBI man, and somebody told Meyner that Cahill had only been in the FBI for seven weeks. In the primary, Cahill advertised a picture of himself with ... J. Edgar Hoover. So, this was gonna be our breakthrough, and I wrote a big speech for Meyner, poking fun at Cahill's FBI "career," to be delivered at the big fund-raiser in Sea Girt, and it just fell, like a balloon full of water. Nothing happened, "Splat." Nothing would get Meyner off the ground. ... The state was ready to beat him. So, after Cahill got elected, I thought, "Now, I'm in trouble." I'm, by now, a lobbyist, and I gotta do business with these people. Although Cahill was wary of me, the people around him were very decent, and my pal, Bill Kohm, was the strategist on his side. I'd done well by Bill when Hughes was governor, and so, Bill was like my intermediary, and it didn't cost me anything. I had entree, ... and business continued to grow, but, ... I decided I wasn't gonna run Democratic campaigns anymore and be a lobbyist at the same time.
KP: So, 1969 was your last campaign. You sort of went out on an off note.
JK: ... Oh, yeah. I had two losers, two big losses, '66 and '69, and, really, I only had two winning campaigns, both Hughes's, in '61 and '65, and we had a big defeat in '63. And I handled a terrible defeat in '67, when the Democrats lost both houses. They went from a two to one majority to two to one Republican majorities overnight, because they had done so many controversial things, like passing a law to give ... benefits to strikers, unemployment benefits, and passed the sales tax. All this in the first two years of Hughes's term. So, in '67, S-400 was the watchword. That was the bill that gave benefits to strikers, and I was working with the State Committee, and, "What's the slogan gonna be this time?" and I came up with something. The slogan was, "The courage to do what's right." [laughter] It didn't work.
TL: Were you nervous about Hughes deciding to go for reelection?
JK: In '65?
JK: Sure I was nervous. That's why I didn't let him take his pay raise, because we didn't know how it was going. He had gotten his ears pinned back in '63 on the bond issue, and we had a Republican legislature. In retrospect, it looks like a walkover, but, it wasn't. ... We were frightened to death, the Genovese issue.
KP: Before the campaign, did you do any polling over the course of his four years, or did you just wing the campaign?
JK: ... I'm sure we did, but, we would piggyback. ... It was hit or miss. Not regularly, nothing like what's done now. I don't think they go to the bathroom without taking a poll, at the state or national levels. No, we did it mostly for campaigns. We'd ... get a base reading in the spring, and one after Labor Day, and then, we did some heavy polling down to the wire, nothing like it's grown to be.
KP: Now, it is an ongoing thing.
JK: ... I think ... it shows through, ... especially with Clinton. Yesterday's poll is what today's policy is. Today's poll ... could produce a different policy tomorrow. No, they had to figure out what they believed themselves, and then, try to get the polls to conform. Not that ... politicians were ... such noblemen all through, but, the lack of courage these days is tremendous.
KP: You saw people in both parties take courageous stances at times.
JK: Sure. Cahill did and Dumont did. Dumont had always been for sales tax. He wasn't gonna [back down], ... and so, that lost him the tax issue.
KP: People have observed that New Jersey governors are often very friendly with each other, once they have left office.
JK: So are ex-presidents, more or less. Look at Clinton. ...
--------------------------------------END TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO----------------------------------------
KP: This continues an interview with Mr. Joseph Katz on November 8th, 1995, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. As a full time lobbyist, what was your opinion on how things worked on the other side, trying to get the state government to respond to your client's concerns?
JK: Well, having been in government, it was easier for me to get a response. When I started out, I had a very friendly legislature. Sure, there were people who weren't so friendly, even in my own party at the time, the Democrats, but, ... I knew how state government worked, because I had been in it, and I had all the advantages of four years of the incumbency of the man I elected, which is nothing to be sneezed at. I'm glad I didn't wait until the end of his second term before I went into the lobby. So, the same people I had been dealing with, as Secretary of the Cabinet. were running the departments I was calling up ... to ask questions or to set up meetings. It didn't mean they gave the store away to me, but, my telephone calls were answered quickly. ... I could frame issues in terms that I knew would receive consideration, because I knew what the policies were. I don't say other people couldn't do it, but I had a pretty rare set ... of advantages. I didn't realize it, again, in retrospect.
KP: You really picked the right time.
