New Jersey Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. dies at age 65 following hospitalization

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
New Jersey Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. dies at age 65
Anthony Johnson has the story in Newark on the congressman.

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Rep. Donald Payne Jr. has died at the age of 65 after he was hospitalized earlier this month for a cardiac episode tied to complications from diabetes.

Payne is remembered for having a quiet nature and never sought the spotlight, but always put service to the people first. He leaves behind quite a track record which includes improving passenger and freight rail service, better health care screening and awareness, and working to take care of the needs of children.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy released a statement on Wednesday announcing the congressman's death:

"With his signature bowtie, 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. 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."

FILE - Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-N.J., poses for a ceremonial photo in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol after the new 113th Congress convened on Jan. 3, 2013, in Washington.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Murphy went on to say that Payne'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 to create for his brothers and sisters in labor.

"His dogged determination to win appropriations to win federal funding for the Gateway Project resulted in a $900 million appropriation to upgrade and refashion the infrastructure connecting downtown New York City to the heart of Newark, and reinvigorate the greater Northeast transportation corridor," said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. "Through his career, Representative Payne gained expertise in transportation, bridges, and tunnels, but his personal traits also fostered connections. He had a talent for engaging a wide spectrum of collaborators for projects he promoted, and strived to increase inclusive opportunities and diversity by inviting women- and minority-owned businesses."

He was elected to 10th Congressional District in 2012 after his father, the state's first Black congressman, died of cancer.

Payne will posthumously win the June 4 Democratic primary for his seat. He was running unopposed and the ballots are already printed.

After the June 17 deadline to certify the results of that primary election, Secretary of State Tahesha Way will declare a vacancy for the Democratic nomination in NJ-10. Democratic county committee members in the district -- Essex, Hudson, and Union counties -- will then likely call a convention and pick a nominee.

Payne has battled a series of health issues in recent years, including diabetes and kidney-related, and required regular dialysis. He leaves behind his wife Beatrice and their three children, Donald III, Jack and Yvonne.

New York Congressman and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries also released a statement on social media offering his support to Payne's family:

Funeral services are in the works as New Jersey and the nation honor a man who believed in the value of serving others.


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