Baraka in Gear Locally as Essex Seeks Greater Engagement for Menendez


They crammed the Mediterranean Manor on Saturday morning, all abuzz about U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

Worry. Worry and concern.

That’s the tone, the mood.

The Ironbound. This is Sheriff Armando Fontoura’s backyard.

He’s supposed to drill numbers here.

Then there’s incumbent Essex County Executive Joe Divincenzo, whose roots go back to the North Ward of Newark and those environs to the immediate northward.

They’re both on the ballot on Nov. 6th, albeit with only token opposition.

Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones?

He has East Orange.

Nothing happens over there politically without Jones, who will have the organization at fill tilt.

But the person of the hour in this ground zero atmosphere in the Democrats’ county stronghold continued to be Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.

“I think Ras surprised even himself with the way he wiped out Gayle [Chaneyfield Jenkins],” a source told InsiderNJ.

The mayor used to have to put up a fight to get any of his own on the countywide slate. This time he dictated his guy Alturrick Kenney for surrogate, to join the ticket with DiVincenzo and Fontoura and create the impression of something more interesting than two white males at the top of the countywide ticket, or at least that’s according to one of the revelers at the Mediterranean.

Summoned by a dead heat-entrenched Menendez to deliver better than average results, Essex Democrats had scheduled a Monday night strategy session.

Baraka – or his people – are supposed to be there.

His charge?

The south and central wards.

“He’s more engaged with the Democratic Party than Ken Gibson or Sharpe James were,” a source told InsiderNJ.

More than James? Really?

“He goes to more events, he’s more aware of the party, he goes to everything,” the source said.

Now, a week and change after he denounced former Bergen Sheriff Mike Saudino, Baraka in his home county was wired in for veteran Sheriff Fontoura, the two of them expected to pull the county upright in time, ultimately, to stop Republican statewide challenger Bob Hugin.


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