Rice doesn’t rule out challenging Joe D. but probably prefers a Jeffries candidacy

Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28) wants Democrats to mount a challenge against incumbent Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo next year, and he hasn’t ruled out himself – although he acknowledges the unlikeliness of a Rice candidacy.

He suspects former AG’s Counsel Shavar Jeffries would be a good candidate.

Jeffries is a candidate for mayor in at least a four-way 2014 contest that includes Councilmen Ras Baraka, Anibal Ramos and Darrin Sharif. A source today told PolitickerNJ.com that former Councilman Hector Corchado is also mulling a run.

The jam up, Rice says, should spark some consideration of another collective strategy as Essex Democrats jolted by DiVincenzo’s defection this year to the camp of Republican incumbent Gov. Chris Christie consider some form of payback.

“You never say no to anything,” said the veteran lawmaker, up for re-election this year, when asked if he’d personally challenge the executive. “You take elections one at a time, and next year we have the mayor and county executive race. I know there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with the county executive. He’s doing a good job with the parks and golf courses. Let’s give credit where it’s due. But there are a lot of concerns, especially over the fact that the only thing he took care of first wasn’t Essex, but family and friends. They’re doing well. The county executive will have a lot of explaining to do, particularly given the way he’s left Democrats hanging out there.

“My preference is to not to run,” Rice admitted. “I’m the state senator. That’s what I would like to do. As for Shavar, I think he would be a better candidate for county executive than mayor but you have to know what the motivation and agenda are.”

Rice wants to sit down with the younger Newarker and gauge him in a face-to-face encounter.

Sources close to Jeffries say there’s no way he’ll consent to abort his mayoral run to take aim at the executive race.

He’s dug in on mayor. 

As for DiVincenzo, his allies repeatedly make the case that the cocoon of Cory Booker (likely U.S. Senate incumbent) and Donald Payne (CD 10) on the same Democratic Primary ticket will help protect the executive from blowback over his 2013 Christiefest. 

"This meeting is entirely off the record. Until somebody leaks it."
—Michael Kempner, addressing a roomful of Democratic powerbrokers organizng for Hillary Clinton