Dead Congressman Wins Democratic Primary
U.S. Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) seen speaking at a news conference at Newark Liberty International Airport
(Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) won the Democratic Party’s primary in New Jersey on Tuesday, a little more than a month after he died at the age of 65 following a heart attack.

The late congressman appeared as the sole House candidate for the 10th Congressional District on the primary ballot, although voters can submit a “Write-In” alternative. Carmen Bucco won the Republican primary, though he is considered a long shot in the blue district.

County officials from the Democratic Party are expected to call a convention before August and pick someone else to be their nominee for the November election after the primary results are certified on June 17, according to the New Jersey Globe.

The report noted that a special election to determine who will serve the remainder of Payne’s term is also underway. A primary in that contest is set for July 16, followed by a September 18 general election. At least a dozen people, including 11 Democrats and Bucco, are running in that race.

Payne, a six-term congressman, suffered a heart attack on April 6, resulting in hospitalization. A couple of weeks later, on April 24, officials announced Payne had died. He had been running for another two-year term in the House, and his name was already printed on ballots for the primary before his passing.


“We are saddened to be informed of the passing today of Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr., who had been serving New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District since 2012, and who succeeded his father in the same position,” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said in a post to X. “Our prayers are offered today for his family and friends, and especially his wife, Bea, and their three children.”

The congressional website for Payne’s office says, “the employees of the former Representative continue to staff the offices of the congressional district under the supervision of the Clerk of the House of Representatives” in the interim, and “constituents of the district are invited to contact this interim office for information and assistance.”

In the House, there are now 218 Republicans and 213 Democrats. Besides Payne’s old seat, three other vacancies remain after Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH), Ken Buck (R-CO), and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) resigned in recent months. This week, Vince Fong was sworn in as a GOP lawmaker to replace former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

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