NORTH BERGEN – Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said on Monday that any decisions to be made by the mayor of New Jersey’s largest city and his political allies about the upcoming state legislative races in Newark’s districts will be made in the new year.
“After the holiday season, we’ll sit down and talk about all of that,” Baraka told PolitickerNJ moments after making comments at a press conference in North Bergen in support of a proposed bill backed by state Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) that would restore a portion of sales tax revenue to municipalities with Urban Enterprise Zones (UEZ) in an effort to spur economic development.
Sources have told PolitickerNJ that increased fundraising efforts by Baraka and his allies indicate that a primary fight might be looming in Legislative District 29 against Democratic Assemblywomen L. Grace Spencer and Eliana Pintor Marin. The LD 29 assemblywomen would reportedly be challenged by Alturrick Kenney and Patrick Council, sources stated.
Kenney is a senior consultant at Impact Public Affairs and former Newark School Advisory Board member. Council is Newark’s director of neighborhood and recreational services and a past member of the School Advisory Board. Both Kenney and Council ran unsuccessfully earlier this year for an at-large council seat.
A looming LD 29 fight would highlight the struggle for Essex County dominance between Democrats Baraka and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.
DiVincenzo backs the reelection of Spencer and Pinto Marin, and sources have told PolitickerNJ that Essex County Democratic Party Chairman LeRoy Jones is inclined to stick with the LD 29 incumbents because Baraka already has steady allies in the other state legislative district that includes parts of Newark, Legislative District 28.
The LD 28 Assembly duo, Democrats Ralph Caputo and Cleopatra Tucker, backed Baraka early in the 2014 Newark mayoral race, suggesting that the LD 28 front could be quiet in the 2015 election, when the entire state Assembly is up for grabs. Caputo and Tucker reportedly remain acceptable to Jones.
Next year’s Assembly races could also be a moment of both settling old scores and looking to the future for Baraka. Pintor Marin supported Baraka’s rival, Shavar Jeffries, in last year’s mayoral contest. Spencer, who was then Newark’s municipal prosecutor, stayed out of the mayoral battle.
But for now, Baraka said no final decisions will be made until at least January.
“After the holidays are over, which gives us a chance to take a mental break, we’ll begin to talk about it,” Baraka said.