NEWARK – Since Mayor Cory Booker beat Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) for mayor, he has gone 0-2 against the maverick West Ward lawmaker.
First there was Rice’s re-election victory last year over Freeholder Bilal Beasely. Over the weekend, it was Rice staffer Rufus Johnson who won the party’s endorsement for a vacant freeholder seat over Booker staffer Terrance Bankston.
He knows his adversaries are out there gloating over Bankston’s loss this week, but today the 38-year old Booker put it in perspective on the steps of City Hall.
“I’ve been losing party politics since 1997,” said the mayor, referring to his first and ongoing forays into Essex political brawls.
“I was hoping the party would include me so that I would have a vote in the county, that I would have someone there,” he added of Bankston, who has vowed to fight on despite being denied the line.
“The Democratic Party lost,” Booker added of Bankston’s failure to secure organizational support.
Now Booker said he and his team plan to aggressively step up their organizing efforts to elect district leaders, particularly in the South Ward, and to build a better organizational structure to deliver votes citywide.
When it comes to current party organizing, “Steve Adubato is the only one who commands respect statewide,” Booker admitted of the North Ward Democratic Party leader.
Booker said it would be better and healthier for Newark to have alternatives.
As for state Senate President Richard Codey’s (D-Essex) presence in the city today, Booker acknowledged that the Democratic Party leader is “trying to be a peacemaker,” but did not credit Codey with bringing himself and Rice together.
“Sen. Rice and I have a professional relationship and we were in my office today working together on issues related to strengthening Newark,” Booker said.