NEWARK – On the front lines of the four-man Newark mayoral race, so far the most shots have been fired by competing candidates and councilmen Anibal Ramos, Jr. and Ras Baraka. The sons of the North and South Wards respectively have engaged in a grappling match in recent weeks over labor endorsements, trying to gain the most union support. Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif still appears to be trying to get his campaign up to full speed.
Meanwhile, former Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries has reportedly been holding court.
Several Democratic sources have told PolitickerNJ.com that Jeffries has met with Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo and South Jersey power broker George Norcross III to discuss his political future. These sit-downs suggest an alliance between North and South Jersey to ensure Jeffries’ victory in the May 2014 election to run the state’s largest city.
A survey of Newark political players indicated interest in the suggested shift towards Jeffries.
“The more people that support Shavar, the happier that makes me. The fewer people in the field, the happier that makes me,” said former Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo (D-29), a Seton Hall Law professor who is now on Jeffries’ council slate. “The African-American community has historically proved that it is one of the most generous, forgiving communities in this country. They have voted for all kinds of people, so I don’t take the position that they won’t vote for a Latino. But I do take the position that in this race, there’s no need to vote for a Latino. There are several African-American candidates who come from Newark and who relate to Newark. I don’t see that there is any reason for African-Americans to look outside their own community for a new mayor.
“If Joe D and George were to support Shavar, it would be a wonderful thing,” Caraballo added. “But they also should know that Shavar is a pretty independent guy. [Ras Baraka] attempted to get him to drop out, claiming that he was someone who wasn’t known. There is certainly no one making that statement today. He’s the guy who has to be contended with. Ras Baraka is not afraid of Anibal. Ras Baraka is concerned with Shavar. Anibal is not concerned with Baraka. Anibal is concerned with Shavar. And that’s not a bad position to be in.”
“I’ve been hearing some saber-rattling around this city that other folks might get into this race,” said East Ward Democratic power broker Joe Parlavecchio. “Joe D has his own re-election race to worry about, so he doesn’t want to be distracted with the Newark mayoral race. I understand that Shavar has some fairly heavy-duty financial backers as well. All this conjecture, it’s iffy history at this point.”
Jeffries has raised nearly $600,000 in campaign funds, according to the Jeffries campaign.
Some observers wonder if reports that DiVincenzo has met with Jeffries signify a move away from the Ramos camp. Sources close to DiVincenzo stated that the County Executive is still firmly behind Ramos, while the Ramos campaign did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.
A major figure from the Jeffries campaign commented.
“It’s all interesting and intriguing,” said Carl Sharif, senior advisor to the Jeffries campaign. “I’m not in a position to verify anything. These stories will continue to manifest and fertilize themselves the closer we get to the election. I would think that Mr. Norcross probably is the only one to answer the question of why he is interested in the Newark mayoral race, if indeed he has an interest.”
PolitickerNJ.com decided to follow the advisor’s advice and contacted Norcross.
“I’m happy to help any Democrat in Newark get elected, but in this case it would only be if Senator Booker, Congressman Payne, County Executive DiVincenzo and Chairman Jones all wanted me to help,” Norcross told PolitickerNJ.com.