NJ Dems set to elect dead man in House primary

NJ Dems set to elect dead man in House primary

Democratic voters are set to pick a much-beloved congressman from New Jersey in the primary on Tuesday — but there’s only one problem: He’s dead.

Rep. Donald Payne Jr. had held his seat in the Garden State’s 10th Congressional District for more than a decade, and is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The 65-year-old member of the Congressional Black Caucus died April 24 after a heart attack — after the filing deadline for the primary had already passed.

Rep. Donald Payne Jr.

Rep. Donald Payne Jr. will win his primary election on Tuesday, even though he passed away April 24. Hum Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Because of this, New Jersey’s election rules state, no one can replace him on the ballot, according to the Washington Examiner.

That means Payne is still set to win the primary in the urban, deep-blue district that includes Newark and other parts of Essex, Hudson and Union counties.

But Payne’s looming victory won’t be the end of the story.

Local and state officials are already gearing up for a special primary election on July 16.

The winner is almost certain to win the special general election on Sept. 18, and will finish out the late congressman’s term, which ends in January.

Meanwhile, Democratic committee members in the district will meet to pick a new candidate for the Nov. 5 general election, the Examiner reported.  

Rep. Donald Payne Jr.

Payne Jr. came from a political family, and took over New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District seat after the death of his father, who held it for decades. LightRocket via Getty Images

Family and friends enter for the Celebration of the Life of Donald M. Payne, Jr. at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J. on Thursday, May 2, 2024.

Payne’s funeral was held on May 2 in Newark, where he was once the City Council president. AP

The winner of that race will take office next January, and represent the district until the end of 2027.

Eleven Democrats have already announced their candidacy for the upcoming special election, including Newark City Council President LaMonica McIver, Rutgers law professor Eugene Mazo, East Orange Councilwoman Brittany Claybrooks and Hudson County Commissioner Jerry Walker, the Examiner said.

Only one Republican — Carmen Bucco — filed to run in the district, which is one of the most left-leaning in the country.

A voter station.

New Jersey’s election laws said it was too late to replace the late congressman on the ballot, even though he’d passed away. Michael Rolands – stock.adobe.com

The 10th hasn’t sent a Republican to Congress since 1946, and no Democratic nominee has gotten less than three-quarters of the vote in the last two decades.

Payne’s father, Donald Milford Payne, was the first Black congressman to represent New Jersey in Congress after his 1989 election.

The elder Payne held the seat for more than two decades before his 2012 death — at which point his son took over.

With Post wires

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