Ronald Rice

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Ronald Rice
Member of the New Jersey Senate
from the 28th Legislative District
Assumed office
December 4, 1986
Preceded byJohn P. Caufield
Deputy Mayor of Newark
In office
July 1, 2002 – March 2006
Member of the Newark Municipal Council
In office
July 1, 1982 – July 1, 1998
Personal details
Ronald L. Rice

(1945-12-18) December 18, 1945 (age 73)
Richmond, Virginia
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceNewark, New Jersey
Alma materA.S. Essex County College (Police Science)
B.S. John Jay College of Criminal Justice (Administration and Planning)
Rutgers University (Criminal Justice)
Rutgers School of Law–Newark
WebsiteLegislative web page

Ronald L. Rice (born December 18, 1945) is an American Democratic Party politician who has served in the New Jersey State Senate since 1986, where he represents the 28th Legislative District. While serving in the Senate, Rice has held a variety of different leadership roles including Associate Minority Leader (1998-2001), Assistant Deputy Minority Leader (1994-1997), and Assistant Majority Leader (1990-1991).[1]

Rice is one of the longest-serving state senators in New Jersey history.[2]

Early life, education, and military service[edit]

Rice received an A.S. from Essex County College in Police Science, a B.S. from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Administration and Planning and an M.A. from Rutgers University in Criminal Justice. He has also attended but never graduated from the Rutgers School of Law—Newark.[1] Rice served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Marines from 1966 to 1970.[3] in the Vietnam War.[4]

Career before politics[edit]

Before entering politics, Rice was a Newark police officer for eight years, then a security employee for PSEG.[5]

Political career[edit]

Newark City Council[edit]

Rice served 16 years on the Newark City Council (1982-1998), and he was the Deputy Mayor of Newark from 2002 until March 2006,[1] he stepped down as deputy mayor in order to run for mayor. During this time, dual office holding was not banned in New Jersey therefore he was able to serve on both the city council and in the State Senate at the same time.

Tenure in the state senate[edit]

Following the death of John P. Caufield in August 1986, Rice was elected in a special election to serve the 28th district and was seated on December 4, 1986. Rice never received less than two thirds of the vote in any of his Senate general elections, though he faced close challenges in the Democratic primaries from Laurence Brown in 1997, Assemblyman Willie B. Brown in 2001, and Freeholder D. Bilal Beasley in 2007.[6]

Rice serves in the Senate on the Community and Urban Affairs Committee (as Chair), the Joint Committee on the Public Schools and the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.[1] Rice was one of only two Democrats in the Senate to vote no on two bills to legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey in 2009 and 2012, the other twice-dissenting Democrat was Jeff Van Drew.[7][8]

Rice was one of New Jersey's presidential electors in the 2004 presidential election, for Democratic candidate John Kerry.[9]

Rice was a leading opponent of legislation in 2018-19 session to legalize marijuana in New Jersey.[5][10]

2006 Mayoral bid[edit]

Rice had run for unsuccessfully for Mayor of Newark in 1998 being defeated by incumbent mayor (and future Senate colleague) Sharpe James.

On March 6, 2006, Rice entered the mayoral race again, noting "that Mayor James had encouraged him to run but noted that if the mayor decided to join the race, his candidacy could change."[11] On March 27, 2006, James announced that he would not seek a sixth term, preferring to focus on his seat in the New Jersey Senate.[12]

On Election Day, May 9, 2006, Newark's nonpartisan election took place. Former City Councilman Cory Booker won with 72% of the vote, soundly defeating Rice, the runner-up, who received 23%.[13]

Election history[edit]

New Jersey State Senate elections, 2013[14]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ronald L. Rice (incumbent) 27,265 75.7
Republican Frank Contella 8,744 24.3
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2011[15]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ronald L. Rice (incumbent) 14,781 76.6
Republican Russell Mollica 4,519 23.4
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2007[16]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ronald L. Rice (incumbent) 12,821 77.0
Republican Herbert Glen 3,838 23.0
Democratic hold

Personal life[edit]

His son, Ronald C. Rice, is a former city councilman in Newark, New Jersey.


  1. ^ a b c d Senator Rice's legislative web page, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed April 14, 2008.
  2. ^ New Jersey’s longest serving State Senators, Observer (September 7, 2009).
  3. ^ Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey - Two Hundred and Eleventh Legislature (First Session) (PDF). Skinder-Strauss Associates. 2004. pp. 236–237. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
  4. ^ Benson, Josh. "Who Is Ronald Rice Anyway?", The New York Times, April 23, 2006. Accessed November 4, 2018. "A Vietnam veteran and former Newark police officer, Mr. Rice has served for the past two decades as a public official in Trenton and Newark, and has long wanted to be mayor."
  5. ^ a b Mike Kelly, Ronald Rice's lonely quest to block legal pot, North Jersey Record (March 15, 2019).
  6. ^ "NJ Election Information and Results Archive". Secretary of State of New Jersey. Retrieved July 4, 20151997, 2001, 2007
  7. ^ James, Davy. "Democrats Line Up the Votes to Pass Gay Marriage Bill". Patch. Retrieved July 4, 2015. In 2009, the only Republican to vote for the Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act, as it was called, was Sen. Bill Baroni (Hamilton). ... Meanwhile, Democratic [Sen] Ronald Rice (Essex) voted against the bill.
  8. ^ Staff. "N.J. Senate approves bill legalizing gay marriage", The Star-Ledger, February 13, 2012. Accessed June 24, 2012. "Two Democrats, Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) and Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May), voted no."
  9. ^ 2004 Presidential Election: Electoral College Members, National Archives and Records Administration. Accessed July 10, 2007.
  10. ^ Nick Corasaniti, Effort to Legalize Marijuana in New Jersey Collapses, New York Times (March 25, 2019).
  11. ^ New York Times Metro Briefing - NEWARK: DEPUTY MAYOR ENTERS THE RACE The New York Times, March 6, 2006
  12. ^ Sharpe Drops Out: James cites only his position against holding dual offices / Star-Ledger, March 28, 2006.
  13. ^ Elects Cory Booker to Be New Mayor: Newark Elects Cory Booker First New Mayor in Two Decades in Landslide Victory[permanent dead link], ABC News, May 9, 2006.
  14. ^ "Official List Candidates for State Senate For GENERAL ELECTION 11/05/2015 Election" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. December 4, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
  15. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2011 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 14, 2011. Accessed June 24, 2012.
  16. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2007 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 3, 2007. Accessed June 24, 2012.

External links[edit]

New Jersey Senate
Preceded by
John P. Caufield
Member of the New Jersey Senate for the 28th District
December 4, 1986 – present
Succeeded by