U.S. Rep. Donald Payne dead at 65 after complications from a heart attack


U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D-10), who with in his sixth term in the House and was poised to be elected to a seventh, died today at 65 years old after complications from a heart attack he suffered earlier this month.

U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. Photo via paynejr4congress.com.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“With his signature bowtie, big heart, and tenacious spirit, Donald embodied the very best of public service. 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,” Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said in a statement.

“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.”

Payne, who was first elected to Congress in a special election in 2012 to fill the seat his father held, is survived by his wife Beatrice, and their three children, Donald III, Jack, and Yvonne, the governor added.

The veteran federal lawmaker had been in the hospital since he suffered a heart attack on April 6th and had been placed on a ventilator at the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

On April 17th, his office released a statement indicating that the “cardiac episode” was brought on by his diabetes, and while the called his condition stable at the time, they asked for thoughts and prayers.

“Today, he is in stable condition at a local hospital & continues to be under doctor’s care. While we hope for a full recovery, we ask everyone to keep him in your prayers.”

A fellow member of the New Jersey congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9), was quick to pay tribute to his close friend.

“I am anguished and devastated by the passing of my close friend, Don Payne. This is a terrible loss for his family and all of us who admired him every day. Like his father, Donald gave his entire life to the people of Newark. I cannot think of any member at any time who embodied the compassion, kindness, honesty, big heart, and humble demeanor central to public service more than Donald,” he said in a statement.

“He led the way for rail transportation and men’s health in the Capitol and was a beloved member of our state’s congressional delegation, always thinking about everybody else but himself. Donald will be tremendously missed and he brought peace and comfort to the Congress in everything he did. Sometimes leaders come and go but that is not the case here. We have lost Donald far too soon but the Payne name will live on in Newark and North Jersey forever. May God bless Don Payne and his family.”

Another colleague, U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez (D-8), also offered his condolences.

“Congressman Payne was a dedicated public servant who fought tirelessly for the city, county, state, and country that he loved,” he began.

“Throughout his tenure in Congress, he demonstrated compassion, integrity, and an unwavering dedication to improving the lives of others. It was a privilege to serve alongside of him, and I will always carry his advocacy and friendship with me as we strive on to continue the work, he was so passionate about – advancing justice, equality, and opportunity for all Americans.”

Payne was running unopposed in the June 4th primary in one of the bluest districts in the country, comprised of parts of Hudson, Essex, and Union Counties, such as parts of Jersey City and Newark.

His Republican challenger, Carmen Bucco, was quick to comment him for his service in Washington, D.C.

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Congressman Donald Payne Jr. Regardless of our political differences, we recognize his contributions to serving the people of New Jersey’s 10th District. His dedication to public service and commitment to our state will be remembered,” he said.

“The Congressman left this world too soon, and I know he is in a better place. I will be praying for Congressman Payne’s family, friends, staff and all those who knew him, and I encourage you to do the same.”

The New Jersey Globe reports that the approximately 1,084 Democratic committee members in the 10th District will nominate Payne’s successor, with a statutory deadline of August 29th, though Murphy could also call for a special election to fill his unexpired term.

They subsequently floated Jersey City Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley and Hudson County Commissioner Jerry Walker (D-3) as potential candidates.

Furthermore, Hudson County Executive Craig Guy remembered Payne fondly, noting that he had been working him and his office recently.

” … On a personal note, soon after I became county executive I met with Rep. Payne and constituents to bolster efforts to combat escalating gun violence. Donald was a tireless advocate for voting rights, the pillar of our democracy,” he stated.

“In the House of Representatives, he was chosen by his colleagues to lead speeches in favor of expanding voting rights and fighting against voter disenfranchisement efforts. Donald also played a vital role in standing up for minority- and women-owned businesses in Congress. As Rail subcommittee chairman, Donald was a leading voice in guaranteeing minority business participation for federal passenger rail construction projects.”

At 2:16 p.m., Payne’s office provided some additional details on his passing.

“[He] experienced a physical accident at home on April 6, 2024, which necessitated hospitalization. During his treatment for this health issue, he faced medical complications due to diabetes and high blood pressure that led to subsequent cardiorespiratory arrest,” they said in a statement.

“Despite the dedicated efforts of the medical staff to treat him and improve his health, they were unable to prevent his passing unfortunately. Congressman Payne, Jr.’s passing comes 12 years after his father, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr., died in office on March 6, 2012.”


Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from U.S. Rep. Donald Payne’s office.

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/hcvcp/public_html/wp-content/themes/Hudson County View/includes/wp_booster/td_block.php on line 353