The establishment is preparing for the entrance of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka into the 2025 gubernatorial contest.
Baraka’s been keeping a pretty accelerated schedule of events outside Newark, connecting with pockets of people, getting himself in front of voters and making an impression.
He showed up at a Perth Amboy event last month.
Someone saw him and Middlesex County Democratic Committee Chairman Kevin McCabe size each other up in a surprise encounter at the door.
Usually a low-performing municipality with a large plurality of Democrats and a dynamic Latino population, Perth Amboy apparently presents Baraka with an opportunity to present a robust alternative, or so he believes.
He’s played in Camden, too, pockets of Bergen.
Against an uptick of chatter around his fledgling candidacy for governor, Unite PAC, founded in support of Newark Mayor Baraka‘s prioritized causes, had a fundraiser on Sept. 18th at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
“Moving New Jersey Forward.”
Insiders chattered overtime, and the buzz has continued, especially now, as Democrats try to figure out what to do about an indicted-charred Bob Menendez and the seat he occupies, up next year under the presidential contest.
With continuing terms for speaker and senate president already secured, inevitably, the party’s U.S. Senate pick connects to governor.
Andy Kim’s already in, and First Lady Tammy Murphy is said to want to run in a Democratic Primary. Presumably she would have most of the support of key northern counties.
“Tammy in pole position out of default because nobody cares about senate seat,” said a source. “Not out of fear [of gubernatorial budget reprisals]. It’s all about ’25.
“Nobody will bleed for her,” the source added.
But if Murphy gets the backing of critical Democratic Party machines next year, what happens to the nascent deal between the backers of U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer and U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill?
Sherrill – or key Sherrill supporters – apparently like her for governor, not senator. They see executive experience at Drumthwacket as the best springboard to the White House for a uniquely resumed public servant. But other allies fear the unraveling of critical support for a statewide Sherrill bid if Tammy Murphy goes for the senate seat. Murphy simply mangles the one-two effect. Insurmountable? No. But a headache, conceivably. The presence of Baraka in a gubernatorial contest, moreover, complicates Sherrill’s (and Essex County Democratic Committee Chair LeRoy Jones’) life somewhat, as it signals Sherrill’s inability to round up unanimous support among the big players in her home county.
Against this backdrop, and with fellow big city North Jersey Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City already in the race, the charismatic Baraka continues to avidly make the rounds.