Still: Why the beads of sweat on Booker’s bald brow? The Newark Mayor shouldn’t take any of this for granted—if he’s really as smart as they say. Observers were stunned by the unexpected bid from Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex)—a crafty, holds-no-tongue North Jersey political queen and former teacher. Booker was supposed to have been the only African-American in the race. And while the Speaker’s entrance may appear quixotic at best, it could open up a can of stink for Booker particularly as it 1) relates to the black vote and 2) impacts his ability to charm the rest of North Jersey outside of Newark.
Consequently, Oliver may hold the key to her home of Essex County—which, incidentally, holds Newark. It is the most densely populated county behind Hudson County neighboring New York City, holding some 800,000 residents and a piggy bank of crucial voting blocs. No one can win statewide in Jersey without Essex, and the entrance of Oliver just made that plan a lot more difficult for Booker.