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Labor unions back candidates in 2014 Newark mayoral race

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Newark won't get to elect a new mayor until May but several labor unions already have started throwing their weight around as two candidates, South Ward councilman Ras Baraka and North Ward councilman Anibal Ramos, picked up major union endorsements Tuesday.

Baraka, a former deputy mayor, received the nod from the Communications Workers of America, which claims to represent roughly 1,900 workers residing in the city in addition to 40,000 state workers and 15,000 county and municipal workers statewide.

"Ras Baraka understands this isn't just about an election, it's about building a movement to revitalize urban areas and make our communities stronger," CWA state director Hetty Rosenstein said in a release. "The thousands of CWA members who live and work in Newark are ready to roll up our sleeves to get things done. And we look forward to working with Ras Baraka for a better, more progressive Newark."

Ramos' endorsement Tuesday came from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1158, which claims to represent roughly 3,700 workers statewide and nearly 1,700 in Essex County alone.

"Councilman Ramos has dedicated his career in public service to fighting for working families," IBEW Local 1158 business manager Joe Calabro said in a release. "He doesn't just talk the talk, he actually walks the walk. We know we will be able to count on him when he is elected mayor to do right by working families."

For Ramos, the latest union endorsement is the third he's received since announcing his candidacy. In June, he was backed by the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825.

The 2014 election will see Baraka and Ramos go up against two other mayoral candidates, Central Ward councilman Darrin Sharif and former assistant state attorney general Shavar Jeffries.

Former council president Luis Quintana has been serving as acting mayor following Cory Booker's election to the U.S. Senate in October. Quintana has said that he won't run in next year's election and will instead serve out Booker's term, which runs until the end of June.

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