Strategy Session: Baraka and Fulop Forces Confer in Newark

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop greets Newark Mayor Ras Baraka at the Newark Mayor's Ball.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop greets Newark Mayor Ras Baraka at the Newark Mayor’s Ball.

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.

Strategy Session: Baraka and Fulop Forces Confer in Newark