NEWARK – Irritation over statewide endorsements and how and why they ought to be issued spilled into the Newark mayoral contest yesterday as South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka and North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos criticized each other over lack of engagement in the gubernatorial and Senate contests.
Vying to lead an overwhelmingly Democratic city, each side critiqued the other as being less than willing to scrap on behalf of Democratic candidates, or at least of engaging in only very select theaters of political combat.
A dedicated political foe of Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s, Baraka to date has withheld his endorsement of the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate.
Ramos thinks that’s shameful, given what Booker could bring to Newark at the federal level.
For his part, Baraka is peeved at what he sees as Ramos’s less than robust support for the Democratic nominee for governor, state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18).
Ramos comes out of the political shop that also produced Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, an ardent backer of Republican incumbent Gov. Chris Christie, who’s trouncing Buono in the polls.
But his campaign made it clear yesterday that he backs Buono for governor.
“Anibal is a proud lifelong Democrat who supports the entire Democratic ticket in November,” said Ramos Campaign spokesman Bruno Tedeschi. “In fact, he will be attending a breakfast at Mayfair Farms honoring Barbara Buono on Saturday morning sponsored by Essex County Democratic Chairman Phil Thigpen.”
Team Baraka was hardly bowled over by the statement, but grudgingly gave props to their rivals for issuing a statement.
“Ras Baraka has publicly endorsed Barbra Buono from the inception of her campaign and has vocally supported her as the Democratic nominee for Governor,” said Frank Baraff, spokesman for the Baraka for Mayor campaign. “We are pleased to know that Anibal Ramos has publicly declared his support for the Democratic nominee.”