April 19, 2006
Astute observers of urban political campaigns know better than to be surprised when candidates "play the race card"; but how often does this happen when both opponents are black? Cory Booker is the frontrunner to take the reins of Newark, New Jersey from longtime Mayor Sharpe James, but Booker's catching flack from his closest competitor, Deputy Mayor Ronald Rice. Rice has charged that Booker's support of school vouchers makes him the "New Jersey point-person of the far-right Christian wing of the Republican Party," and he called Booker a proxy for "ultra-white, ultra-conservative" power. Never mind that Booker is a black Democrat. Thankfully, those demagogic tactics don't seem to be working. The Rev. Reginald T. Jackson, executive director of the Black Ministers' Council of New Jersey, says, "I think a majority of citizens in Newark want school change by any means necessary." Surely that goes double for impoverished parents fed up with shoddy public schools. So Booker can count on the support of Newark's families; Rice can keep spewing venom and count on the local teachers union.
"Voucher Issue a Touchy Topic in Newark Race," by Damien Cave and Josh Benson, New York Times, April 17, 2006