LD29 Gutcheck: signs now point to Democratic Primary

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Accelerated fundraising efforts by forces affiliated with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka suggest that the mayor’s political allies want to move forward with a plan to run primary candidates against LD29 incumbents Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer and Assemblywoman Eliana Pinor Marin.

Sources say the likely challengers will be Alturrick Kenney and Pat Council.

Kenney is a senior consultant at Impact Public Affairs and former School Advisory Board member; Council the director of neighborhood services and a past member of the School Advisory Board. He ran unsuccessfully earlier this year for an at-large council seat.

County Executive Joe DiVincenzo (pictured, above right) backs the re-election of Spencer and Pintor Marin.
Sources say that Essex County Democratic Party Chairman Leroy Jones will not buck Spencer or Pintor Marin for one or both of Baraka’s candidates because of the fact that the mayor already has two allies in LD28.
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-28) and Assemblywoman Cleo Tucker (D-28) were both early Baraka for Mayor backers.
The chairman of the party cannot give three of four or four of four picks to the mayor.
The forces as currently composed reflect balance between the county and city hall.
The choice for Baraka (pictured, above left) comes down to whether he accepts that balance and denies those South Ward loyalists itching for a fight next year and a full complement of lower house legislators that will reflect change in the City of Newark.
Pintor Marin supported Baraka’s losing opponent, Shavar Jeffries.
Employed at the time as the municipal prosecutor, Spencer stayed out of the mayoral contest.
Kenney and Council were both avid Baraka backers.
How, one source reasoned, can the mayor stand down from a primary when those among his loyal following expect a political return with each election opportunity?
Sources in both camps point out that a Democratic Primary is far from a nonpartisan mayoral election.
Baraka’s off-the-line candidates would be underdogs against Pintor Marin and Spencer if the latter two incumbents have the party line in a Democratic Primary, as expected.
One source close to the mayor told PolitickerNJ that they will make an effort to get at least Kenney on the line but sources elsewhere – for the reasons discussed above – say it is unlikely that Jones will make that deal.
It’s still fluid, but as of right now, it adds up to a 2015 Democratic Primary.
The other question becomes whether Baraka’s allies will also run a countywide slate, including candidates for sheriff against incumbent Armando Fontoura and clerk against incumbent Chris Durkin.
Again, given the presence of Caputo and Tucker in LD28 – candidates apparently acceptable to both Jones and Bakara – it is unlikely that district will be the scene of any action next year.


LD29 Gutcheck: signs now point to Democratic Primary