A posse of potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates descended on Newark last week to attend Newark Mayor Ras Baraka’s 2nd Annual Mayor’s Ball. The July 1 event marked both the one-year anniversary of the start of Baraka’s term as mayor, as well as demonstrated the continued star power of New Jersey’s largest city in the constellation of statewide power politics.
The ball, a black-tie gala event held outdoors at 1 Riverfront Plaza in downtown Newark, was powered by Newark-based firm Elite Strategies LLC, led by city residents Kiburi Tucker and Linda Jumah, who used all local vendors to support the party. The event was attended by well over 300 people at $1,000 a plate, according to the ball’s organizers.
Three of the prime candidates presumed to be running for Governor in 2017 – Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy, and state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) – made their appearances at the ball, doing double duty at the birthday bash held the same night for one of New Jersey’s highest-profile Latino elected officials – the popular Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., who turned 40 years old.
Also present at the Mayor’s Ball was state Senator and former Governor Richard Codey (D-27). Both Codey and Fulop were key allies of Baraka during the highly contentious 2014 Newark mayoral campaign, a battle won by Baraka. Codey and Fulop, who introduced Newark’s mayor at the event, continue to be strong supporters of Baraka.