Home>Highlight>Onetime N.J. GOP leader dies of Covid after being exposed to someone who refused vaccination

Former New Jersey Young Republicans Chairman Clark R. Allen. (Photo: Scobee Combs Bowden Funeral Home).

Onetime N.J. GOP leader dies of Covid after being exposed to someone who refused vaccination

Clark R. Allen, a key player in New Jersey politics from 1964 to 1966, dies at 84

By David Wildstein, August 04 2021 8:29 am

Clark R. Allen, the founder of the Clinton First Aid and Rescue Squad and a major player in New Jersey Republican politics in the 1960s, died of complications related to COVID-19 after exposure to someone who declined to be vaccinated.

He was 84.

“He was infected by someone who chose to not get vaccinated, and his death was preventable,” his family said in an obituary announcing Allen’s July 22 death.  “It is the wish of his family that everyone gets vaccinated in order to prevent further death, sickness and heartbreak.”

Allen was the president of the Hunterdon County Young Republicans and the New Jersey Young Republicans State Chairman from 1965 to 1966.

In 1965, at age 28, he became a candidate for the Republican nomination for Hunterdon County Freeholder after a long-time incumbent Ralph Muller announced his retirement.

The local GOP organization backed Hampton Mayor William Winter, who defeated Allen by about 1,450 votes, 70%-30%, in the Republican primary.

Allen was allied with the conservative wing of the New Jersey GOP in the early 1960s and supported Barry Goldwater for President at a time when Thomas Kean worked on William Scranton’s campaign and Christine Todd Whitman campaigned for Nelson Rockefeller.

But after Goldwater’s defeat, Allen led a group of young conservatives interested in uniting New Jersey Republicans and helping to stave off a 1966 GOP primary for a liberal two-term U.S. Senator, Clifford Case.

In 1965, Allen ran for Young Republicans State Chairman against incumbent Richard Plechner, the leader of a wing of the GOP known as the Rat Finks.  The group made national news after publishing a song book with lyrics that included slurs against Blacks and Jews.

Campaigning as a “reasonable conservative,” Allen beat Plechner by three votes, 43-40.   He had entered the race late after Plechner’s original opponent, Burlington County Young Republican Chairman Joseph Gavin, couldn’t get the votes.

As state chairman, Allen had sought to purge the Rat Finks members from his organization and was re-elected in 1966 by a narrow 43-41 margin against Phyllis Cedola, the Essex County Young Republican Chair.

Cedola, who made unsuccessful runs for State Assembly and Essex County Clerk in the 1990s, was an ally of Richard Plechner, the Rat Finks leader whom Allen had ousted in 1964.  Plechner later served as a Superior Court Judge.

Whitman’s father, GOP State Chairman Webster Todd, ordered an investigation into the Rat Finks and brought in State Sen. Nelson Stamler (R-Scotch Plains), a former prosecutor, to lead the probe.

That investigation put Allen in the national news.

At the end of 1966, Allen resigned as state chairman.  He had faced a defamation lawsuit and had filed his own countersuit.   The legal actions were eventually dismissed.

In 1969, Allen managed the campaign of former Senate President William Ozzard, a former three-term Somerset County state senator and Board of Public Utilities Commissioner, for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.  Ozzard finished last in a field of five candidates with 4.5% of the vote but carried Somerset by a wide margin.

A former Washington Post sportswriter, Allen was born in Trenton and graduated from North Hunterdon Regional High School.  He built a career in advertising and marketing for consumer packaged good.

Later, as a retiree in Florida, Allen worked for the Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections as a precinct clerk and supervisor.

He is survived by his seven children, 17 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

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