In 1893, one of the greatest upsets in New York State electoral history occurred locally when a bartender defeated one of the most powerful men in Albany. I have written previously about the infamous local politician Patrick McCarren who obtained for North Brooklyn the park that bears his name, and the Williamsburg Bridge.
Now a forgotten character, State Senator McCarren, though effective in bringing home pork to North Brooklyn, was in his day one of the most breathtakingly corrupt politicians in the long history of corrupt New York politicians. One of the first corporate lobbyists in American history, McCarren was reviled for his shamelessness in helping Standard Oil and the Sugar Trust at the expense of the public good. The New York Press in 1904 summed up what many reformers thought of the senator: “We shrink from even the thought of what would happen to our national institutions and ideals if its Pat McCarren’s should succeed in cornering the nation at the ballot box.” Sadly, looking at politics today, McCarren seems a very contemporary figure; however McCarren, was defeated by a non-politician in an electoral shocker. Continue reading