Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-Newark) officially opened her district office on Hawthorne Avenue in the South Ward on Friday in a well-attended event.
U.S. Rep. William Payne (D-Newark), Essex county Party chairman Phil Thigpen, Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex), Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-Montclair), Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Newark), Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Newark)and local elected officialswere among the 150 people who joinedSpencer for the kick-off.
"I plan to have a larger event in September," said Spencer.
The office opening comes in the wake of a suggestion by former Assemblyman William Payne (D-Newark) that he wouldn't rule out a primary run against Spencer. Although he bucked the system last year and ran off the line, Payne remains in a powerful inner sanctum. He serves as deputy chief of staff to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, a job title shared by Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz, whoin 2007 toppedthe ticket with Spencer.
For her part, Spencer, an ally of Newark Mayor Cory Booker but a lifelong South Warder in her own right and staffer to former Councilman Donald Bradley, isn't exactly cozy with the DiVincenzo wing of the party.
West Ward Councilman Ronald Rice, son of the senator, recently told PolitickerNJ.com that he would help generate support for Spencer in the event party brass decides to run Payne against her next year.
"If he challenges Assemblywoman Spencer (with organizational support), this would be the only community where the Democratic Party picked the grandfather over the grandaughter," Rice said. "We will send a message that if you don’t get off the stage, we will mobilize to keep you off the stage. We’ll galvanize Obama people this year for next year.
"We won't go along like robots, and we don't forget thatWynonaLipman wanted Mildred Crump to have her Senate seat when Sharpe James took that seat for himself. It's dangerous in this era to mess around with an African American woman."