New Jersey’s U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. dies at age 65

U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr., who was admitted to the hospital in early April following a “cardiac episode” stemming from complications tied to his diabetes, died Wednesday. He was 65.

A native of Newark, Payne (D-10th Dist.) was first elected to represent New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District in 2012, succeeding his father in the post. He also has served on the city council in Newark and as a freeholder in Essex County.

Gov. Phil Murphy said he was deeply saddened, and called Payne his friend and a steadfast champion for the people of New Jersey.

“With his signature bowtie, big heart and tenacious spirit, Donald embodied the very best of public service,” Murphy said. “As a former union worker and toll collector, he deeply understood the struggles our working families face, and he fought valiantly to serve their needs, every single day. That purpose was the light that guided him through his early years as Newark city council president and during his tenure on the Essex County board of commissioners. And it guided him still through his more than a decade of service in Congress.”

“Rep. Payne carried on his family’s legacy of leadership with distinguished service in Newark and Essex County before his election to Congress. We are grateful for that service and hope his loved ones can find comfort in this difficult time,” Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) said.