WHO IS NEW JERSEY’S MOST
memorable and (probably) least qualified
presidential candidate ever?
In almost any category except for vote-getting, it was tough to beat Henry J. Krajewski, a Secaucus pig farmer and tavern
owner who ran for president as a third-party candidate in 1952, 1956 and 1960.
Krajewski (pronounced Kry-EF-skee)
specialized in skewering the political
establishment. He was just 39 when he
began his first presidential bid 64 years
ago in March 1952. Sporting a 10-gallon
hat and armed with more than 1,000
signatures, he arrived at the State House
in Trenton to announce his candidacy as
“the poor man’s candidate.” His calling
card, a piglet named Stephanie, promptly
relieved herself on the documents.
“The Democrats have been hogging
the administration in Washington for
20 years, and it’s about time the people
began to squeal,” proclaimed the
6-foot- 4, 240-pound Krajewski. He was
off and running.
Joe McKay of North Haledon, the
son of a pig farmer and a family friend,
remembers stapling “Krajewski for
President” posters on telephone poles
near the tavern.
“Henry used to say he believed in
the two-party system—one on Friday
Pig farmer Henry J. Krajewski wanted our
votes—and he’d promise free beer to get them.
By Jim Wright
HOGGING THE SPOTLIGHT: Henry
Krajewski on the presidential campaign trail in 1952. He garnered 4,203
votes in that year’s national election.
nights and one on Saturday nights,”
In those days, pigs were the perfect
campaign symbol for a candidate from
Secaucus. In the early 1950s, the town’s
population was 12,000 people and 75,000
swine. The candidate himself kept 4,000
pigs on his five-acre farm. Garbage from
New York City, just five miles away,
provided the perfect pig fodder until the
notorious stench—and the arrival of the
New Jersey Turnpike—led to the demise
of the farms.
Over the years, Krajewski’s campaign
handouts included pig-shaped stickers that proclaimed, “No piggy deals in
Washington.” His platforms typically offered something for everyone—from free
milk for all schoolchildren to free beer
for needy adults.
Krajewski even had a campaign theme
song, the incredibly catchy “Hay, Krajewski! Hay! Hay!” (The spelling of hay was a
play on Krajewski’s farming roots.) The
polka, written and performed by Bernie
Witkowski and His Silver Bells, was released as a 45 rpm single. Besides the lyrics, which consisted mostly of “Hay, hay,
Krajewski,” the recording featured grunts
and squeals from one of the pig farmer’s
four-legged charges. You can still hear
a rendition of the polka on You Tube, as
performed by the Polish American String
Band in the 2014 Philadelphia Pulaski
Despite Krajewski’s “promise ’em anything” approach, the plucky pig farmer
received only 4,203 votes in 1952—his
best presidential run. In fact, he lost every time he ran for office—including bids
for U.S. senator, New Jersey governor,
Hudson County freeholder, Secaucus
mayor and town councilman.
A diabetic, Krajewski had to have his
right leg amputated in 1965. The following
year, he ran for the U.S. Senate on a “no
sales tax” platform but withdrew because
of failing health. Just after the November
elections a half-century ago, Krajewski
died at home of a heart attack. He was 54.
In reporting Krajewski’s death, the
Sunday Times of Trenton wrote that the
perennial candidate “proved that anyone
can run for president.” ;
Jim Wright writes “The Bird Watcher”
column for the Record. He is the author of
books about the Meadowlands and Allendale’s Celery Farm Natural Area.