Rep. Donald Payne Jr. Dies

65-year-old NJ Democrat had a heart attack earlier this month
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2024 2:18 PM CDT
Rep. Donald Payne Jr. Dies
Donald Payne Jr. stands during the funeral of his father, Rep. Donald Payne Sr., in Newark, NJ, March 13, 2012.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Democratic Rep. Donald Payne Jr. has become the first House member to die in office during the 118th Congress. The 65-year-old, who had represented New Jersey's 10th District since 2012, had been hospitalized since early this month after what his office said was a "cardiac episode based on complications from his diabetes," NBC News reports.

  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy praised Payne as a "steadfast champion for the people of New Jersey," the AP reports. "With his signature bowtie, big heart, and tenacious spirit, Donald embodied the very best of public service," Murphy said in a statement. "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."

  • "Deeply saddened by the passing of Congressman Donald Payne Jr., a good friend, highly effective public servant and compassionate leader," House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a post on X.
  • Payne's father also represented the district and also died in office, the Washington Post reports. Former Rep. Donald Payne Sr., New Jersey's first Black representative in Congress, represented the district from 1989 until his death in 2012. His son won the primary election to replace him.
  • In office, Payne focused on expanding access to health care and sponsored legislation in 2021 to promote screening for colorectal cancer, Politico reports. He was the ranking member on the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.
  • Under state law, the governor can schedule a special primary election and a special election to replace Payne, but it could be too late for the special primary to be scheduled for June 4, the state's primary date, NBC reports. Payne had been running unopposed in the primary in a heavily Democratic district.
  • Payne is survived by his wife, Beatrice, and their triplets. With his death, there are now 217 Republicans and 212 Democrats in the House.
(More Congress stories.)

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