The conventional wisdom had been that Harold Hodes would lose his very lucrative contract as a lobbyist for the City of Newark after Cory Booker replaced Sharpe James as Mayor. Sources say that Hodes got Senate President Richard Codey, Essex County Democratic Chairman Philip Thigpen and others to intervene, and now that Hodes has formed a “joint” venture with Thigpen’s son, Rick Thigpen, it now looks like the contract will remain intact — albeit with a little bit less of a profit margin. The Newark lobbying deal might be one of the reasons Rick Thigpen spent so much time with his cousin, Donald Payne, Jr., who serves as a Newark City Councilman and Essex County Freeholder, at the New Jersey League of Municipalities Convention in Atlantic City this week. Payne, Jr. is the son of Congressman Donald Payne, the nephew of Assemblyman William Payne, and the cousin of Assemblyman Craig Stanley. For extreme political junkies: read Thigpen’s analysis of a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll on the Newark mayoral race.