Source: Tucker won’t Oppose Burgess at Convention for the LD28 Senate Seat

From left on the week before the elecction: Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, Senator Ronald L. Rice, and Assemblyman Ralph Caputo.

It is expected that Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (pictured, above left) won’t run for the senate seat in LD28.

It’s over.

The convention scheduled for tomorrow, Sept. 9th, leaves Irvington Council President Renee Burgess in the favored position for the seat left by retired state Senator Ronald L. Rice (above, center).

Senator Rice retired at the end of August and backed Tucker over Burgess for the seat.

While Newark Mayor Ras Baraka never came out publicly for Tucker, the mayor and his allies respected

Mayor Baraka

Rice’s choice and would not oppose Tucker.

But Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss and the Irvington Democratic Committee aligned behind Burgess, and brought in support from Bloomfield and the county, giving them the edge in any developing fight for the seat.

A potential 2025 candidate for governor who would run without the backing of the Essex County Democratic committee, Baraka made political moves under a microscope.

Each action carried an implication at the edge of a full-blown political war with the county, with his gubernatorial ambition a key strategic component.

The mayor heard from various allies in his inner circle.

Tucker won’t challenge Burgess at the convention.


But what about next year, off the line?

That question weighed heavily.


The mayor couldn’t afford (or could he, in a pinch, in a district that the iconic Rice had controlled since the early 1980’s, after all?) to lose senatorial courtesy, which he had with key ally Rice.

That said, if Baraka accelerates a rogue position and adopts a war footing as early as next year, he could probably expect two allies – Alturrick Kenney and John Sharpe James – to lose backing from the Essex County Democratic Committee respectively for surrogate and commissioner.

So he’s juggling, Baraka.

If he decides it’s worth the risk, and backs a slate off the line next year against LD28 Senator Burgess, he and his allies would also have to decide if Tucker is their strongest anti-establishment candidate for the senate seat.

Other names have surfaced to head an off-the-line ticket in LD28 with the mayor’s backing.

Two include South Ward Democratic Committee Chairman Pat Council (who is also the South Ward Councilman), and attorney Chigozie Onyema.

But again, for Baraka, it’s still a question mark against the larger statewide backdrop, with other pieces in the mayor’s Essex political empire at stake.

By the end of the day, a source pointed out that Council doesn’t occupy the district. The war paint factor seemed to be wearing off even before the first thumb hit the drum.

From left: James, Richardson, Council, and Tucker.


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