Baraka Organization Veteran McIver Well-Positioned in CD-10

The allies of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka appear to be coalescing around Newark Central Ward Councilwoman Lamonica McIver for the CD-10 Congressional seat.

McIver serves as the council president of the Newark City Council.

For more on the career of Councilwoman McIver, please go here.

There are several moving parts to consider as Democrats seek a replacement for the late U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., laid to rest today by a mournful community.

Greiving power players nearly uniformly identify the CD-10 perch left behind by Mr. Payne as a Newark seat. As New Jersey’s biggest city, Newark needs congressional representation from within its own unique borders, sources say.

Others will likely contend for the seat, especially now in a post-organization line environment, but Baraka maintains order in his inner circle, which includes longtime ally McIver, a former student of his at Central Ward High School turned battle-tested elected official.

The Essex County Democratic Committee in the past has operated separately from Baraka, who won the 2014 mayor’s contest in defiance of the county organization. He continues to defy the county, running for governor in 2025 even as Essex Democrats behind the leadership of Chairman LeRoy Jones appear to favor U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill for governor.

Seeking unity behind Sherill – itself a test given Baraka’s presence in the statewide contest – the committee would likely be reluctant to favor Baraka’s choice for the vacant congressional seat if it means empowering a congressperson to back Baraka’s gubernatorial candidacy.

But the county as of right now does not seem to have a clear-cut alternative to McIver.

Financially well-connected, battle-tested, and in charge of his own West Ward-based operation,

Chigozie Onyema
Chigozie Onyema

attorney Chigozie Onyema continues to circulate as an option. Onyema ran a credible 2022 campaign for the vacant West Ward council seat, ultimately losing to Baraka’s candidate, rapper Dupre “DoItAll” Kelly.

But if the county and the mayor come together behind McIver, with Baraka giving other concessions (probably short of pulling the plug on his gubernatorial candidacy but considerable enough to keep the county from


contending) such a demonstration of unity would probably make it difficult for another contender in CD-10. That said, again the county does not appear eager to augment Baraka as long as he remains a candidate for governor, fracturing Essex support away from Congresswoman Sherrill. There is a scenario, one source argues, wherein the Baraka organization might fall back on South Ward Councilman Pat Council, chairman of the South Ward Democratic Organization. But Council would not oppose McIver.

Another name: Hillside Mayor Dahlia Vertreese.


Yes, she’s not from Newark, but her allies say she can piece together committee votes as long as “LeRoy and Ras” remain on a 2025 collision course.

Governor Phil Murphy, sources say, will order a July 16th primary and Sept. 18th general election for the vacant seat.

Saturday Update:

Sources don’t suspect a war between the county and Baraka breaking out over the seat, and as such, see McIver as the likely pick in the end.

Sunday Update:

Sources say it’s a done deal for McIver.

Hillside NJ Mayor Dahlia Vertreese lost her committee seat to Marjorie Hargrave, a candidate championed by local Democratic Party Chair Anthony Salters.
Hillside NJ Mayor Dahlia Vertreese.






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