Progressive Councilman Ronald C. Rice Announces His Candidacy for CD 10

"The next congressperson from the 10th cannot fill the large shoes left by Congressman Payne, but should build on his foundation. That means having a record of innovative and people oriented legislating, a record of advocating for progressive ideas and values even when not popular, and a new vision for empowering residents in the district as never before. I am that candidate and will present that record, advocacy and vision over the next two and a half months door to door, neighborhood to neighborhood, city to city and county to county, because it's time." - Ronald C. Rice (in a communication today to Blue Jersey)

Among the potential Democratic candidates West Ward Councilman Ronald C. Rice is the most compelling and progressive. He is the only one who has been actively campaigning and seeking donations in CD 10. He formed an exploratory committee in November before it was publicly known that Congressman Payne had cancer. In respect to Representative Payne, who was laid to rest yesterday, Rice did not comment on his own candidacy during the mourning period.

Ron Rice early demonstrated his progressive politics by supporting Howard Dean for President in 2003. As councilman he went on to sponsor far-reaching ethics reform, an LGBT Commission, and an Environmental Commission. He has worked to reform Newark's Police Department, convened the Council's first formal investigation, and collaborated with the NJ ACLU to track citizen complaints of police brutality which were frequently being ignored by the police department.

Most recently in a Blue Jersey diary he spoke out against the NYPD investigation of the Newark Muslim community. In an an October diary he called for the city's administration to work more closely with the City Council on joint budget planning for FY 2012. In a May diary he expressed his concern that the conditions that created the precursor to the Newark rebellion, a police brutality event, have not been corrected for over 40 years. In a 2010 posting he castigated Governor Christie for blaming President Obama for New Jersey's loss in the Race to the Top federal school education grant application.

Ron Rice first ran for city council in Newark in 2002 with Mayoral candidate Cory Booker in a losing effort documented in the Academy Award winning film "Street Fight." In 2006, while Rice's father contested Cory Booker for the mayoral race, Rice Jr. won the seat for West Ward Councilman. He was sworn into office in July along with newly elected Mayor Cory Booker. Always a progressive, among Rice's early supporters was Garden State Equality which endorsed him as "one of the bright young thinkers in New Jersey today." He also was the first elected official in New Jersey to endorse then Senator Barack Obama for President in late 2006. Rice served as a lead organizer for Obama's primary campaign and as the Essex County Coordinator in the general election of 2008.

In 2010 he again won his West Ward race, this time overwhelmingly with 3,509 votes vs. Maryam Bey with 1,141. He was endorsed amongst others by SEIU who cited his "strong support of efforts to create better jobs." Editor Rosi Efthim wrote about attending a comedy show fundraiser for this campaign in a Blue Jersey diary.

For more about Ron and the CD 10 landscape see below the fold
Rice received a B.A. from American University in Washington, DC, and a law degree from Seton Hall University. He clerked in the Essex County Prosecutor's Office and for an Essex County Superior Court judge. He then served in the State Department of Education as a policy analyst and spokesperson.

He has ben very active in his community and has been honored by many organizations. As an advocate for urban city governance innovation, he has spoken on urban public policy and political reform to diverse groups. To volunteer, contribute, or learn more, his congressional campaign website is here.

In Newark not only are "all politics local," but frequently "all politics are family." In the 2010 City Council race candidates included Donald Payne, Jr. (son of the late Representative Donald Payne), Ronald C. Rice (son of Senator Ronald L. Rice), John James (son of former Mayor Sharpe James), Oscar James, II (son of Booker's long-time political advisor Oscar James), Darrin Sharif (son of former Booker strategist Carl Sharif) and Ras Baraka (son of poet and activist Amiri Baraka). Although not necessarily certain, it is easy to suspect that the successor to the late Representative Donald Payne might well come from a family long active in local politics.

The three most prominently mentioned potential candidates are Newark City Council President and Essex County Freeholder Donald Payne, Jr., Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, and Newark Councilman Ron C. Rice. Neither Payne nor Oliver as of this moment have announced whether they plan to enter the race. Petitions to enter the June 5 primary are due April 2

There will be two separate ballots for the Primary and for the General Elections. Those residents of the current CD 10 will vote for a person to complete Representative Payne's term from November through early January, 2013, and those in the redistricted CD 10 will vote on a two year term beginning January 2013. For detailed, specific information on how the district map was changed, see the comment attached to this diary. The new district was not substantially altered and includes parts of Essex, Union, and Hudson Counties, with its historic seat of Newark.  

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