Nelligan’s Legacy is a story of big time New Jersey politics and vicious treachery. The novel is written with such a firm grip on the way things really are in this hotbed of ambition and intrigue that it could only have been written by someone who has spent a great deal of time in those trenches. Tom Kistner is that man.
Richard V. Nelligan, a retiring corporate big-shot, is asked to take the reins of the powerful, formerly boss controlled, Middlesex County Democratic Organization. He teams up with a young local political phenom, Thomas Jefferson Hobbs, who he hires as his executive director and right hand man and together they not only maintain the organization’s strength but take it to new heights.The reader is given unfiltered access to a big time political headquarters and its daily workings. All communications go through Democratic headquarters or they go nowhere — like personal checks big or small must go through a Federal Reserve clearing house, or they are not redeemed. These communications take many forms and are usually cryptic, slanted, vague and occasionally sinister but always obscure and ambiguous.
“I just want you and Dick to know I’m not available for that Senate spot on the ticket next year. I’d love to help you guys out but my law practice has just gotten too busy, I don’t have the time.”
“Don’t worry, Ed, we won’t call you.”
“Hobbs, who is this Musso guy from your town? he keeps sending me resumes and pictures of his wife and kids. Wants to be an Assemblyman or Freeholder. Shouldn’t he be going through the organization?"
“Yes, George, he should. Just throw the shit away.”
“You know, we haven’t had a Freeholder from this end of the county for almost thirty years.”
“It’s been about that long since you gave us a Democratic plurality.”
“Look, all I’m saying is it would help if he wasn’t Jewish, too many Hebes on the board now.”
“Listen, it’s your town. We don’t give a shit what you do................but some of the guys think it would be smart if you got rid of him — he’s trouble! that’s off the record — unofficial — it’s your town — you do what’s best for your people.......”
“We’d like you to come speak to our group. They need a lift — to feel like they matter. We.......they sometimes feel left out.”
“When and where?”
“Pulaski Hall next Tuesday at eight.”
“You got it — I’ll be there.”
“Why does Dick have to be so irascible?”
“What do you want, a sissy boy for chairman?”
“Hobbs, I’d really like to come over and see you or Dick for just a couple of minutes. I’ve got something for you.”
“Lenny, Dick’s out of town. You know that.”
“What about you? You’re just as good.”
“Lenny, if I’m seen within ten feet of you, I’m fired! we don’t want your envelope, Lenny, am I making myself clear?”
“You tell that Mick son of a bitch, if we don’t get any summer jobs again this year I’m gonna........”
“You’re gonna what, Burt? we do the best we can.......there haven’t been that many........they killed the Parks Department budget again this year.”
“Not much, what’s up?”
“I hear Jim Salerno again.”
“It don’t matter — I don’t think Porter can be beaten anyway.”
“He pissed off too many Polacks.”
“He was a lousy Governor — pissed off a lot of people, that snob, wop, bastard!”
“Word is Nelligan promised Colonel Jackson he’d push real hard to get his kid on the ballot to run against Porter.”
“I hear old man Jackson’s practically on his death bed.”
“They say Nelligan isn’t too well either...in the health department.”
“Who is the Colonel’s kid?”
“Judge Jessica Henley....nee Jackson.......of Somerset County.”
“She’s a hell of a judge.”
“Clean as a whistle.”
“Won’t have any trouble raising money.”
“Maybe it’s time for a bimb.....times are changing.”
“She’s not bad looking — widow — about forty.”
“Don’t matter — can’t win anyway.”
“Porter’s too tough.”
Cast Of Characters:
Thomas J. Hobbs — Hobbs, just Hobbs. Has one hell of a standard to live up to.
Richard V. Nelligan — Retired Corporate heavyweight, organizational and management wizard and Hobbs’ idol.
Colonel Robert Hood Jackson — Discoverer of and mentor to Richard V. Nelligan.
David T. Willman — Father of powerful political organization.
Herman Hochman — County chairman, discovers Hobbs and recruits Nelligan