Newark Councilman Ronald C. Rice Soliciting Support for Possible Congressional Run
Announced on Facebook and YouTube
"In January, after much prayer and consultation, I began exploring a bid for Congress because our Congress is broken," says Rice, who represents Newark's West Ward, in the YouTube video. "We need new ideas and new leadership to finally tackle age old problems that have persisted in our nation for far too long."
Rice then asked people to lend support and donate money via his website.
If he were to run this year, Rice's rival would be U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Sr. (D-NJ), who has long held New Jersey's 10th congressional district seat since 1988 and was the state's first elected African-American congressman.
The congressional district is a reliable Democratic Party bastion and covers parts of Essex, Union, and Hudson counties, according to this map.
If Rice were to throw his hat in the ring, he and Payne, both Newark natives, would go toe to toe in this year's June primary with the victor likely winning the seat in the November elections.
Back in November, Rice announced he was forming an exploratory committee, according to a previous Patch report.
His committee held a cocktail reception on Jan. 30, Monday at the Spot Bar & Restaurant on Commerce Street in Newark, according to Rice's Facebook page. Attendants were encouraged to donate money towards the group.
Rice delivered a "fiery speech" calling for change, according to PolitickerNJ, which covered the event.
Rice said in a short text message that he hopes to raise $90,000 within a month.
Rice, whose council term ends in 2014, is the son of state Sen. Ronald L. Rice (D-Essex). The younger Rice serves alongside Payne's son, Donald Payne, Jr., who is the city's council president.
Councilman Rice was first elected to the Newark council in 2006 as part of Mayor Cory Booker's slate, but has emerged as an independent-minded politician who has investigated allegations of police misconduct under Booker's handpicked police director, then Garry McCarthy, and has advocated for a city inspector general and stricter pay-to-play rules.
Payne, 77, would be a formidable opponent with his strong backing of the state's Democratic Party.
The longtime congressman serves as the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and is a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, according to his official Congressional biography.
From his seat, Payne said in his biography that he has advocated for better education, workforce protections, and human rights in the world.
Both men did not immediately reply for comment on Thursday. Several days after the YouTube video aired, Rice said that if he decides to run, he will hold a press event announcing it.
Rice had said in a previous Patch report that it's not personal and said he is aware of the challenges of running against Payne, who is one of Newark's elder statesmen. "I have a very good relationship with (Payne)," he said in the same report.
-Newark Patch Editor Lia Eustachewich contributed to this report.
*Editor's note: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated that Newark Councilman Ronald Rice is officially running for Congress. He has not made an official declaration yet.