Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop huddled up in Duke’s this morning to harden alliances, reexamine each other’s core of attendant allies and consider a whole range of issues, including Fulop’s flare-up last month with Hudson County Freeholder Gerry Balmir.
Forty people joined the mayors for breakfast, including Essex County Democratic Chairman Leroy Jones, Assemblywoman-elect Angela McKnight, Hillside Mayor Angela Garretson, Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp, former Hudson County Freeholder Jeff Dublin, and Jersey City Councilwoman Joyce Watterman, among others. Newark Assemblywoman Cleo Tucker (D-28) was at the table. So was Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35) of Paterson. So was Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss.
In October, Fulop publicly chastised Balmir when he learned that the freeholder’s wife had accepted a job with the office of Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), a rival of Fulop’s for the 2017 Democratic nomination for governor. Balmir’s allies cried foul, suggesting the mayor was insensitively – in the words of state Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28) – imposing a “plantation” mentality on the situation.
Rice is very supportive of Baraka.
Himself a politically tested Baraka ally, Fulop discussed with the Newark mayor the political dynamics of the episode, including perception is reality pratfalls.
According to one source in the room, “There was a lot of clout [at the meeting] from the African-american community. Very supportive.”
As Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo flagpoles the prospect of himself as a 2017 gubernatorial candidate out of Baraka’s own Essex County, the Newark mayor apparently reasserted his support and friendship for Fulop.
Team Fulop sees Baraka as a major component of their plan to win over Essex County in time for a Democratic Primary. The two mayors will join next week with Paterson Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres at the League of Municipalities Convention in Atlantic City for a power-projection powwow.