Rumors that Newark Mayor Cory Booker is interested in joining the Obama administration – possibly to replace Adolfo Carrión Jr., as the White House Office of Urban Affairs – prompts an explanation of the process to fill a vacancy should the unconfirmed speculation turn out to be accurate. If Booker were to leave office before September 13, there would be a special election in November 2010 to fill the remaining 44 months of his term. If he were to leave after that date, a May 2011 special election would be held. The City Council President would become the Mayor until the results of a special election are certified.
The prospect that Booker might decline to serve his second term – the one he just spent nearly $8 million to win last Tuesday with 59% of the vote – could create some last minute maneuvering in the race for City Council President. Right now the job belongs to Mildred Crump, but Donald Payne, Jr., re-elected last week as a Councilman-At-Large and also an Essex County Freeholder (as well as the son of a U.S. Congressman) is considered a leading candidate to get the job when the Council reorganizes on May 1. The Central Ward council seat is still undecided: incumbent Charles Bell and newcomer Darrin Sharif (the son of Booker’s mentor) will face off in a June runoff. None of the nine City Councilmembers would have to give up their seats to run in a hypothetical special election for mayor.
In addition to councilmembers, possible candidates in a special election include: State Sens. Ronald Rice (the father of West Ward Councilman Ron Rice) and Teresa Ruiz, Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, and Shavar Jeffries, a Seton Hall Law Professor who was the top vote getter in last month’s race for Newark School Advisory Board.
To make the hypothetical November special election a bit more appealing to the political what-iffers: one Democratic insider suggests that support for Payne Jr. for mayor could include a deal for U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D-Newark) to drop his bid for re-election to a twelfth term in Congress.