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U.S. Representative Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ). (Photo: Official photo, United States House of Representatives / U.S. Government)
Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Published: 29 April 2024

Rep. Donald Payne Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, has died at the age of 65, according to Gov. Phil Murphy.

Payne had been hospitalized since early April after suffering “a cardiac episode based on complications from his diabetes,” according to a statement released last week by his office. The statement further noted that Payne was receiving treatment at a local hospital. According to the New Jersey Globe, Payne was unconscious and on a ventilator after suffering a heart attack on April 6.

“With his signature bowtie, big heart, and tenacious spirit, Donald embodied the very best of public service,” Murphy wrote in a statement on Wednesday. House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, expressed their condolences and offered prayers to Payne’s family and friends. Jeffries described him as a “highly effective public servant and compassionate leader.”

Payne was running for reelection in New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District. He was first elected to the House in 2012, following his late father, Rep. Donald Payne Sr., who died of colon cancer. Payne ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman Steven Horsford (D-Nevada) and members of the CBC issued the following statement regarding Payne’s death.

“Today, the Congressional Black Caucus mourns the loss of our dear colleague and friend, Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr., and we are holding his family and loved ones in our hearts during this difficult time,” the statement read.

“Representative Payne served the people of New Jersey and our country honorably for six terms in the U.S. Congress. He was an advocate for racial justice, equal rights for all, reproductive freedom, free college tuition, and public transportation. He was also a fierce proponent of improving the lives of working families, expanding voting rights, lowering the costs of prescription drugs, and combating the climate crisis.

“Representative Payne was an effective leader in Congress having served as the ranking member and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, as well as the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.

“Prior to joining the Congress in 2012, Representative Payne, in the footsteps of his father Rep. Donald Payne Sr., dedicated his life to serving his community as a member of the New Jersey City Council, as a president of the South Ward Young Democrats, as a Garden State Parkway toll collector and for the Essex County Educational Services Commission.

“Representative Payne will be remembered by all those who knew him for his kindness and generosity. He leaves behind a legacy and commitment to service that New Jerseyans and our country will not soon forget.”

He is survived by his wife and three children.

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