JK: Oh, yeah, sure. You don't know what you're doing. ... I had visions of opening a little office, which I did, and sitting there all day, waiting for the phone to ring. I was a big sport. I took my secretary from the Governor's office. She was willing to come with me, and I think I paid her seventy-five or eighty dollars a week, a little more than she was getting. I had overhead costs. ... I had an office in the NJEA building. They didn't use the whole building in those days, [laughter] and they rented me a half office. I didn't have to wait for the phone to ring. It rang like hell. That's pretty good.
KP: Were you surprised that it rang?
JK: Yeah. ... My first year, I bought a car. ... I had a state car when I worked for the Governor, and my wife had our family station wagon, so, I didn't need a second car. So, I had to buy a car and I was too worried to ... buy one equipped with air conditioning. I bought a new Pontiac. So, later, things went well. I had air conditioning installed in the summer of '66. It was all right.
KP: What were some of your favorite groups to lobby on behalf of? What groups did you really think you could do something for?
JK: Oh, I did a lot for the car dealers. We passed the Franchise Practices Act, which did a lot for all kinds of franchises. In fact, so much that, when we tried to amend it, ... lobbyists were coming in from all over the country, representing McDonald's and, even, people who sharpened knives as a franchise, or something like that. ... So, we couldn't get everything through. So, then, we tailored ... that law to just apply to motor vehicle franchises and that was a long standing relationship.
KP: This law protected franchises?
JK: Yes, and they're still amending that law. I represented the Medical Society for many years and one of my greatest challenges was representing the Tobacco Institute. ... I was already representing them when the Medical Society came to me and I said, "Oops, there may be a conflict here." "If you wanna hire me, fine, but, you know, ... if you're gonna do something about tobacco, I can't work on that issue," and it was agreeable to them. ... I got them to become a pretty big player in the political field. In the beginning, they were nothing and had some big issues. And the nursing homes, we took them a ... long way. They were one of my first clients.
KP: Did you have any problems representing tobacco? Did you ever face any problems because tobacco was harmful?
JK: Yeah, well, ... people would ask me that all the time. They're a legal business. I ... never tried to claim that it was good for you or that it was not harmful, although, if some people tried to say so, I never said it wasn't true. As long as they were allowed, it was legal for them to do business, they were entitled to have their case made. Largely, it was through trying to keep the taxes from going too high. In fact, Governor Meyner recommended me and Bill Kohn to represent the Tobacco Tax Council. He was the arbiter of their advertising program at the time.
KP: Initially, as the tobacco representative, you were mainly concerned with keeping taxes down.
JK: Yeah, it was the tax council. Later, the Tax Council was absorbed by the Tobacco Institute, which was the main lobbying group. They're all supported by the same members, you know, largely Philip Morris and RJR. It was a real, real challenge. It's easy to lobby for the Salvation Army, you know. [laughter] In fact, that was quite a recommendation to other national firms. If you could represent tobacco, you could represent anybody.
KP: I imagine they set quite a challenge for you.
JK: For a professional challenge, yeah, and, oh, my biggest fights, in the early days, was with S&H Green Stamps, against the gas dealers. ... S&H had a big, national lobbying organization, one of the first. Tobacco, later, had one, Mobil Oil had one. That's where I met a lot of lobbyists from all over the country.
KP: The S&H Green Stamps, what was their issue about?
JK: The issue was, the gas stations wanted to outlaw them ... as an illegal discount. They had won a lawsuit saying it wasn't. You were not allowed to give discounts on gas under a self -protective law that was enacted by gas dealers, but, there was a court decision that held that trading stamps were not. ... You probably don't even know what trading stamps are, Tara. ...
KP: You got them when you bought things at the grocery store.
JK: Yeah, mostly at the gas station, but, the grocery stores, and you'd put them in a book, and then, you could go in and get gifts. ...
KP: Everything from little perfumes to boats.
JK: ... Depends on how many you saved, and so, they wanted to preserve the status quo, ... and they hired me. Once, when I first started lobbying, S&H came to me, ... before I got my feet wet, ... the head of the gasoline dealers is a guy named Jerry Ferrara, became a good friend of mine. He still runs ads and you've seen him on TV. His brother was a Republican assemblyman from Bergen County, and he was leaving the Assembly. Mike Ferrara had become Bergen County counsel, and so, the boys wanted to give him a parting gift, so they let ... his brother's bill out of committee. [laughter] I had just gotten S&H Green Stamps, and, before I knew it, it had passed both houses, and, ... "Whew." ... We had to mount a campaign with Hughes to veto it. We got a lot of powerful people, the Beineckes, who owned S&H, they lived in Summit, ... including Charlie Englehard, of Englehard Industries, and ... we showed them how it was kind of ... an anti-consumer bill. It wasn't gonna give the consumer lower prices, it was going to take these premiums away from them, and we got enough people to write the Governor, and we got it vetoed. We kept it bottled up after that.
