At a meeting this morning Essex Democrats in LD28 received the name of Irvington Council President Renee Burgess as the choice by the bulk of the committee to assume the LD28 seat of retired state Senator Ronald L. Rice.
A special convention is set for Sept. 9th at Bloomfield College.
About 60% of the committee backs Burgess.
Look for the cascade of establishment endorsements in the coming hours and days.
Bu the story hardly ends there, as LD28 right now carries larger political implications.
The West Ward and South Ward of Newark do not support Burgess, and instead favor Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker for the seat. The west and the south contain those committee members mostly in the camp of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who backs Tucker.
Burgess (see career details below) has the backing of Team Irvington Strong and Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss, and attendant allies, including Bloomfield.
Tucker has the support of Rice, the retired Senator.
So it will presumably be Burgess versus Tucker at Bloomfield College.
“Let the games begin,” said an Essex source.
The matchup underscores the distance right now between the county forces of Essex County Democratic
Committee Chairman LeRoy Jones and Baraka, who appears to be gearing up for a 2025 run for governor without the backing of the committee in his own home county.
If she beats Tucker at the special convention, Burgess will look to fill Rice’s unexpired term this year and then run next year to secure the seat.
At that point, Baraka will face a critical decision about whether to furnish a slate – maybe led by Tucker or another ally – to challenge Burgess’ team off the line, forcing a proxy war in the 28th, which will in part determine the mayor’s campaigns and elections strength ahead of his own possible gubernatorial bid.
A source put forward the name of South Ward Councilman Pat Council as a potential candidate for the state senate next year if the committee and Baraka do not amicably resolve the senate seat at the convention. The South Ward Democratic Chairman, Council is a key mayoral ally.
Burgess emerged from Irvington only after a contest.
The party chair initially favored her own daughter, Councilwoman Jamillah
Beasley, daughter of the late Essex County Commissioner D. Bilal Beasley, as the choice to succeed Rice. But after an election among committee members, the veteran Burgess emerged as the clear Irvington victor and the official choice of Team Irvington Strong.
Burgess beating Beasley spared arguably an impolitic outcome, at least when it comes to Senator Rice and his allies.
It was the councilwoman’s father, Commissioner Beasley, who challenged Senator Rice with the backing of the Essex County Democratic Committee in 2007.
Off the line, Rice beat Commissioner Beasley.
No one nursed any political animus, but Rice and Beasley were real political rivals, after all.
“Renee C. Burgess has an extensive background in leadership and public service through elected and appointed positions in government as well as employment in the private sector. A lifelong resident of Irvington, New Jersey, she has served the community as a member of the Irvington Township Municipal Council since 2014. Her path to elected office began in 2000 when she became the District Leader for Irvington’s South 2. Burgess later was elected to the Irvington School Board, a position she held longer than any other member to date (2003-2014). Her performance on the Board was acknowledged by her colleagues when she was chosen by them to become the Vice President of the Board for one year and the Board’s President for two terms. During her tenure on the Irvington School Board, Burgess was successful in leading the initiative for uniforms to be worn by all students of the school district. She was also a prime proponent of the school district’s football field which is a place of pride for the community.
“In addition to these accomplishments, Burgess founded and is the president of the Thurgood Marshall Area Block Association and is the Committee Chair of the Irvington South Ward Democratic Committee. In 2014, Burgess was bestowed the honor and responsibility of serving Irvington when she was elected to the Irvington Municipal Council as Council Member-At-Large, which provides her a platform from which to serve all residents and business-owners of the township. She was re-elected to the position of Council Member-At-Large in 2018. On October 15, 2019, Burgess was appointed to serve as the President of the Municipal Council.”