Baraka Implications and Other Assorted Bar Notes


Ras Baraka declaring his gubernatorial candidacy this week gave that prodigious fraternity of insiders focused more on governor 2025 than senate 2024 a chance to deviously surface in the backrooms.  Inevitably, though, the two races intersect, and specifically connect the possibility of key performance patterns by the Democratic Primary electorate.

Amid considerable progressive hoopla around Andy Kim‘s U.S. Senate bid, a source told InsiderNJ earlier this week that Baraka intended to have a sit-down with Dr. Patricia Campos Medina, progressive U.S. Senate candidate.

It made sense, if the mayor of Newark went in that direction.

Backing Campos Medina would flatten one of Kim’s tires, distributing a headline away from his Monmouth-momentum-generating campaign, signaling to the Murphy Administration to not shut the state aid spigot off as punishment for going against the establishment candidacy of First Lady Tammy Murphy. People power darling Baraka conceivably supporting Campos Medina would help Murphy, because a campaign without a heavyweight leader of the revolution would muddy Kim’s version of the progressive cause, or at least point to its limitation in a key area, while enabling the mayor to not have to weather a year’s worth of frozen citywide fortunes as he tries to get his statewide campaign off the ground.

In addition, it gives Baraka – who will run for governor without the benefit of a single county line – a chance to flex his own off-the-line bullhorn credentials and underscore his urban priorities. As of Friday, he hadn’t endorsed anyone for U.S. Senate, but based on the inner sanctum buzz at least as of this morning, the mayor looked least likely to back Kim, a suburban unknown. One misplaced phone call, however, or assertive ear nibbling, might change the situation, a source said. Fluidity is both a blessing and a curse in that strange New Jersey political netherworld called “off-the-line,” or “open primary only”. But for all the siren singing around Kim, Baraka – as long as he served as mayor – did have to continue to consider his relationship with the front office.

Longer term, the fact that he won’t have the backing in 2025 toward his gubernatorial candidacy from the party organization in his own county continued to stir debate among insiders. Would the mayor of New Jersey’s biggest city running statewide in defiance of Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones, significantly impair the candidacy of Jones’ preferred candidate, U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11)? Would other counties look at a fractured Essex and consider going in another direction, to former State Senate President Steve Sweeney, for example, or Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, or U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer? Or had anemic elections in Newark removed the intimidation factor from Baraka, giving Jones – in his play on Sherrill’s behalf with other county party leaders – a strong argument to stick with his statewide choice?

Could Sweeney squiggle through a chopped-up Essex? Probably not, given Middlesex County’s aversion to South Jersey. Things can change, of course, but the party shift of power from the South to Middlesex over the course of the last four years, makes it unlikely that Chairman Kevin McCabe would want to retread New Jersey’s favorite suspenders’-wearing former ironworker. Then again, Middlesex has to keep an eye on its Building Trades base. Would that be enough to put Sweeney in the pole position? No. In the event that Middlesex and Essex go sideways on governor, perhaps assisted by Baraka convincing powerful forces of Essex’s less-than-dominating presence, Middlesex would more likely head to Bergen and Gottheimer, and secure at least the Stack half of Hudson, Union, and Monmouth. But given the volatility of the situation and the implications of Kim exposing the establishment’s very soft underbelly, the Baraka candidacy must certainly motivate Chairman Jones anew to put the Newark mayor in context given his campaigns and elections history, a source admitted, and keep those allies aligned for 2025, starting with Passaic County and Chairman John Currie, but obviously prioritizing McCabe, given Middlesex’s size and stature.

A source insisted that the Kim phenomenon speaks mostly to Democratic Primary frustration with the Murphys overreaching by making the U.S. Senate power play on the heels of Bob Menendez gold bar annihilation. If Team Baraka is already doing an endzone dance over Kim exposing a paper-thin establishment, they should remember, the source insisted, “that people will be more motivated [for someone like Sherrill] than a front office offload.” That is, if Sherrill’s establishment support in Essex connects to other key organizations, again, Middlesex’s chief among them.

More immediately, Baraka’s gubernatorial candidacy up-ticked the developing citywide rivalry between North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos and Central Ward Councilwoman Lamonica McIver, both presumed to vie with greater urgency for Baraka succession. The mayor’s allies want McIver and own a three to two ward advantage. Ramos sits on one of the most productive local political bases in NJ and has the county connections. While governor unfolds, so too does the Newark race for mayor.

More later.


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One response to “Baraka Implications and Other Assorted Bar Notes”

  1. Want to know how Baraka will beat Kim or Sherrill or Murphy? Read below, how Joe Biden won his election and kicked Donald Trump’s ass in 2020:

    Joe Biden was so popular that he broke all the electronic voting machines and the authorities still can’t find the router passwords on Election month? That’s true. That number of Biden voters has simply never been counted before and it probably just melted the router passwords right off the computers.

    Nobody can find them.

    That’s not all: Twitter just deleted the accounts of the Maricopa Arizona audit team because they probably weren’t sure if the audit team could count that high. That was the right call. Biden’s win was so astronomical and embarrassing for the Trump campaign that in Arizona, simply out of compassion and politeness, the Maricopa Board of Supervisors refused to comply with state subpoenas to tell Trump the exact number by which Biden kicked his ass.

    I think that’s wonderful.

    It really shows how far Biden is willing to go to unite the country. Heck, the guy got 74,000 ballots (EV33s) that Maricopa County didn’t even know they sent out (EV32s) during the election! You know what that means: people were so enthusiastic about Joe they wanted people to know regardless of the legality of their feelings. I mean 3,981 people even registered and voted for Biden after the deadline to register to vote had passed!

    You can’t put a price tag — or a jail sentence — on that kind of enthusiasm.

    Trump’s people simply can’t handle the truth because Biden’s win is so much bigger than most minds can comprehend. For example: at least 11,326 people who were not even on the voter rolls in Maricopa County on November 7th just came out of the woodwork to go for Joe on December 4th. Now I know what you’re thinking: isn’t that after Election Day?

    Isn’t that technically impossible?

    That’s just how big this landslide really was — all the technicalities like dates simply melted away in the final tally. And we’re just talking about the Biden voters who showed up in person. There were another 74,240 mail-in ballots that got counted for Joe and nobody even knows who sent in those ballots. No, I don’t want to hear any of your bullshit about suspicious ballots coming out of nowhere in the middle of the night to be counted either: the same thing happened in lots of other counties across America, so you know it’s true.

    There was an obvious enthusiasm gap between Trump and Biden that still makes the Trump people uncomfortable. Sure, the Trumpers showed up at parades and boat parties and stadium rallies across the country in huge numbers, but did they really go the extra mile for their guy? Did they, for instance, access the Maricopa County voting software database 37,646 times (in March alone!) in order to delete the logs for their candidate? Or vote on ballots even if those ballots lacked proper serial numbers or chain of custody documentation? Did they double-count ballots? Or mark a bunch of ballot boxes as going 100-0 for Trump in Fulton County?

    Not a chance.

    How far were the Trump people really prepared to go? As it turned out: not nearly far enough. The Biden voters never showed up for the TV cameras and the big media events, sure, because they were too busy on the Dark Web of the internet making sure that the integrity of Joe’s momentum took him straight to the White House! Nothing so convoluted as historical precedents or Trump winning 18 of 19 bellwether counties was going to derail their guy.

    You gotta admire their grit — and their hacking skills.

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