KP: Since we are on gasoline, New Jersey still does not have self-serve.
JK: Oh, I lobbied to get that, one of my failures. Well, you see, the green stamps became a moot issue after the gas shortages, ... I guess beginning with the Yom Kippur War in 1973. There was people lined up to get gas. They didn't have to give out stamps anymore, and it withered away, but, I was hired ... by Mobil Oil some years later. ... Robert Wilentz was their lobbyist, and he became chief justice when Brendan Byrne was governor, and so, they replaced him with me, 'cause, I guess, I had represented tobacco, and green stamps, and others. One of their issues, ... the oil industry's issues, was to get self-service, and we couldn't do it. Actually, New Jersey ... had the lowest prices for gas of any state around. The others have self-service. The main reason it's low here is because ... the state gas tax is low, relatively low, and I'm not so sure that the people would save that much money if you had self-service. Actually, I think it's more convenient to have it, but, I'm surprised that Jerry Ferrara ... built opposition to the bill, directly from the state government. The Department of Labor testified against it. They had a big effort about five or six years ago.
KP: Were you a part of that effort?
JK: Sure, in fact, I had the Star Ledger ready to endorse it, repeal, and there was a referendum in Oregon that year, which is the only other non self-serve state, and the self-service referendum lost out there. There went our effort here. ... I'm not naming all the people I lobbied for. I'm going to ignore people. There are a lot of good groups, the bus industry. ... We represented everybody from, I'd like to say, ... cradle to grave. We represented the Medical Society, which delivered babies, to the Cemetery Association.
KP: What were the Cemetery Association's big issues?
JK: Well, the first one is that the ... undertakers, their rivals, were ... trying to put through a bill ... that would've put all kinds of restrictions on the cemeteries, to the benefit of the funeral directors, nice word for undertakers, and ... it was almost enacted. They got us at the last minute, and we were able to work out some sort of a compromise, The New Jersey Cemetery Act, in which the cemeteries agreed that they would not sell monuments, and the funeral directors went along with the other aspects of it, with the cemeteries essentially regulating themselves through a board.
KP: In other words, cemeteries cannot sell monuments.
JK: That's right. Well, there was a court decision, anyhow, that didn't allow them to sell them, so, I felt they weren't giving that much away, and they agreed to it then. But, they continue to ... reopen ... that issue.
KP: New Jersey was one of the last states to have physicians assistants. Did you have anything to do with that?
JK: No. ... I kept that from happening for a long time. In fact, ... about a year or so, or less than a year before I retired, my firm started to break up. ... I was getting on, and I was looking to bring in somebody, and two guys that worked for me broke off and took pieces of the action. ... Clark Martin, the son of Jake Martin. I had had him representing the Medical Society and ... they decided to go with him. He's a lot younger and had a day-to-day relationship. ... After that, they, physician's assistants, got the right to practice. ... I'm also proud of the fact that I didn't allow optometrists to prescribe drugs. They got that right afterwards, too. These turf battles always were a big thing. Yeah, we represented the medical side and the ophthalmologists, who were against that.
KP: Why were you so affected in both of them after you had stopped lobbying?
JK: No, this is when I was a lobbyist.
KP: How did you prevent them from passing these bills?
JK: Well, in various ways. ... Let's talk about the first issue. ...
KP: The physician's assistants.
JK: Physician's assistants. I mobilized the physicians, by and large, and the physician's assistants, really, the public they had ... was the medical school, which was training physician's assistants for other states, because they couldn't practice here. ... There was no shortage of physicians. We argued that there'd be a ... deterioration in care, and, actually, the Medical Society was ready to compromise that away, and there was a grass roots rebellion, after we had agreed to a compromise. Vince Maressa, the executive director of the society, had agreed to it, but we had to reverse course. The physicians were not a real factor. They were important people, but I could never get them to really work, like car dealers, and call up legislators. And they wouldn't make political contributions. ... We broke through slowly. In one election, they made a total of $21,000. ... I forget which election it was, maybe '81. They raised 21,000 dollars for both houses of the legislature and the governorship. Now, they must be raising half a million. Money is important, and you have to tell them how to steer the use of it in important races. ...
