Polling and Patronage for Roosevelt and the New Deal

  • Melvin G. Holli
Part of the The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute Series on Diplomatic and Economic History book series (WOOROO)


Having helped win the presidential election , Hurja during the years 1933 to 1934 also made himself exceedingly useful in other areas of the Roosevelt presidency. He had become, for example, a principal in the direction of patronage policy for the administration. Hurja first worked for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, replacing Hoover appointees with New Deal loyalists. He then switched to the Department of Interior to handle political appointments under Secretary Harold Ickes, a Republican anti-machine reformer from Chicago who was adamantly opposed to the spoils system. As the New Deal’s “point man” in the potentially patronage-rich Interior Department, Hurja had to maneuver very carefully to get appointments by the “curmudgeonly” Ickes. Ickes had his fill of ward heelers and no-show jobs from the free-and-easy machine politics of 1920s Chicago. Thus Hurja was careful to screen out the blatantly “unqualified,” although occasionally a no-show political hack slipped through—not surprising, given the thousands of new jobs created by FDR’s “alphabetical agencies.” Easing the political appointment process, Roosevelt supported congressional measures to “exempt” many of the newly minted agency jobs from civil service. Hurja slowly brought skeptical Ickes along to accept political appointments by starting off with a 30-day “provisional” appointment system, a kind of probationary period with the understanding that if the new appointees proved unsatisfactory, they could be dismissed.


Death Sentence Electoral Vote Popular Vote Congressional Election Congressional District 
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© Melvin G. Holli 2002

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  • Melvin G. Holli

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