Ras Baraka declares victory in Newark mayor's race

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The son of late poet and activist Amiri Baraka has declared victory in the race to succeed Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker as mayor of New Jersey's largest city.

Ras Baraka has served on Newark's City Council and was a staunch critic of Booker, who stepped down last year to run for the Senate. He declared victory Tuesday with nearly all districts counted and with a 54 percent to 46 percent lead over former state assistant attorney general Shavar Jeffries.

Baraka and Jeffries are Democrats, but the election was nonpartisan. The race featured an expensive television advertising fight in recent weeks.

Baraka supporters held a raucous celebration at a downtown Newark hotel.

Baraka inherits a fiscal crisis that has left Newark in danger of being subject to state monitoring.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Voters are deciding Tuesday who will lead New Jersey's largest city after its mayor left for the U.S. Senate — a law professor and former schools official or a politician who is the son of the late militant poet Amiri Baraka.

Newark residents are choosing between former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries and City Councilman Ras Baraka. The winner will succeed Cory Booker, who stepped down last year after bringing a dose of celebrity to the office.

The race has featured an expensive television advertising war in recent weeks.

Baraka, 44, is the son of Amiri Baraka, the militant man of letters who extended the political debates of the civil rights era to the arts world. He has the support of the labor-connected New Jersey Working Families organization, which has paid for ads that accuse Jeffries of being a pawn of moneyed outside interests.

Jeffries, 39, is a former Newark school board president who is now a law professor at Seton Hall University; he has the support of the independent Newark First organization. His ads have accused Baraka of voting to increase his pay while laying off police in Newark, where murders spiked to a 10-year high last year.

State monitors will be on hand to ensure fair elections.

Luis Quintana, a municipal council official, has been serving as interim mayor since Booker's departure.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.