NEWARK – As inspirational as President Barack Obamaremains in Newark,politics in this citystill hinges on local mechanics – and there are undeniably several factors contributing to a lack of good structural pre-conditions for this governor's race.
Take the Central Ward.
Last year at this time the city was blanketed with foot soldiers selling thelocal candidacies of Eddie Osborne and Charles Bell.
Each campaign had octopus arms around thepresidential candidacy ofObama who, by the way, was on the ballot – for real.
Other Central Ward contenders were in the race, each one anxious to prove why he or she actually bestencapsulated change in the mold of the presidential candidate, and each one embodying a key voter demographic.
That battle at the grassroots and ward level created the perfect atmospherics for top-down, bottom-upfusion and symbiosis.
That's all gone this year.
Moreover, Dwight Brown, whoas the central ward Democratic Party chairman successfully managed Bell's councilcampaign, died this past summer, leavingNewark's largestward's political structure in turmoil.
And as engaged as Mayor Cory Booker was elsewhere in his projection of Obama fever, his feet were cemented into the central ward as he strove to prove – ultimately unsuccessfully – that his candidate could carry the Central Ward.
This year, with a few exceptions, including senior citizen complex campaigning with Corzine and some ribbon cutting appearances, Booker has mostly circulated statewide, pawing for political traction beyond Newark as rumors about his 2013 gubernatorial candidacy abound.
The usually dependable North Ward has its own troubles, as political operatives feel cowed by the ongoing state investigations of state Sen. Teresa Ruiz's (D-Newark) 2007 campaign.
Short of state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark) backed against awall, the local motivation for high turnout in the West Ward is usually strained at best, and this year's no different – unless voters grab hold of the Corzine-Obama linkage, a case that applies everywhere in the city, including the South Ward.
The South isperhaps the biggest question mark. Payne's committee people control the block-by-block political operations.
The only ward poised to deliver big for Corzine is the smallest and least significant politically – the East, where Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Newark) has proved an eager partner for the governor's education initiatives, spearheading legislation for the creation of the first new schools in the Ironbound in 100 years.
Corzien operatives dismiss questions about trouble on the ground with a finger-by-finger accounting of those organizations that are overlaid on the the city's five wards to assure voter turnout, including labor, and operatives airlifted infrom Obama's inner political circle.
But those pieces could also backfire amid hurt feelings and wounded egos on the ground who are used to running their own operations and don't want to be outmuscled by national league hotshots.