Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is confident going into today’s election – but not confident enough to predict a landslide or prematurely talk about a mandate for a second term.
“I feel like it, yea,” said when asked if he thought he would carry all of the city’s wards, including the Central Ward, where his opponent councilwoman Gayle Cheneyfield-Jenkins was elected.
That feeling isn’t based on nothing. Baraka canvassers vastly outnumber those of his opponent – the result of a citywide canvassing operation that started last night – and the incumbent mayor has fielded vehicles mounted with speakers and plastered with campaign posters to spread his message around the city.
One particularly gaudy truck – a flatbed with a large upward-pointing arrow made out of posters for LaMonica McIver, Council, Baraka’s Central Ward candidate and a circle of large speakers, resembled a parade float more than it did a truck.
Baraka also comes to the contest with the support of incumbent council members that are ready and willing to campaign on the mayor’s behalf.
Such is the case for North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, who in addition to covering the north side of the city is helping Baraka in his attempt to take the Central Ward, said Mo Butler, a Democratic strategist working with Baraka’s campaign.
“The mayor and the North Ward councilman, they’re partnering up on the Central Ward because there’s 13 districts in the Central Ward that are predominantly Latino,” Butler said. “All the work was done prior to today. They’ve been canvassing for months. They’ve identified their voters. Now – today – is just focused on execution and getting their voters out.”
But will that work pay off for Baraka, or will some of his council candidates have to face off against opponents in runoff elections?
Baraka was confident and said his candidates would win, but he would not speculate on how wide a margin they would take.
“We’ll see when the election is over,” Baraka said. “It’s not over yet, it’s over tonight. We’ll be able to determine all that when it’s over.”