New WHYY Post: What’s Next for Jersey Ed Reform after Newark and Trenton Losses?May 14, 2014
QOD: Where was Cory Booker during the Baraka/Jeffries Contest?May 16, 2014
After a fiery victory speech Tuesday, Newark’s new mayor-elect Ras Baraka left the stage—only to surprise revelers by returning minutes later. He had forgotten to thank an important supporter: the state’s public-sector unions.
Public-employee unions spent almost $500,000 supporting Mr. Baraka, and their boisterous presence at his packed election party—clanging cowbells and rattling maracas—signaled they were among the undisputed winners in a mayoral contest that pitted the state’s top political players against each other.
At stake: the chance to shape how New Jersey’s largest city moves past the Cory Booker years, as well as control of the state Democratic Party as it tries to replace Gov. Chris Christie in the next gubernatorial election.
Junius Williams in NJ Spotlight:
Baraka won because he was able to put together a coalition of community groups and labor unions, and to convert the anger against the state and Cami Anderson for what was perceived as the destruction of the Newark school district. (by the end of 2015, Newark is projected to have 40 percent of its students in privately run charter schools).
“The citizens of Newark for eight years had one of the most well-trained, articulate attorneys to be found in the country, Cory Booker,” Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver said after Baraka was declared the winner. “Everyone knows that that was not the best outcome for the citizens.”
Charter schools are popular in Newark — one in five schoolchildren attends one. But Mr. Baraka and his supporters particularly galvanized anger at Cami Anderson, the school superintendent, over a plan that would have shifted the city away from neighborhood schools, and closed some. The debate had become so toxic that Ms. Anderson announced she would no longer attend school board meetings.
“Cami Anderson handed Ras the football at the 50-yard line, and he just ran it down the field,” said Bruno Tedeschi, a political consultant who worked for Mr. Jeffries, a law professor at Seton Hall and a former assistant state attorney general.
“I think their message in the campaign, which was reinforced by the independent expenditure organizations, was that Shavar was no different from Cami Anderson and Chris Christie, and he wants to destroy the schools,” Mr. Tedeschi said. “Obviously nothing could be farther from the truth, but they hammered it and it seemed to resonate.”
If Bill de Blasio needs a partner in rebuilding America’s urban core, he can now look west, just across the Hudson River, to Newark, where Ras Baraka was elected mayor yesterday. Baraka’s election means a lot to progressives, organized labor, teachers and others in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city—and it is a significant defeat for Governor Chris Christie and his allies in the Democratic party, including former Newark Mayor Corey Booker and the Democratic party bosses George Norcross and Joe DiVincenzo. It might also represent a key tipping point for the next New Jersey race for governor, which—if Christie resigns in the scandal that is plaguing him or, alternately, if and when he resigns to run for president—could happen as early as 2015.