NEWARK – A veteran campaign manager for former Assemblyman Fred Caraballo (D-Newark) in Caraballo’s blowout loss to the North Ward Democratic Party machine last year, Democratic Party political operative Charles Williams is staying out of the Central Ward Council race.
Williams said he received phone calls early on from camps backing former Councilman Charles Bell and his probably his chief rival in a 13-candidate race: labor leader Eddie Osborne.
Williams said there are too many operatives involved.
“I love to go in and run a race myself,” he said.
Having himself gone up against the North Ward machine with Caraballo, Williams gives the edge in this crowded council race to Bell, who’s backed by North Ward party leader Steve Adubato.
“Charles Bell has more name recognition,” said Williams. “He’s got the backing of Sen. Ronald Rice and (Former Councilwoman) Bessie Walker. He’s got the grassroots behind him. In a short election cycle like this, the more experienced candidate is going to win.”
Osborne and his allies hope newly registered Democratic Party voters will break the party machine in this election and swarm to the younger candidate. Williams said he doesn’t envision that happening.
“You’re going to get new voters who are likely to vote down the party line,” said the political operative. “But the council candidates are bracketed separately, and the people who know Charlie know how to go and find him.”
Hooked into political campaigns since the 1970s, Williams said he’s never seen anything like the grassroots volunteer effort building statewide for presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Il.).
“I was in Burlington County, doing voter registration training, and we’re talking 75 to 80 people on a Saturday,” he said. “I had 25 senior citizens all asking questions, trying to get involved.”