The death of Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., means that his 10th District seat will remain vacant until Republican Gov. Chris Christie designates a date for an election to fill the void. The election will most likely coincide with the November general election.
State law says that in the case of a congressional vacancy the governor may "designate the next general election day for the election." Using history as a guide, it's most likely that the election will take place in November, as during the past 45 years, special congressional elections in the Garden State have taken place during the month.
Most recently, when then-Rep. Robert Menendez was appointed to the Senate in December of 2005 to fill the remainder of Jon Corzine's Senate term, Albio Sires was elected to fill Menendez's seat in November of 2006 and took office later that month.
The New Jersey primary is June 5th, and a special primary could also coincide with the regularly scheduled primary.
Democrats are at virtually no risk of losing control of the Newark-based 10th District, which President Obama won with 87 percent of the vote in 2008. Payne was on course to face Newark City Councilman Ron Rice in a Democratic primary. Payne's son, Newark Council President Donald Payne Jr., is also expected to seriously consider a campaign to succeed his father.