The anticpated press conference that was to be held today by the Newark mayoral campaign of Shavar Jeffries involving members of one of Newark’s most prominent political families has been cancelled, according to the Jeffries campaign.
The campaign had called an 11:30 a.m. press conference for Monday at which both U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-10) and Essex County deputy chief of staff and former state Assemblyman William D. Payne were scheduled to be present.
But less than two hours before the press conference was scheduled to begin, the Jeffries campaign issued the following statement.
“Due to an unforeseen conflict, this morning’s press conference is cancelled and will be rescheduled at a later date in the near future,” the statement read.
The former assemblyman, who is the congressman’s uncle, endorsed Jeffries last month and agreed to serve as the Jeffries campaign co-chairperson. Payne, a Democrat who represented the 29th Assembly district from 1998 to 2008, has reportedly taken out petitions to run for an at-large council seat.
When Jeffries announced his council slate last month, a sole at-large council slate spot was left conspicuously open.
PolitickerNJ.com reported earlier this month that Congressman Payne, who replaced his father, Donald M. Payne Sr., in the Tenth Congressional District in 2012 following the longtime Congressman’s death, is seriously considering backing Jeffries in the Newark mayoral race.
A potential double-barreled Payne family endorsement of Jeffries could shift the race’s momentum, which some political observers believe favor Jeffries’ rival in the campaign, South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka.
Baraka was endorsed by a slew of labor unions last month, as well as Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, a potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
Several sources have told PolitickerNJ.com that U.S. Rep. Payne, Jr. is facing pressure from labor union representatives to stay out of the race and focus on his own re-election bid. But the decades-long rivalry between the Payne and Baraka families, two Newark political dynasties that share the same South Ward fiefdom, could prove too strong to keep the congressman on the sideline in Newark’s May municipal election.
“The congressman had a conflict with his schedule,” said Jeffries campaign spokeswoman Lupe Todd. “There is no secret squirrel stuff going on.”