Deceased Democrat lawmaker Ronald Payne Jr. wins New Jersey primary

 June 6, 2024

An interesting turn of events in New Jersey politics led to a victory for one unsuspecting candidate's family -- in the sense that the candidate had previously died. 

According to The Post Millennial, Ronald Payne Jr., a New Jersey Democrat who represented the state's 10th District and died in April, won his primary election this week as he was on the ballot uncontested.

Payne, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, reportedly died in April at age 65 of a heart attack.

The deceased congressman held the seat since 2012 and preceded by his father, who held the seat for decades prior to his son taking over.

What's going on?

While Payne might have won the seat from the afterlife, several New Jersey Democrats are lining up to take a shot at the vacant seat in an upcoming special election.

The Post Millennial noted:

A special election will be held to replace Payne on July 16 and the Democrat field already has some dozen candidates seeking the office. New Jersey's 10th district spans Newark, Hudson, Union and Essex counties and has been held by a Democrat since 1947. Carmen Bucco won for the GOP.

Payne suffered a heart attack in early April, and died some three weeks after the cardiac event. The initial heart attack left him in a coma until his death.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka released a statement after the congressman's death, praising him for his work in the district.

"Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr. carried his devotion to the residents of Newark from his first teenage involvement as founder of the Newark South Ward Junior Democrats, through his service as President of our Municipal Council, to his acclaimed advocacy for New Jersey as Representative in Congress," Baraka said at the time.

Statements on his death

Several notable Democrats, including Gov. Phil Murphy, released statements praising the late congressman after his death was announced.

"With his signature bowtie, big heart, and tenacious spirit, Donald embodied the very best of public service," the governor said at the time.

He added, "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. That purpose was the light that guided him through his early years as Newark City Council President and during his tenure on the Essex County Board of Commissioners. And it guided him still through his more than a decade of service in Congress."

Only time will tell which New Jersey Democrat -- or Republican -- takes over Payne's seat.

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