Rice: it's time for Anderson to resign 'but she's going to leave anyway'

By Max Pizarro | February 17th, 2014


State Sen. Ronald Rice (D-28) backs Ras Baraka for mayor of Newark, only even more so now that Anibal Ramos – ally of Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo – threw his weight behind Shavar Jeffries.

“I told them a long time ago that Shavar would be the back-up candidate for Anibal,” said Rice, referring to the former state Assistant General who last week pocketed the endorsement of Ramos as a Ramos bowed out of the contest.

Rice said Ramos and DiVincenzo can try to downplay Ramos’ connection to the county, but Ramos works for the county, and whatever the executive has carved out in the way of countywide support won’t translate to Newark.

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With Team Irvington broken up, will Mayor Wayne Smith be the next Bob Bowser?

By Max Pizarro | February 17th, 2014


When Mayor Wayne Smith seeks re-election in Irvington on May 13th, he will face the voters without the team of local core power players that helped sustain him in politics for two decades.

Council President Bilal Beasley – traditionally Team Irvington’s most engaged organizer – backs Smith’s challenger School Board President Tony Vauss; and former Council President John Sowell – Smith’s staunch ally for years – is himself running for mayor.

In 2010, when Mayor Smith had the support of Beasley and Sowell and Team Irvington, he garnered 48% of the vote.

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NJ Quietly Fires Second Contractor Hired to Help Sandy Victims

Matt Katz | February 14, 2014


DCA Commissioner Richard Constable says the abrupt switch of contractors won't affect Sandy victims waiting for aid from the program.


The Christie administration is quietly terminating a contract with a second company involved in a much-criticized program for Sandy victims, WNYC has learned.

Those homeowners who were relying on URS Corporation to supervise the rebuilding of their homes are being notified by state officials this week that the job will be picked up by another company.

"As we note in the letter, this change will have no impact on their assigned housing adviser or their case status," said Richard Constable III, the commissioner for the Department of Community Affairs, which signed the contract, in a statement.

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With two-man Newark mayoral race in place, Baraka and Jeffries square off on education

By Mark Bonamo | February 12th, 2014


NEWARK - When education reformer Derrell Bradford, the moderator of Wednesday's Newark mayoral candidate forum on education issues, began the evening, he set a basic rule. When the four-minute speaking intervals for each candidate were finished, he would ring the bell, and civility would hopefully reign.

But in front of 500 people at a Rutgers-Newark auditorium, it appears that when Bradford rang the bell, the two remaining candidates, South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka and former Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries, heard something else. Before a revved-up crowd, the two candidates disregarded the dings and kept striking rhetorical blows, marking the first round in the final stretch of the Newark mayoral campaign.

Baraka and Jeffries ran the policy gauntlet about education on the day when both North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. and Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif dropped out of the race, therefore crystallizing the competition.

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Newark mayoral race becoming proxy potential gubernatorial contest

By Mark Bonamo | February 13th, 2014


NEWARK - The last few days of the shifting Newark mayoral race could leave a casual observer to wonder if they are standing on Newark's Broad Street or Trenton's State Street.

While events have conspired to whittle the race down to two candidates, several notable New Jersey politicians and power brokers who have either been governor, run for governor, want to be governor or who help to install governors have swarmed to the Newark race. The atmosphere could resemble a Cold War geopolitical chess game to some, with the fate of the state's largest city at stake.

On Wednesday, both North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. and Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif dropped out of the race, with South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka and former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries left to battle for Newark's top political spot.

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Ten Dynamics in Ras V. Shavar 2014

By Max Pizarro | February 12th, 2014

State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29), Newark.


Where will Luis Quintana go?

