65-year old, Rep. Donald Payne Jr. died earlier today after being hospitalized since suffering a heart attack from diabetes complications on April 6.  A Newark native, Payne was first elected to represent New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District in 2012, succeeding his father in the post.

Known for his trademark bow tie, Payne previously had served on the Newark City Council and as a Freeholder from Essex County.

Governor Phil Murphy said of the Congressman, “With his signature bow tie, big heart, and tenacious spirit, Donald embodied the very best of public service. As a former union worker and toll collector, he deeply understood the struggles our working families face, and he fought valiantly to serve their needs, every single day.  Donald’s love will live on in the homes of his neighbors in Newark, who now have access to safe drinking water, and in the good-paying jobs he helped create for his brothers and sisters in labor.”

Other words of praise came pouring in as the day passed, each describing the Democrat with love and respect.  West New York Mayor Albio Sires, who served 16 years in Congress, many alongside Payne, stated, “The residents of New Jersey, Newark and the 10th Congressional District lost a great leader.  My former colleague and dear friend Donald M. Payne, Jr was one of the most caring and gentle individuals I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. My sympathies go out to his wife Beatrice, his triplets Donald III, Jack and Yvonne and his Uncle, former NJ Assemblyman William D. Payne during this difficult time. Donald was a leader on protecting families against gun violence, civil rights, transportation, and fighting for New Jersey working families. His leadership efforts in these areas will succeed him for many years to come. He was a champion for all people and believed that everyone should have the chance to realize their potential to the fullest. The Congressman served his constituents with great distinction whether on the Newark City Council, Essex County Board of Commissioners or following in his father’s footsteps, the late Donald M. Payne Sr.   His legacy will live on for many years to come.  Rest Well My Friend.”

Hudson County Executive Craig Guy issued the following statement, “I am deeply saddened by the death of Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr.   All of Hudson County sends sincere condolences to his wife, Beatrice, and their three children Donald III, Jack, and Yvonne. With a passion and dedication for public service, Donald worked his way up from within county and state offices to win elections for the Essex County Board of Freeholders and Municipal Council of Newark. He then succeeded his father in Congress in 2012, and has since embodied the committed, humble public servant we all strive to represent when we take office. On a personal note, soon after I became County Executive I met with Rep. Payne and constituents to bolster efforts to combat escalating gun violence. Donald was a tireless advocate for voting rights, the pillar of our democracy. In the House of Representatives, he was chosen by his colleagues to lead speeches in favor of expanding voting rights and fighting against voter disenfranchisement efforts. Donald also played a vital role in standing up for minority- and women-owned businesses in Congress. As Rail subcommittee chairman, Donald was a leading voice in guaranteeing minority business participation for federal passenger rail construction projects. We here in Hudson County continue to admire Congressman Payne’s values and work ethic and I thank him for his representation of District 10 in Washington, D.C. My thoughts and prayers are with Beatrice and their children in this difficult time. May he rest in peace.” 

Jersey City Mayoral candidate Mussab Ali added, “The first time I met Congressman Payne I was just a teenager and he told me that public service should be a part of every person’s life. The last time I saw Congressman Payne Jr. I wore a bow tie in his honor knowing it was a part of his trademark look. The Payne family name has a long history in NJ politics and his father made history as the first black person elected to Congress in New Jersey. He was an advocate for young people, a progressive, and ahead of his time on several issues. May he rest in peace.”

Congressman Payne was running unopposed in in the June 4th Democratic primary election.  Since ballots have already gone out, Payne’s name will remain in place.  After the primary is certified, the county committees in the 10th District will decide who will be the candidate in November.

However, Governor Murphy has two options as to when voters in the district will be able to fill the seat for the remainder of this Congressional term.  There must be a special election since there are more than six months remaining on the term.

The Governor can call for a special primary election.   That must take place 70 to 76 days after he announces his decision, and then a special general election must be held 64 to 70 days after the special primary election.

The second option is to have a special election on November 5, so voters in the 10th district can pick who finishes this, current term, as well as who fills the seat for the next term at the same time.



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