Longtime Democratic US Rep. Donald Payne Jr. dies at 65 following heart attack

Officials say U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. of New Jersey has died after a heart attack this month that left him hospitalized.

Naomi Yané

Apr 24, 2024, 4:35 PM

Updated 31 days ago


Six-term Rep. Donald Payne Jr. died at the age of 65 after suffering a heart attack earlier this month.
The tributes from friends and colleagues poured in as he was remembered as a great public servant and a champion for the people of New Jersey.
The Democrat comes from a legacy of public service - and he carried that on, serving as the representative for New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District; a seat held by his father, Rep. Donald Payne Sr. until his death in 2012. Long before his time in Congress, the Newark native served as an Essex County freeholder and a councilman for the city of Newark, a city he loved deeply.
Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo wasn’t just a colleague in government, but a friend to the Payne family. He recalls the adoration the congressman had for his hometown.
"He never forgot his roots in Newark. He loved the city of Newark and he wanted to make sure that the people were being helped. I used to get a call from him once a week where all he used to talk about was to make sure that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” DiVincenzo said.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who worked alongside Donald Payne Jr in Newark’s City Council, said in part in a statement, “…Representative Payne had leadership and love for Newark in his DNA… All Newarkers mourn the loss of this great, compassionate man today. I mourn the loss of a stalwart friend and ally.”
Sen. Cory Booker also sent condolences and reiterated Payne’s devotion to the city.
“… he was a dear friend and a powerful colleague in Newark and in Washington. He was never about adulation or applause; the cause of his life was fighting for dignity, security, and opportunity for all people. A lifelong Newarker, he never forgot where he came from or the people he represented,” Booker wrote.
The congressman was also a known champion for stronger schools, safer streets, affordable health care, and reliable transportation.
Gov. Phil Murphy also remembered the congressman and friend saying in part, “It was my great honor to work side-by-side with Donald to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey, and we will hold his memory close to our hearts as we build upon the Payne family’s deep legacy of service in advocating for the communities they served so dearly."
DiVincenzo added, "Donald Jr. was following his father’s legacy and he made sure that legacy was continued, and he did an outstanding job.
Flags at Newark City Hall and the Essex County Government Complex have been lowered to half-mast in honor of the congressman.
Payne's survivors include his wife, Beatrice, and their three children. Funeral details were not yet released.
Murphy's office did not elaborate Wednesday on the governor's plans to order a special election to fill the rest of Payne's current term, which ends Jan. 3, 2025.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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