Today at 5:36pm Donald M. Payne, Jr. was sworn in as the newest member of the United States House of Representatives, representing NJ’s current (and, come January, “new”) 10th Congressional District. Payne won two separate elections on November 6th: the first was a special election to fill out the unexpired portion of his late father’s two-year term from today until January 3, 2013 and the second to represent the newly reconfigured 10th Congressional District from January 3, 2013-January 3, 2015 in the 113th Congress. You can watch him be sworn-in here. The great thing about Donald Payne, Jr. being sworn in today is that he will have seniority over the other approximately 80 new members of the House (who will be sworn-in on January 3rd) which will prove important later in his Congressional career with regard to committee assignments, office location, etc. and will prove beneficial for his constituents.
Payne won the special election with 97% of the vote against Independent candidate Joanne Miller (running under the slogan “Change, Change, Change”) who received 3%. Payne won the regular general election with 87% of the vote against Republican Brian C. Keleman (11%), Independent Joanne Miller (1%), and Libertarian Mick Erickson (0.5%). While the “old” 10th Congressional District was D+33 on the Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI; a generic Democratic presidential candidate in this District would be expected to receive 33 percentage points more votes than the national average), the “new” 10th Congressional District is only a meager D+31 on the updated Cook PVI. In any case, the 10th Congressional District remains the most Democratic Congressional District in the State of New Jersey and will remain strongly blue (most likely being represented by 53-year-old Payne for a very long time).
Frequent readers of Blue Jersey will not easily forget the heated six-way Democratic primary race that took place on June 5th in the “new” 10th Congressional District. In that election Donald Payne, Jr. received 60% of the vote, with Newark Councilman Ronald C. Rice netting 19%, NJ State Senator Nia Gill getting 17% (who faces a primary challenger this coming June 2013 from Mark Alexander in NJ’s 34th Legislative District), Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith getting 2%, Dennis Flynn (running under the “Occupy Congress” slogan) getting 1%, and Cathy Wright (running under the “Make The Wright Choice” slogan) netting 1%. In the separate Democratic primary for the current 10th Congressional District, Donald Payne, Jr. got 71%, Ron C. Rice got 25%, and Wayne Smith received 5%.
While most Blue Jerseyans supported Councilman Ronald C. Rice in the primary (myself included) the reality is that Donald Payne, Jr. very well might serve in this seat for 20-30 more years (i.e. until he retires, resigns, or dies). I truly hope he finds his niche in Congress in the same way his late father focused on protecting and promoting democracy and human rights around the globe. The late Donald M. Payne was a strong progressive and he will be missed greatly in NJ and around the world. I hope his son takes the same progressive philosophy with him as he begins his Congressional career today.
When Donald Payne, Jr. takes the Congressional oath of office today he will be resigning from his At-large seat on the Newark Municipal Council (as well as his status as Council President) in addition to his At-large Freeholder seat on the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Payne was first elected to the Newark Council in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010 so his current Council term is until July 1, 2014. Payne was first elected to the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 2005, then re-elected in 2008 and 2011 meaning his current term in that body is until December 31, 2014. I wonder who will replace him for those two seats until the elections taking place in Newark on May 13, 2014 and in Essex County on November 4, 2014?
Lastly, let us hope that Donald M. Payne, Jr. represents the people of Rahway, Linden, Roselle, Roselle Park, Union Twp., Hillside, Maplewood, Orange, East Orange, South Orange, West Orange, Irvington, Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Newark, Bayonne, and Jersey City (and parts of Millburn and Elizabeth for the next 6 weeks) as well as his father did over the past 24 years. The people of the 10th Congressional District deserve excellent constituent services and I hope that Payne, Jr. delivers like his father did in that capacity for the people in his district.