New Jersey elected a dead congressman. What’s next?

Donald Payne died after the filing deadline for a replacement candidate (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Donald Payne died after the filing deadline for a replacement candidate (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

On Tuesday evening, Democratic voters in New Jersey’s 10th district elected former Rep. Donald Payne Jr. to be the nominee for the general election — despite the fact that he died in April.

It’s a strange situation but not entirely uncommon.

Payne, 65, was hospitalized on April 6 after an “accident” at home and experienced “medical complications due to diabetes and high blood pressure that led to subsequent cardiorespiratory arrest” while he was getting treatment. He died on April 24, after the filing deadline for a replacement candidate. Since he ran unopposed, he emerged victorious on Tuesday night, despite his death.

So what happens next? Governor Phil Murphy, an incumbent Democrat, announced last month that a special primary election will be held on July 18. The winners of those primary contests will advance to a special election on September 18, and the victor of that will finish up Payne’s term.

Similarly, Democratic committee members for the 10th district will select a new nominee for the November general election, the Washington Examiner reported.

So far, 11 candidates have filed for the Democratic nomination in the special election: Newark City Council President Monica McIver; former East Orange Councilwoman Brittany Claybrooks; Rutgers University law professor Eugene Mazo; Hudson County Commissioner Jerry Walker; Linden Mayor Derek Armstead; Economic Development Authority executive Darryl Godfrey; John Flora, a former congressional candidate; Shana Melius, a former staffer for Payne; Essex County College professor Sheila Montague; Alberta Gordon and Debra Salters.

One Republican, Carmen Bucco, filed to be the Republican nominee.

New Jersey’s 10th district is overwhelmingly African American and Democratic and has not voted for a Republican since 1946. The Payne family has held the seat for more than 30 years. Payne’s father, Donald Milford Payne, first won the seat in 1989.

In 2012, the elder Payne died and his son ran for the seat, easily winning.

New Jersey held its primary elections on Tuesday evening. In addition to the Payne race, Democratic Representative Andy Kim won the primary to replace Senator Bob Menendez, who was indicted on corruption charges. Menendez for his part, filed to run as an independent in the November election after numerous colleagues called for his resignation.