Curious about how patronage systems in machine politics work? About why perfectly nice people continue to vote the way Machine Bosses want them to? If ambitious politicians behave, prove their loyalty to the higher ups, and do what they’re told, they’ll move right up the hierarchy into a lucrative career as a NJ political career holding multiple positions, having never had to run a competitive campaign race. It’s great work . . . if you can follow orders, do things that benefit power brokers rather than the public, and never, ever ask questions!
Here’s how it works:
(1) A state legislator resigns or retires, leaving an opening. (In this case, Patricia Egan Jones is retiring, possibly because there are worries about a primary run against her; she’s seen as a liability.)
(2) Another “insider” politician from another board/council is appointed to that position. (Bill Moen, Freeholder and Booker aide has been given the party endorsement and the coveted Ballot Line, so he’ll likely be our next Assemblyperson in LD5.)
(3) An opening is left on the Freeholder Board!
(4) Someone from another place in the Machine (this time it is someone from Cherry Hill Council) is elevated to Freeholder. Now remember, Freeholders control an incredible amount of money through public contracts. So do Council members. The CEOs of the companies getting those public contracts are often regular contributors to political campaigns.
(5) Meanwhile, in Cherry Hill, the incumbent Mayor steps down.
(6) Another Freeholder (Susan Shin Angulo) is tapped to take that position.
(7) That leaves TWO Freeholder spots open to reward loyal soldiers in Camden County,
… and …
(8) ONE Cherry Hill Council slot to reward a newbie who’s shown some loyalty. A patronage hat trick!
This system keeps incentive structures for politicians in place, another reminder that loyalty is rewarded, keeps powerful people calling the shots, keeps contracts lucrative and going to the right companies. Worst of all . . . it keeps voters disengaged and confused, exactly the way the machine wants it.
So, if you want to change the system, pay attention to the Assembly races. The ENTIRE Assembly is up for reelection in 2019! Elections have consequences.