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.

Sharif wouldn't answer questions about his announcement.

That leaves only Jeffries and South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka to contend for the mayor's seat, and Jeffries and Ramos wasted little time taking pot shots at Baraka this morning.

"Newark needs a chief executive officer, not a protestor in chief," Ramos said while announcing his endorsement.

Calling it the "most difficult decision" of his career, Ramos said he made the decision in the past week after consulting with his family and staff. Rumors had been swirling for weeks that Ramos planned to bow out of the race, but the councilman was actually the first candidate to submit a petition announcing his intention to run for Mayor.

“After much reflection and soul searching, I've come to the conclusion that withdrawing is what’s best to move Newark in a new direction," Ramos said. "This election was never about me. It was about the residents of Newark. Running for mayor has been a great privilege."

Ramos and Jeffries were repeatedly interrupted by raucous applause as they spoke to more than 100 supporters inside a packed room.

"I am humbled, and I am deeply honored, to accept this endorsement," Jeffries said.

Ramos will run for a third term as North Ward Councilman, he said.

Baraka decried Ramos' decision as further proof that Democrats who backed Gov. Chris Christie last November are trying to elect a puppet mayor.

“They cannot take us over. We cannot be bought. For more than a month, the Christie Democrats have been trying to push Anibal Ramos out of the race. Since they know they can’t elect Ramos, they want someone else they can control or who will do their work," Baraka said in a fiery statement.

"(Essex County Executive) Joe DiVincenzo and his allies in South Jersey want to elect Shavar Jeffries, inexperienced, unknown and untested. He is the pliable candidate that they want as mayor."

DiVincenzo, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, City council members Augusto Amador and Carlos Gonzalez and city fire union president Chuck West were all in the crowd this morning.

Asked if he was endorsing Jeffries, DiVincenzo laughed and sipped from a coffee cup.

"Just visiting," he said.

Like Baraka, Ramos drew a clear line in the sand between the two candidates.

“Newark is at a crossroads right now,” he said. “We have a choice of either going backwards, or stepping into the future boldly. Newark needs a leader who solves problems not someone who throws bricks.

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