KP: How much of a hand would you have in allocating these funds?
JK: A lot. We'd have a meeting, and sit down, we'd make recommendations, which they generally followed, and we'd help them raise it, too. I mean, we didn't make the telephone calls, but, we'd write the bulletin and notices in the bulletin.
KP: Did you ever have a case where some people came to you and said, "We want to do this," and you just had to say, "Look, you cannot do it?"
JK: Why can't they do it? I mean, it's legal. ...
KP: No, I mean in terms of feasibility.
JK: Oh, getting something done?
KP: Something done that is just not ...
JK: ... Not do-able. I told the cemeteries, they wanted to pay me all kinds of money to get the right to sell monuments, I said, "I can't get it done," and then, they went and hired somebody else, I think one of my successor firms, or somebody else, and I don't think they got it done, but, there were other things. I can't remember most of them.
JK: I guess I put that into my subconscious. [laughter] ...
KP: However, you did, occasionally, have to tell a group, "You can pay me all the money you want, but, it will not work."
JK: Well, I told Mobil, and the oil industry, "It's very difficult. We're not going to ... get self-service. I can try, but, there are other things you can do," and people are pretty sophisticated.
KP: You mentioned that doctors were hard to mobilize. During the ophthalmologist/optometrist dispute, you had two groups of professionals who could have been mobilized.
JK: Well, they did. They out-mobilized the doctors. ... I was hired by the ophthalmologists separately, but, since we were working with the Medical Society, I could get them to back it, and they were a bigger group. We were able to fend it off. We had some close calls. I remember, ... you needed forty-one votes to pass a bill in the Assembly, and they had forty votes one day, and it hung on the board, and it hung on the board, and the guy they were working on was Willie Brown, from the Central Ward of Newark, and he was my man, ... and they were working him up and down, and I'm standing there with my heart pounding. See, I was sitting up in the balcony, and he hung, ... and, after twenty minutes or a half hour, Alan Karcher, the speaker, who had voted for the bill, ordered it pulled. They never got that close again. There were a couple of people absent that day. They came back, but, we worked like hell to turn a few our way.
KP: Did you represent any labor unions when you were a lobbyist?
JK: Well, for one year, I was hired by the NJEA to be a consultant. They were getting into politics, I think it was '73, and they were starting. They had never contributed to candidates before and things like that, and so, I was their consultant for a year, then. ... Walter O'Brien was their director of lobbying. He was a good friend. He later died. ... They had their own lobbyists, but, I consulted with them. Well, the shorthand reporters were a sort of a union. ... They did labor negotiations with the courts. I didn't represent them on that, but, I did on the battle over ... tapes.
KP: For transcribing?
JK: ... Transcribing, yeah. None of the major unions. Sometimes, I'd align myself with them, and, sometimes, I'd be on the other side.
KP: Were there any particularly hard groups to work with, in terms of either personalities, or the issues, or the type? You mentioned that doctors were hard to mobilize.
JK: Oh, yeah. I had to mobilize them, ... because they're busy. Yeah, there were some. The hearing aid dispensers, God, [laughter] wow, the guy said, "How much do you want?" I was getting ... fees of like $2000 or $3000 a month. These are poor, old guys and I asked 1000 dollars a month. The guy said, "$1000 a month, that's more than $200 a week." They were little businessmen. Their concepts were difficult. ... They were trying to stop an audiology bill, licensing audiologists. They were licensed. ... My opponent was Nancy Becker, ... and they had all kinds of people from colleges, including Rutgers and Trenton State, ... with Ph.D.s, Dr. This and Dr. That, and I had Joe Schwartz, the hearing aid dispenser. [laughter] It was difficult. They finally passed the bill. There were others. ... In the latter stages, the Restaurant Association was difficult to work with, the Hotel Association. ...
KP: How does Rutgers do in Trenton, in terms of lobbying?
JK: Nothing that a good football team wouldn't cure.
