Documentarian Marshall Curry chronicles the 2002 mayoral race in Newark, New Jersey. The election involves Sharpe James, who has held the seat for 16 years, and his challenger, attorney Cory Booker. Curry investigates the legality and ethics of the veteran mayor's tactics, and captures James' staff engaging in illicit behavior and threatening their competition with violence. James' vicious smear campaign is also documented. Spike Lee and Cornel West appear in the film on Booker's behalf.