Rep. Donald Payne (D)
New Jersey 10th District
Newark was once the heart of New Jersey. All of the main transportation arteries led there, and its corporate headquarters buildings were the tallest in the state. In 1930, 442,000 people lived in Newark, 1 of every 9 in New Jersey. Newark fell on hard times in the latter half of the 20th century. The city was plagued by terrible schools and high crime. Whole sections of the city were dominated by criminals and deserted by most law-abiding residents. By the year 2000, there were just 273,000 people left in Newark, representing 1 in every 30. In recent years, Newark has been attempting a turnaround. Population was up to 280,000 in 2007; new office buildings have joined the Prudential and Public Service Electric & Gas headquarters, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center has been a big hit for city-dwellers seeking a less expensive experience than Manhattan. There are new restaurants and trendy bars, and a new downtown arena houses the hockey team the Devils. An assortment of condominium projects are on the drawing board. Crime rates have declined, the state has taken over the schools, and life is returning to deserted streets. The young and charismatic mayor, Democrat Cory Booker, brought energy to the city and has declared war on street gangs.
2008 Presidential Vote
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There has been industrial development around Newark Airport. The glass and aluminum facility has been greatly expanded for international carriers and is prospering as a hub for Continental, the most thriving of the legacy airlines. Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal is the largest container port on the East Coast and ranks nationally behind only Los Angeles and Long Beach. Old warehouses there have been cleared for more-modern facilities. The question is whether the city’s finances will stabilize and Newark can become once again the vital center of New Jersey. Mayor Booker’s friendship with President Obama certainly won’t hurt.
The 10th Congressional District of New Jersey is centered in Essex County and is made up of most of Newark—the Central, South, and West wards—plus Irvington, most of the Oranges, and part of Montclair to the west. It also takes in much of Elizabeth, Rahway, and Linden to the south. Its boundary lines wiggle around to include African-Americans in Jersey City, Montclair, and Elizabeth, while leaving Hispanics in the next-door 13th District. Overall the district is 57% black and is by far the most Democratic district in New Jersey. Obama won Essex County 76%-24%, and the district 87%-13%.
Rep. Donald Payne (D)
Elected: 1988, 11th term.
Born: July 16, 1934, Newark .
Education: Seton Hall, B.A. 1957.
Family: Widowed; 3 children.
Elected office: Essex Cnty. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders, 1972–78, Dir. 1977–78; Newark Municipal Cncl., 1982–89.
Professional Career: Elem. & high schl. teacher, 1957–64; Exec., Prudential Insurance Co., 1964–72; Pres., YMCAs of the U.S., 1970; V.P., Urban Data Systems Inc., 1975–88.
The congressman from the 10th District is Donald Payne, a Democrat first elected in 1988 and the first African-American to represent a New Jersey district in Congress. He grew up in a working-class section of Newark. His mother died when he was just 7, and Payne stayed with his grandmother while his father worked long shifts on the docks. A community organization dedicated to children and teens in tough neighborhoods helped him win a college scholarship, and Payne became a high school history teacher and football coach. He was later the community liaison for Newark-based Prudential. In the 1970s, Payne was elected to the Essex Board of Chosen Freeholders. In 1980 and 1986, he ran against Democratic U.S. Rep. Peter Rodino, who was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when it voted to impeach President Richard Nixon. Payne lost, even as an African-American in a district with a black majority. But when Rodino retired in 1988, Payne, at age 54, won 73% of the vote in the Democratic primary and easily won the general election. He has not faced a serious re-election challenge since.
|Donald Payne (D)||169,945||(99%)||($502,611)|
|Donald Payne (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (100%), 2004 (97%), 2002 (84%), 2000 (88%), 1998 (84%), 1996 (84%), 1994 (76%), 1992 (78%), 1990 (81%), 1988 (77%)
Payne has a strongly liberal voting record. He served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1995 and 1996, just as Republicans were taking control of Congress. He successfully lobbied the new majority to keep the Africa Subcommittee on the Foreign Relations Committee. Active in issues related to Africa, Payne sponsored a resolution to cut off new investment in Sudan because of its practice of slavery. In July 2004, the House passed his resolution condemning the war in Sudan as “genocide.” In 2006, Payne helped to negotiate a bipartisan deal in the House to expand presidential authority to promote peace and accountability in Darfur, and he joined a delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Darfur and elsewhere in Africa.
Payne agitates for increased foreign aid for United Nations peacekeeping operations, and likes to point out that the more than 700 million people of Africa receive less aid from the United States than do the 6 million of Israel. In 2003, President George W. Bush named Payne as one of two congressional delegates to the United Nations. Payne also came to the defense of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in December 2004, when Republicans called for his resignation amid allegations concerning corruption in the Iraq oil-for-food program
He was one of 22 House members who voted “present” on the March 2003 resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, calling the war “ill-conceived” and one that “could have been avoided through diplomacy.” In the majority, Payne chairs the expanded Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health. In October 2007, the House passed his Ethiopian Democracy and Accountability Act, which condemned Ethiopia’s human-rights record and raised the option of sanctions against the country. He also joined with Republican Rep. John Boozman of Arkansas to get more U.S. assistance to African countries fighting malaria.