JK: No, I think it's a big factor. Rutgers does all right. I mean, sure, it's the State University. People would love to cheer it on and there's a lot of that gung-ho. I'm sure Penn State is very popular in Harrisburg. Yeah, ... I think the state's done well by Rutgers. I've seen it from the first legislation, when I was a reporter. In fact, there was a big ... civil liberties issue. A former judge, by the name of Bigelow, was appointed as one of the first governors, and Wayne Dumont led the fight against his confirmation, as a member of the Board of Governors, because I think he had denounced McCarthy, or something like that, Wayne Dumont of the Genovese issue, yeah. So, I remember that. Well, I think it's doing well now, ... under Whitman. You got your full budget, and, look, the University ... can never say it's doing as well as ... it would like. Otherwise, we'll accuse it of not asking for enough. [laughter]
KP: You have commented on a number of governors.
JK: Well, Brendan Byrne, I didn't talk about him.
JK: ... He was a very good friend of mine. You know, he'd been a cabinet officer in Hughes' Administration. I knew him in his early days with Meyner. I've never said this before, he knows it, and other people know it, but, when he was deciding whether or not to run, he was a judge, you know, he had to come down and resign, and Cahill had not yet lost the primary. It looked like he'd run against him, and ... Cahill was good to me, so, I wasn't going to take any open role. But, Brendan was a good friend of mine. I called him up. When we knew that Henry Helstoski was going to get out of the race, he was a congressman. Hudson County then would be behind Byrne. I knew he was gonna run. I called him up and I, on the phone, ... said, "I think you should come down to the state house and get on the steps down here. You've got the whole press here, rather than doing something in Newark or anywhere like that, and announce that ... you're resigning from the bench and announce your candidacy." "Why should I do that?" he asked. "'Cause it's very effective. You got everybody here." He said, "What'll I say?" I said, "I've written you a statement." I had written a pretty good statement, and I read it to him on the phone, and he liked it, and [laughter] I got it up to him. He came down, and he read it, and I was watching him, my office is across the street, and I was proudly watching from my doorway, and [laughter] he's never forgotten that. We were good friends, and he was a very effective governor, not very popular, but, he did ... some tremendously unpopular things. Well, Hughes tried, and failed, to pass an income tax, by the way. You know, you've heard the story on that. Unlike Florio, Byrne waited until he was forced to do it by the courts.
KP: Do you think that it was central to his political survival and to the bill actually passing?
JK: Sure. ... Well, he had no choice. Things had gotten to such a pass that the schools were not going to open in the fall. In the summer, this ... was in '76, and I remember waking up at two or three in the morning, on a Saturday night, in my, then, bachelor apartment, and turning on the television, and there were these legislators on the floor in Trenton, scratching themselves, enacting an income tax. So, Ray Bateman thought he could make an issue of it. ... Yeah, he did, afterwards, and ... that was another story. ... He had tried to move to the right of Tom Kean in the Republican primary of '77, and said he'd repeal the income tax. He couldn't deliver. He was too honest to come up with phony reasons for not delivering. ... Byrne, with ridicule and with a display of courage, pulled off the impossible. You know, he was known as "OTB," and it doesn't mean off-track betting. That meant, Tara, "One Term Byrne," and ... he pulled it off. It was amazing.
TL: Would you say that Byrne and Hughes are kind of parallel?
JK: Well, in personality, they were completely different.
TL: Well, that their terms were parallel, because they both looked as if they were going to lose the re-election, yet, they won, even though they were handling controversial issues.
JK: With Hughes, ... we were worried about it, but he was not a prohibitive underdog. He was ... more of an underdog when he got elected the first time and Byrne was a favorite in his first run. Charlie Sandman ... had beaten Cahill in the primary. That cost him a lot of support, and he was a disaster, and Byrne was a walkover in '73. ... He won by a zillion. I don't think he won ... by that much in '77, but, he won by a lot.
KP: I heard Byrne speak several times while he was governor and he had a very comic style.
JK: Oh, yeah, you have to listen, and my hearing gets progressively worse, and it's hard to hear Byrne's jabs. He's a very funny man, you know, his dry wit. I couldn't help him with that. I'm no expert. ... Listen to me on this tape. [laughter] People tried, but, no, he's not gonna be a matinee idol. He's done all right for himself, and he was a good governor, and he passed a number of programs, over my dead body.
KP: Really? Which ones?
JK: Oh, New Jersey Transit. I represented the private bus industry. We fought. We had the bill killed once, for about the lunch hour. [laughter] It was voted down in committee, and ... Harold Hodes, ... the chief of staff, found another bill that was in a position for a vote, and so, they resurrected that, but, we thought we had it. The Pinelands, I was hired by the developers and builders down there. ... I didn't always have winners.
