Redistricting has Newark and the environs wondering how the 28th and 29th districts will eventually hammer out.
If the 29th District ends up including Belleville, Nutley, and the North and East wards of Newark, the 28th District would expand on its share of Newark’s central and south wards, making it the ruling ward of the west, central and south.
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo of Belleville and Assemblyman Albert Coutinho of Newark would be the favorites to run again with state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz of Newark, but that would mean Nutley would lack representation in the legislature. Powerful Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo of Nutley is said to favor his son, Joe D. Jr. (also of Nutley), for an assembly seat – maybe now (2011), maybe later (2013).
A Joe Jr. candidacy with his father’s tenacity and muscle behind it would likely make current Nutley Assemblyman Kevin Ryan and Caputo the odd men out. Ryan, a Joe D loyalist, would go willingly. But Caputo, an old school operative in his own right, wouldn’t. After telling PolitickerNJ.com in 2010 that he intended this year to choose between his assembly seat and freeholder seat, the Belleville assemblyman anounced this past Monday that he’s running again for the assembly.
One eventuality to avoid a Caputo v. DiVincenzo war – is that Caputo goes now and DiVincenzo, Jr. goes two years from now. People are already likening junior to Steve Adubato, Jr., who in his 20s won an assembly seat in 1983, then was a down ballot re-election casualty as part of the 1985 Tom Kean, Sr. demolition of Peter Shapiro.
The late John V. Kelly of Nutley, a Republican, defeated Adubato, son of the legendary Newark North Ward leader of the same name.
The 28th District may pose more challenges. State Sen. Ronald L. Rice of Newark intends to run again. Will his running mates be Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer and Assemblywoman Cleo Tucker?
Spencer was initially backed by Newark Mayor Cory Booker, whose radioactivity in local politics makes it tough to picture that his endorsement would produce much more than a chilling effect. But the asseblywoman’s work ethic and smarts have won over people who were not initially allies, including, most significantly, the elder Rice, who is on record endorsing her re-election. Spencer is also close to the Sharifs and the Paynes.
Tucker has close ties to South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka, which may be enough to keep her in the mix as a Rice running mate.
But some kind of combination of Payne, Baraka, Shariff and Rice strength will ultimately yield both of Rice’s running mates.