Rice Refuses to Mug at DiVincenzo Event


NEWARK – It probably goes without saying, but two Democratic politicians stayed clear of that warm and cozy tent this morning where the party establishment celebrated Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.

“I’m not going to stand there hypocritically grinning,” said state Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28), among the missing, along with Senator (and former Governor) Dick Codey, his longtime ally.

He doesn’t plan to run against DiVincenzo. Neither does he know of anyone who will, he said.

“I’m not hypocritical,” the Newark senator said. “My politics and Joe’s disagree. He’s always going on about how he puts ‘Essex County first.’ No, Joe. You put your friends and family and South Jersey first. Look, Essex Country College is at a bad place right now, and this a guy who courted Chris Christie – twice.

“Let’s give credit where credit is due,” Rice added. “Joe D’s done great for parks and golf courses. But corrections has never been where it’s supposed to be, and there’s a lot of other things that have gone wrong. I’ll work with him, but I’m not going to take a lot of the political crap they put out with George p[South Jersey Democratic Power broker George Norcross]. My concern is we do the right thing for the college and the people we represent. I just don’t want to stand there grinning and hypocritical as he carries on with these personally advantageous and South Jersey relationships.”

DiVincenzo Chief of Staff Phil Alagia shot back.

“Ron’s consistent, but his political team was there supporting us,” he said, noting the presence, among others, of Freeholder Rufus Johnson and West Ward Councilman Joe McCallum, Jr.

He also objected to Rice’s criticism of how the DiVincenzo Administration runs the jail.

“We went from a poorly run patronage mill to a nationally accredited and recognized operation,” Alagia said.

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