KP: The Pinelands and New Jersey Transit are considerable feats.
JK: Sure. Well, we had them worried on both, on the Pinelands, especially. I tried everything I could. I remember, ... this is a huge tract of land, it's about a third of the state's land, so, I ... got somebody to draw the outline of the Pinelands tract, and I overlaid it on North Jersey. I said, ... "Look what you're doing to South Jersey here." It went from, like, the state line up in Mahwah down to Hunterdon County. [laughter] I said, "You're cutting off the South from all development."
KP: What is your opinion of the North/South split in New Jersey?
JK: Well, ... in the South, they're paranoid, and [laughter] they think that everything is North. The farther south you go, the more north there seems to be. I remember, once, I was down in Woodbine, New Jersey, in Cape May County, and this is, and I ran into some guy, somewhat feeble minded, and he said, "Where you from?" I said, "From Trenton." "Oh, yeah, up in North Jersey." [laughter] ... I represented a bunch of German sausage makers once. They were trying ... to retain state inspection of bologna factories and things like that. ... They were based up around Newark, and Paterson. ... Somebody was trying to put inspection under the USDA. They were talking about some problem in "South Jersey," and I asked where, "What are you talking about?" "Oh, New Brunswick." But the paranoia is usually in South Jersey. ... They're under-populated, and they're over-dominated, and they even felt that way when they had one senator per county.
KP: They felt that they were still being shortchanged.
JK: Yeah. ... Well, I don't know how many counties they considered South Jersey to be, about ... nine.
KP: What about Tom Kean?
JK: He was an effective governor. He got to be a popular governor. ...
KP: Did that surprise you, how popular he became?
JK: I mean, he was a lucky governor, very lucky. ... You know, he promised to cut the sales tax when he was elected, and, instead, in his first year, [he had to deal with] the exigencies of government, meaning they had to balance the budget, and he also inherited, since he just barely squeaked by, with under 2000 votes, ... a Democratic legislature in both houses. So, they had to do the dirty work. He wound up signing not only a sales tax increase, but, an income tax increase. He says, "I'm holding my nose, but I'm signing it." That was passed by a Democratic legislature, and then, things ... turned good. We had the big boom of the '80s, and the money started to roll in, and Tom Kean lavished money on Rutgers, on the Arts Council, and on the symphony, on this and that, and it was a happy time. He's, personally a very nice, appealing man of generally liberal inclination.
KP: It seems like he could be the last liberal Republican.
JK: Colin Powell.
TL: At three o'clock, he is announcing whether he is running or not.
JK: Is that what it is? I heard he might do it today. Yeah, but he, Kean, could be opportunistic, at times. Yes, I liked him. I knew him from his father's campaign.
KP: Are you surprised that he had the political career that he had?
JK: Yes, well, remember, it wasn't just by accident. He ran against Bateman in '77. He ran against Millicent Fenwick for Congress. He lost a couple of primaries. I'm surprised that he became as wildly popular in '85, but, now, we can see why, and ... he had good handlers, too, Greg Stevens for one, in his first term. He'd get this patrician type guy, with a funny accent, to take his jacket off, and roll up his sleeves, ... and fight pollution in the Passaic River, things like that. So, they did the right things. Peter Shapiro had nothing to hit him with. ... So, he'd build on that and I wonder what would ... happen if he ran for Senate next year. 'Course, he made his share of enemies, as did Meyner, but, not to the same degree.
KP: What about Florio, who had been in the Assembly, I believe?
JK: Well, yeah, I knew him then. We always said, "Well, we've known each other for ages." I found him difficult to deal with. I found that about the people around him, not Joe Salema, surprisingly, whom he brought in later; I could talk to him. ... One of the reasons I decided to get out of the business was the ... reaming, or the creaming, or the beating I and my clients, and, well, most other lobbyists took in '90. "This is the way it's gonna be and there's no appeal." ... You'd get somebody to carry your cause a little bit in the Democratic caucus, try to deal with the Governor. I think ... most of it came from Doug Berman, who was the state treasurer. There was such an arrogance. Florio, because of physical factors, tended to look arrogant, and tended to sound that way. I think that the real arrogance was Berman and his people in the Treasury Department, and I'd see them stomp on people. We tried to get certain things modified on the ... tax increase, you know, the liquor taxes and tobacco, and we'd come in with an idea to substitute this way of doing it, like, "Put cigarettes under the sales tax and don't increase the excise tax that much. You'll get the same revenue." They'd turn around, take your idea, and keep their idea, too, and hit you twice. [laughter] You know, we have to make a living, and we had the right to do business, and that was repeated in so many instances. ...
