U.S. Senator Cory Booker will return to his roots at Newark City hall this morning, joining a one-time political rival file petitions for the mayoral election in May.
Mayor Ras Baraka, seeking re-election to a second term, was never a Booker fan. Back in 2012, when Booker was mayor and Baraka was a city councilman, Baraka walked off the stage during Booker’s State of the City address. Baraka and Councilwoman Mildred Crump were angry that Booker went after them for refusing to cut their own salaries and staffs amidst significant layoffs.
Despite Booker’s popularity – this was the year before he won a U.S. Senate seat – he was never the most beloved man in the South Ward. That was the political base of Sharpe James, the mayor Booker fought with as the Central Ward councilman, lost to in 2002, and then forced to retire four years later. Baraka was the South Ward councilman.
Six years later, all seems good between Booker and Baraka. The credit for that goes to Mo Butler, Booker’s former top aide and now an executive at Mercury Public Affairs. Butler is an expert on Newark politics and as developed a tight relationship with the new mayor as a trusted and valued advisor. That created an alliance between two once bitter foes that is mutually beneficial to the mayor and to a United States Senator who might be eyeing the White House.