Ras Baraka is widely expected to score a big win tonight in his bid for a second term as mayor of Newark. Here are seven things to watch for:
1. Can Baraka top Cory Booker’s 72% win in 2006? Few insiders expect him to outperform Booker’s lopsided win over State Sen. Ronald Rice. But if he’s under Booker’s 50%-35% win over Clifford Minor in 2010, then he will have fallen way short of expectations.
2. Does Baraka carry all five Newark wards? That’s the expectation. The only real drama is in the Central Ward, the home base of Baraka’s opponent, councilwoman Gayle Cheneyfield-Jenkins.
3. Will the Baraka slate of City Council At-Large candidates avoid a runoff? All four incumbents are running with the mayor and one of the legacy markers for Baraka is a clean sweep of the At-Large seats tonight.
4. What happens in the East Ward? It looks as though a runoff will be nearly impossible to avoid. Baraka’s candidate is longtime incumbent Augusto Amador, who faces two tough oppponents: former Newark Police Director Anthony Campos and former school board member Crystal Fonseca. Campos backs Baraka, while Fonseca is on Cheneyfield Jenkins’ slate. If Amador goes to the runoff, Campos and Fonseca will join forces.
5. Runoff in the Central Ward? This is the only open council seat – the one Cheneyfield Jenkins is giving up to run for mayor. Baraka’s candidate is LaMonica Mciver and Chenyfield Jenkins is backing Rashon Jasan. There are seven other candidates, and both sides acknowledge the possibility of a runoff for the Central Ward seat.
6. Is Joe McCallum runoff-bound? The incumbent West Ward councilman is the likely winner, but there has been a concern all along that the presence of five other candidates on the ballot could keep him under the 50% mark.
7. How impressive will the margins be for Anibal Ramos and John Sharpe James? One insider predicted that Ramos and James are going to “wipe the floor” with their opponents. Phil Alagia, one of the top operatives in the state, is running GOTV for Baraka and Ramos in the North Ward. James has the South Ward operations of Baraka, Rep. Donald Payne and his father, former mayor Sharpe James.
A great night for Baraka is a 2-1 win, with only the East Ward council race headed to a runoff. A bad night is four or more City Council runoffs.