Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Eric Sedler guessed right!
Frederick von Nieda (1868 - 1950) was the last Republican Mayor of Camden. That's right, Camden had a Republican Mayor. And not just one, either. Mayor von Nieda was no fluke, rather, he was the last of a long line of Republicans to hold the mayor's office in the former GOP stronghold of Camden, NJ.
Republicans controlled Camden more often than not from the Civil War era up till 1936, when von Nieda was defeated by Democrat George E. Brunner, who would hold office until 1959. (Between 1863 and 1936, there were only six Democratic mayors to 13 Republicans.) Democrats continue to hold a monopoly on Camden's City Hall to this day.
Camden, unlike other urban centers, was run by the GOP. It is notable that during its Republican era, Camden was a bustling center of commerce and prosperity. Industry was booming, the city's inhabitants lived in solid, safe neighborhoods with leafy parks. Its mayors were not serially perp-walked from office. Indeed, someone may once have asked, where in New Jersey are Democrats doing a better job governing than Republicans are doing in Camden and Camden County? It is also notable that during its Democratic era, Camden has declined into a teeming slum, a place to escape from. Not only white flight, black flight too. And three out of the six most recent mayors were convicted of corruption.
The Republican Party remained strong in suburban Camden County after the decline of the city. Two Republican governors, Alfred E. Driscoll and William T. Cahill, both hailed from Camden County. Cahill, a former congressman, held the 1st District House seat now held by Democrat Rob Andrews. Cahill's successor in the House, John Hunt, would lose his seat in the 1974 election to Democrat Jim Florio.
Today, the Democratic Party is all-pervasive in Camden County; its leaders seek to export their influence statewide.

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