After weeks of speculation, the direction of the Newark mayoral race may take an important turn today as prominent members of the Payne political family gather at Newark’s Robert Treat Hotel at 11:30 a.m.
The campaign of Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries has called a press conference 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 will be present.
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.