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Michael Carson, the beloved Newark North Ward Republican Municipal Chairman for 27 years who had close friends on both sides of the aisle, died on November 17. He was 65.
Carson was a lifelong North Ward resident who became active in politics in the 1970s.
In 1992, Carson ousted longtime North Ward GOP powerhouse Anthony Toto Cuozzi to become municipal chairman.
As a Republican, he maintained close friendships and alliances with key Newark Democrats, including Stephen Adubato, Sr., Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Nutley), and city councilmen Luis Quintana and Anibal Ramos, Jr.
“I loved the guy,” said Caputo who began his political career as a GOP assemblyman from the North Ward in 1967. “He was a character, but he was our character. I’m going to miss him.”
His political clout came through Newark’s non-partisan municipal elections, where his ability to deliver a small but significant base of votes in city elections made him a powerful insider.
“That’s where he shined,” Caputo told the New Jersey Globe. “He made a difference. He had very keen instincts. He was the master of numbers. We adored him.”
Carson was serving as a commissioner of the Essex County Board of Election until the time of his death.
After the U.S. Census every decade, Carson took the lead in redrawing Newark’s ward and district maps.
Despite the overwhelming Democratic voter registration edge in the North Ward, Carson was known for keeping his 64 seats on the Essex County Republican Committee filled.
He also controlled county committee votes in other wards.
That made Carson a valuable ally of former State Sen. Kevin O’Toole when he was the Essex County Republican Chairman, and of one of his closest friends, Al Barlas, who has been county chairman for the last nine years.
He was an “old school” party chairman who paid attention to his county committee members all year long, Caputo said.
Visitation will be held on November 26 from 10 AM to noon at the Alvarez Funeral Home in Newark’s North Ward., followed by a burial at the Glendale Cemetery.