Baraka forces have left open an at-large spot on their ticket for the acting mayor of Newark, a proven North Ward-based brand name who could play havoc on Anibal Ramos' home turf. Indeed, Quintana already dealt a loss to Ramos on the day he technically became Newark's first Latino mayor, depriving his North Ward rival of the motivation of history. Most observers see Quintana formally taking up occupancy with Quinatana (Baraka ally Pablo Fonseca is also a key Quintana backer), but the mayor is just independent and unpredictable enough to run for re-election on his own, without alinging himself with either ticket.

Ruiz vulnerable

If South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka outmuscles the alliance of Shavar Jeffries and Ramos, he will want a new senator with his own imprimatur in the 29th District. That means state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29), a star in the caucus with powerful allies, will have to fight for her political life in a power shifted city. The senator and her allies would rather avoid the intensity of that future battle by staving off Baraka and company now.

The Education Question

Will controversial Newark Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson inhibit Jeffries the same way Michelle Lee pole-axed the re-election chances of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty? That’s a question on the minds of Newarkers tonight, as Jeffries and Baraka prepare for their first debate and confront the issue of education. Expect education reform movement icon David Tepper and independent expenditures pushing charter schools to amp up their involvement on behalf of Jeffries. But if the former state assistant attorney general becomes the poster boy for giving up local control, Baraka, a public school principal, will take full advantage. How Jeffries makes the case for the improvement of public schools could determine the outcome of the race.

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Baraka: 'we will not let them take over our city'

By PolitickerNJ Staff | February 12th, 2014


South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka fingered the Essex County engine room of County Executive Joe DiVincenzo as the force behind Anibal Ramos taking a knee this morning and exiting the mayor's race.

“The people of Newark are in the fight of our lives," said Baraka, a canddiate for mayor of Newark. "The political machine of Democrats who backed Chris Christie for Governor is trying to buy control of our city. They cannot take us over. We cannot be bought."

DiVincenzo backed Christie for governor last year.

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Newark mayor's race: Ramos officially drops out, backs Shavar Jeffries

By James Queally/The Star-Ledger
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on February 12, 2014

Anibal Ramos and Shavar Jeffries shake hands after the endorsement. Ramos announced he is dropping out of the Newark Mayor's race and endorsing Shavar Jeffries at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, NJ on Wednesday, February 12, 2014.


NEWARK — The Newark mayor's race just became a two-man showdown.

North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. officially dropped out of the May 2014 race to replace Cory Booker this morning and endorsed former assistant attorney general Shavar Jeffries during an event at the Robert Treat Hotel.

Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif is also making a "major campaign announcement" at the hotel at 2 p.m., and sources told The Star-Ledger he is also bowing out of the contest. The sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the decisions.

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Sharif done as mayoral candidate in Newark

By Mark Bonamo | February 12th, 2014


NEWARK - Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif officially dropped out of the Newark mayoral race on Wednesday, hours after North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. also left the race.

"After an honest assessment of our ability to raise the necessary resources to get our message out and to run a city-wide campaign, and after talking to my friends, close advisers and loyal Central Ward supporters, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for mayor and announce my candidacy for re-election as a council member for the Central Ward," Sharif said.

Sharif did not endorse any of the other Brick City mayoral candidates on Wednesday, unlike Ramos, who endorsed Jeffries. Sharif noted that he was in contact with Jeffries following his decision. Carl Sharif, Darrin Sharif's father, is Jeffries' campaign director.

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The Ramos Decision and its immediate impact in Newark, according to sources

By Max Pizarro | February 11th, 2014


The news this evening out of Newark first reported by PolitickerNJ’s Mark Bonamo sent a shock wave through the ranks of political players in Essex County sizing up the new dimensions of a rivalry that starts with the mayor’s race but may boomerang on the county executive contest a month later.

How crazy will this get is a question on the minds of political insiders tonight.

Sources say Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos intends to drop out of the mayor’s contest tomorrow to back former Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries.

Energized by Ramos and those establishment Democrats in Ramos’ corner, Jeffries hopes to then focus his attention on defeating South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka, the frontrunner in the mayor’s contest, according to street polls.

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