NEWARK – The campaign of Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries criticized the endorsement on Wednesday by Hudson County Freeholder Junior Maldonado of Jeffries’ mayoral race rival, Ras Baraka.
The focus of the Jeffries campaign’s critique was two-fold, centering on Maldonado’s political history with Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, who endorsed Baraka in February, as well as the depth of Baraka’s support in Newark’s growing Latino community.
The Jeffries team produced an April 2005 op-ed letter written by then-council candidate Fulop, who was wrestling with Maldonado for control of downtown Jersey City’s Ward E council seat.
“The fact is that [Maldonado] has no plan to improve the ward at all,” Fulop wrote nine years ago. “If he does, it is a well kept secret.”
Fulop defeated Maldonado in the May 2005 election, beginning an upward political trajectory that has led him to the mayor’s chair in New Jersey’s second-largest city and a potential Democratic candidacy for governor.
“It’s ironic that Fulop supports Baraka who has done nothing for the South Ward, yet he criticized Maldonado for doing nothing for Ward E in Jersey City,” said Jeffries spokeswoman Lupe Todd in a written statement. “Fulop is an outsider who knows nothing about Newark. He really should have taken a closer look at Baraka’s failed record in the South Ward before endorsing him. He would have quickly realized Baraka has not had a plan for the South Ward. In fact, he promised an economic stimulus plan that never materialized, leaving the South Ward in worse shape with a record number of murders and no economic activity or jobs for residents.”
Adding his voice to the Jeffries campaign’s condemnation of Maldonado’s endorsement of Baraka was North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr.
Ramos was also a Newark mayoral candidate until he dropped out of the mayoral race in February to focus on his reelection to the council, where he has served since 2006. Fulop endorsed Baraka less than a week later.
Ramos is now on Jeffries’ council slate. Yet earlier this month, Fulop came to Newark to endorse Ramos, his personal friend, in his reelection bid.
Nevertheless, with just 13 days left until Newark’s decision day, Ramos appears to have learned a lesson imparted by the character of Michael Corleone in the classic 1974 gangster film, The Godfather Part II: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
“It’s sad that Baraka had to import Latino elected officials from Hudson County because he lacks Latino support in the city of Newark,” said Ramos in a written statement. “How can Baraka legitimately claim he is for the Latino community when he has only one Latino running on his slate?”