NEWARK – State Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28) has been very vocal in his support of Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka. He has traversed the city speaking in support of the South Ward councilman. He has stood alongside former Governor and current state Senator Richard Codey (D-27) and has railed against the perceived influence of Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo in favor of Baraka’s rival, former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries. The senator’s son, West Ward Councilman Ron C. Rice, also stands with Baraka.
But when it comes to Election Day on May 13, just 14 days away, Rice, a West Ward political war veteran, told PolitickerNJ.com that he is content to stand by while Baraka’s field operation runs the ward’s ground game in Newark neighborhoods such as Vailsburg and Ivy Hill.
“When you get involved with campaigns, what you do is follow the direction of the candidate and his campaign team,” said Rice, 68, who ran unsuccessfully against then mayor and now U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) in 2006. “I’m not telling other people what to do and how to do it. They will be telling us what needs to be done as relates to the West Ward. Anything else would be frustrating and confusing. I think Ras Baraka is running a smart campaign, and I think that he is very well organized.”
For Rice, victory in the West Ward depends just as much on policy concerns as on tactical efficiency.
“In the West Ward, we’re issue-oriented,” Rice said. “Everybody knows that crime is a problem. Everybody knows that foreclosure is a problem. Everybody knows that health care is a problem. Everybody knows that getting more jobs is a problem. We’re not about the rhetoric.”