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Newark City Council President Donald M. Payne Jr. won a six-way Democratic primary to succeed his father, New Jersey’s first and only black congressman, who died in March.
Payne, 53, took 60 percent of the vote with 95 percent of precincts counted last night, according to preliminary results from the Associated Press. The contenders included fellow Councilman Ronald C. Rice, state Senator Nia Gill of Montclair and Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith. Cathy Wright of Newark and Dennis R. Flynn also were on the ballot.
The elder Payne forged a reputation as an advocate for democracy in Africa during a 23-year career in Congress. He died March 6 from colon cancer at 77. His son was endorsed by prominent Democrats in Hudson and Essex counties.
Democrats in the 10th congressional district, which also includes parts of Union County, have a 10-to-1 edge in registered voters, making the primary often a de facto arbiter of the November outcome. There were 207,830 Democratic voters in the district to 20,739 Republicans, according to May figures from the state Division of Elections.
Rules of the House of Representatives require the elder Payne’s seat to remain empty until November, when a separate election will determine who fills the remainder of the term that expires in January. His son also won that primary bid.
The younger Payne, who also serves on the Essex County Freeholder Board, a legislative body, has been a Newark council member since 2006. The county includes the city, which is the state’s largest, Irvington and Montclair. Rice, the son of state Senator Ronald L. Rice of Newark, was second with 19 percent.
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