TRENTON – At a press conference in Trenton on Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie told PolitickerNJ.com that he would meet later in the day with Newark Mayor-elect Ras Baraka.
“I’ll be seeing the Mayor-elect after we’re done with this press conference,” Christie said when asked if he had spoken with Baraka after his victory in last Tuesday’s Newark mayoral election over rival candidate Shavar Jeffries.
PolitickerNJ.com also asked Christie if he would be able to positively influence the relationship between Baraka and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo. Christie did not answer this question.
DiVincenzo was the most prominent Democrat to publicly endorse Christie, a potential Republican presidential candidate, for re-election last year and remains a close ally of the governor. DiVincenzo also endorsed Jeffries over Baraka on the last day of the Newark mayoral campaign.
The day before the Newark mayoral election, Baraka gave DiVincenzo a message as he marched through the streets of Newark’s West Ward, followed by fired-up followers.
“Newark is going forward,” Baraka told PolitickerNJ.com “It’s just going forward with the people, and not with Joe D.”
The night of his victory, Baraka made a reference to the North Ward Democratic organization which produced and has supported DiVincenzo.
“The machine is breaking,” Baraka told PolitickerNJ.com, surrounded by cheering supporters.
As soon as the press conference, which was held at the Statehouse in the governor’s outer office and which focused on state budgetary problems, concluded, DiVincenzo suddenly appeared.
“There’s going to be a meeting,” said DiVincenzo, accompanied by Phil Alagia, his chief of staff. “You heard the governor.
“We’re going to sit down, and we’re going to talk and see what’s up,” DiVincenzo, a Newark native, added. “I want to be helpful in any way that I could be. The governor asked me to be here, I’m going to be here. Newark is my city.”
DiVincenzo later confirmed that Baraka would also be present at the meeting to discuss Newark’s future. The new mayor of New Jersey’s largest city will have to deal with an estimated $93 million municipal budget deficit and a potential state takeover of the city’s finances, among other issues.
Baraka could not immediately be reached for comment.