The election-night victory party for Ras Baraka, the new mayor of Newark, New Jersey, took place on May 13, at a hotel in the city’s gradually reviving downtown. Jubilant union volunteers in blue T-shirts from the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) flooded the ballroom. High-schoolers from the Newark Students Union, who are at war with an unpopular, state-appointed school superintendent, clustered at tables with their organizer-chaperones. At the podium, former New Jersey governor Richard Codey and the mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, stood close to Baraka, basking in the vindication of their gamble to back him, in calculated defiance of the state’s Democratic machine power brokers.
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