Donald M. Payne Jr., Five-Term New Jersey Representative, Dies at 65

Representative Donald M. Payne Jr., a five-term Democrat from Newark who succeeded his father, New Jersey’s first Black member of Congress, died on Wednesday in Newark. He was 65.

He had been hospitalized in Newark and unconscious since April 6, when he sustained a heart attack resulting from complications of diabetes, according to his office. His death was announced by Gov. Phil Murphy.

In 1988, Donald Payne Sr. fulfilled a dream he had publicly proclaimed 14 years earlier: being elected to the House as the first Black member of his state’s congressional delegation. He succeeded Peter W. Rodino Jr., whom he had unsuccessfully challenged earlier and who had retired.

In 2012, shortly after Mr. Payne died at 77, Donald Payne Jr. won a special election to fill the remainder of his term. He then survived a contentious six-way primary to win the Democratic nomination to represent the 10th District, which includes parts of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties, for a full two-year term beginning in January 2013.

The younger Mr. Payne was known for helping to secure $900 million in a federal allocation for the Gateway tunnel project under the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York, and for his support of lead testing in school water systems to prevent cancer and other ailments, a measure that passed the House and later the Senate. He also pressed for improved emergency responses to hurricanes and other natural disasters and proposed a neighborhood gun buyback program to improve public safety.

When the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives, before the 2022 election, he was chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials and the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery.

Back to top button