After the death of Rep. Donald Payne Sr. in March, several Democrats have expressed interest in running to represent the 10th congressional district. Donald Payne Jr., Ron Rice and Nia Gill have all decided to run for the vacancy. Sen. Nia Gill sat down with NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider to discuss her reason for running and why she’s the best candidate for the position.
Gill called her decision a “necessary run” because there are no women in Congress from her congressional delegation, there hasn’t been a Democratic woman in Congress in New Jersey in nearly 40 years and there has never been an African-American woman elected to Congress from the Garden State.
Gill blamed the party system for the lack of women elected to represent New Jersey in Congress. She said the power bosses are involved in the primary, which tends to decide the outcome of the general election since many areas are heavily Democratic or heavily Republican. “Women rarely are able to get the support that they need in order to be a successful candidate in the primary,” she said.
Gill said she’s run both with and without party support in the past and has won. She said her experience and her causes makes her the best candidate for Congress. “If you look at my record, I’ve been in the forefront in the state on the things that the late Congressman Payne did on the national scene,” she said, citing a needle exchange bill and a tough human trafficking bill.
Raising money is a challenge, Gill said, not only for her but for all the candidates. She said she can win the primary. “I’ve done it before. I ran off the line. I won,” she said. “There’s a party structure and then there are the people and I go straight to the people understanding that the party structure is there, but I will not let it dictate my access and my involvement with the community to whom I am ultimately responsible.”