KP: It sounds like you were not surprised that Florio lost the way he did when he ran for re-election.
JK: I'm surprised that he was considered twenty or thirty points ahead. [laughter] I couldn't believe it. ... I believed the polls. I thought Whitman was dead and she won. I wasn't surprised what happened in '91.
TL: How do you think Whitman is doing right now?
JK: Oh, she's doing very well. I mean, she's fuzzing all the tough things ... and she's carved out a nice middle path. I don't know ... if the courts will throw a tough decision in her lap, between now and two years hence, on school aid, which is what forces the big tax action, and that'll be her test, and I'm sure she's made enemies of the state employees, but, that can be turned to your advantage, not in Mercer County, as we saw yesterday. They didn't do too badly, Republicans. They held on to what they had and she's doing pretty well.
KP: When did you finally leave the business?
JK: Lobbying? Well, what I did, I sold the business to Harold Hodes and Roger Bodman, who, subsequently, combined their firms, and we arranged it so I would phase out. That ... took effect January 1, 1991. Then, I worked there, handling my old clients in a diminishing way, phasing in Bodman and Hodes and their people for two years, and then, ... I would, then, get a salary and a percentage of the fees, and then, for two more years, I just got a percentage of the fees. So, that took me through the end of '94, one, two, three, and four, yeah, and so, I guess I stopped doing anything and that connection in January of '95.
KP: You have been lobbying until quite recently.
JK: Well, I stopped lobbying until the ... beginning of '93, until the end of '92, and, by that time, I wasn't doing that much, sure. ... Well, my daughter still works for their firm.
TL: Do you miss it?
JK: ... No, I never missed anything I left. I was lucky. I, occasionally, write a little piece of journalism. I find it hard to do, to muster myself up. ... I'm still pretty healthy. I'm still casting about for something to do more ... as a dalliance. I'm on the Rutgers Board of Trustees, but, that doesn't involve anything in government. There's one guy who recently called it the "Show and Tell" meetings. [laughter] ... It's time filling, but, it's interesting, but, I'd like to do more.
KP: Have you thought of teaching at all?
JK: I just taught a course with Steve Salmore, last year, ... in lobbying. They had it in Trenton. They decided not to do it again. It was sort of like my wife cooking supper. She assembles it, you know. I would bring in a different lobbyist, Steve and I, we'd have them talk, and we would sort of preside, and we didn't really lecture that much. It was good. It was fun. If they had asked, I probably would have done it again. ... I'm impressed by teachers. I regard it as formidable. It's almost frightening, stand up everyday and talk on a subject. I don't know that I could do that. ... How do you [do] research on top of that?
KP: It can be difficult at times.
JK: I guess you really know your subject after a while, and you can do it, and so, you can branch out and do your research. I don't know, I guess, to some people, it looks easy, just like lobbying looks easy to some people.
KP: It sounds like you really did enjoy lobbying quite a bit.
JK: ... I had my heart failures all along. I mean, there was nothing worse than ... that forty votes when they needed forty-one on the ophthalmologist/optometrist [issue], and, I remember, I used to make my Sundays miserable by worrying about the bills that were coming up on Mondays. ... I'd get through Monday, it wasn't that bad. I've always been a worrier. My life could have been a lot more pleasant.
KP: It sounds like you look back now with few regrets.
JK: Oh, yeah. Well, I have the advantage of hindsight, and, sure, ... Monday would always be great. We'd go to Lorenzo's, [laughter] 'cause, generally, things worked out. Either you won, or you didn't lose, or something, and, ... if you think I'm a worrier, Clark Martin was worse. He'd make me feel bad. [laughter]
KP: Is there anything we forgot to ask you about?
TL: He has done great by me.
JK: I have a million stories, but, I can't do them all. ...
KP: I may want to interview you again. I am involved in the restoration of Morven as a historical consultant.
JK: What have they done about the lawn that they've dug up?
KP: I am not sure what is going to happen. I have been pushing them to do a lot of work.
--------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW-------------------------------------------
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 1/28/00
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 2/4/00
Corrected by Joseph Katz 6/22/00