He was considered the front-runner in the tenth congressional district primary race and last night Donald Payne Jr. walked away a winner.
Not long after Donald Payne, Jr. defeated five other candidates in the race to succeed his late father, twelve-term Congressman Donald Payne, Sr., crowds gathered around the ballroom entrance to show their support.
Throughout the campaign, Payne emphasized he was the best person to fulfill his father’s legacy, a sentiment that was echoed during his victory speech.
“Believe me, I’m not Donald Payne. Those are big shoes and people have asked about filling those shoes. Well, I wouldn’t try to kid you about filling those shoes” he said. ” But I’m standing on his shoulders. I understand what he wanted for this community, I understand what he wanted for this state and I understand what he wanted for this world.
The Newark City Council president had at least 60 percent of the vote in the race. Tom Moran, Editorial Page Editor at The Star-Ledger says there were no surprises in this election and support from the Essex County Democratic Party was key. “Everybody knew from that start that the Essex County Democratic organization was going to dominate this thing. They have an army of people that get out and turn out the vote,” said Moran.
Among the supporters, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo said Payne’s father was looking on from heaven. “This is a young man that’s going to be on the move and your father is looking at you Donald and saying ‘great job’”
Voters in the tenth district were also asked to choose a candidate to fill the late Congressman Payne’s unexpired term which lasts from November to January . Payne won that special election while also becoming the nominee for the full two-year term.
And in this heavily Democratic district, analysts insist a win in the primaries is a guaranteed victory in the November election. But Moran says Payne will have to overcome some challenges .
Said Moran, “the sad fact is he doesn’t know federal issues well at all, we quizzed him on a broad range of them and he was reduced to saying ‘I’ll ask my father’s staff and I’ll learn this stuff.’ He’s going to have to sit down and sort of pull a Sarah Palin sit-down with index cards and learn these issues.”
Payne sees his pedigree as an advantage, saying “I’ve been following his path for quite some time and never found it to be a problem. I don’t mind that I’m Donald Payne, Jr. he’s opened many doors for me and this is just another door that he’s opened for me and then I have to go and prove myself to the people.”
In November, Payne will face Republican Brian Kelemen. Payne is in Washington D.C. today, handling family matters. He is scheduled to return to New Jersey by the end of this week, when work will begin for the upcoming election.
Reporting from Newark, Lauren Wanko has the full story.