NEWARK – State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) said on Monday that he has yet to support a candidate in the Newark mayoral race.
“I haven’t gotten involved in the Newark mayor’s race at this point,” Sweeney told PolitickerNJ.com, alluding to the battle between South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka and former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries. “And I haven’t gotten involved in it right now for one reason: I’m from South Jersey.”
Sweeney spoke to reporters before addressing the first national summit on child abuse and neglect held in New Jersey, presented at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) by the non-profit organization Wynona’s House. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) also addressed the crowd, but left before speaking to reporters.
PolitickerNJ.com previously reported that several Democratic sources indicated that Jeffries conversed with Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo and with allies of South Jersey power broker George Norcross III regarding his political future. These sit-downs suggest an alliance between North and South Jersey to ensure Jeffries’ victory in the May Newark mayoral election, just 35 days away.
Norcross is also a close ally of Sweeney (D-3), the potential South Jersey blocker of the gubernatorial ambitions of North Jersey’s Steve Fulop, Jersey City’s mayor.
Fulop’s endorsement of Baraka in February sent shockwaves across the state. But when Sweeney was asked by PolitickerNJ.com if the involvement of Fulop, his potential rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, increased his interest in the Newark race, it caused a ripple.
“Is [Fulop] my rival?” Sweeney said. “There could be many [candidates] in a gubernatorial primary, and that’s even saying if I’m running in the gubernatorial primary. This is all speculation.
“The people of Newark should work to ensure that they get the mayor that they want,” Sweeney added. “When [former Newark mayor] Cory Booker left, he had done a great job here, in my personal opinion. Now it really comes down to who Newark wants to the be the next mayor.”