The Implications of Baraka and Osborne Going Separate Ways

The fact that Team Baraka will forge ahead without John Sharpe James in the South Ward came as no surprise to Newarkers looking ahead to the 2022 citywide elections. South Ward sources as early as the summertime hummed about James’ departure from Team Baraka, and the candidacy of City Recreation Director Pat Council, chair of the South Ward Democratic Committee. But the absence of At-Large Councilman Eddie Osborne from next year’s ticket did turn some heads, as Baraka moves ahead with Louise Rountree, a minister who possesses a popular base of citywide support.

A labor leader with LIUNA, Osborne first ran with Baraka and company in 2014 and served two terms as a loyal Baraka team member. The councilman – who ran as a Cory Booker-backed Central Ward council candidate in 2008 and lost to Charles Bell – is done with Tam Baraka in 2022. A source close to city politics told InsiderNJ that Osborne – in Plan B mode – may will undertake an independent run for his at-large seat. He’s also said to be eyeballing another Central Ward run. “That would be a mistake,” a Baraka ally insisted to IniderNJ. Central Ward Councilwoman Lamonica McIver is a tough out with the mayor’s backing, the source added. Also, former Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins is said to be giving a hard look at her own Central Ward challenge of McIver.

Another source – an insider who follows city and state politics – said the Osborne ejection puzzled him, especially with Baraka contemplating a 2025 run for governor.  “Sweeney just shored up support,” said the source, referring to designs on the governorship by ousted Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3). But LIUNA is Building Trades labor – conceivably part of Sweeney’s base anyway, though he and the laborers have had their differences, going back to his soft shoe with the governorship in 2013. Sweeney was said to have been irritated with Ray Pocino announced an early endorsement for then-incumbent Governor Chris Christie without first conferring with Sweeney. The Laborers are also seen as the more progressive arm of the Building Trades, and certainly the organization with the biggest share of minority membership. Still, “Ras was never going to have the backing of the Building Trades,” said a Baraka ally, eyeing the prospect of 2025. If he runs for governor, the mayor will make a big play for public labor support.

In any event, his backers did not express misgivings about moving forward without Osborne, whatever his own plans may be, and whatever the mayor intends in the larger scheme of his post-2022 plans.



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