Dead man running: Deceased congressman wins election in New Jersey

Many elections are marked by reports of dead people voting, but a dead person being elected is far less common. Yet that’s exactly what happened on Tuesday when Rep. Donald Payne Jr. won a primary in New Jersey’s 10th congressional district.

The beloved congressman and member of the Congressional Black Caucus suffered a fatal heart attack on April 24th, according to the NY Post. The filing deadline for primary campaigns in New Jersey was in March. Congressman Payne Jr. was the only candidate to register.


It isn’t surprising that Payne Jr. was not challenged in the primary. He had held the seat since 2012, which his father had occupied for 20 years prior to that. Payne Jr. succeeded his father when the elder Payne also died in office.

The Garden State’s election rules dictate that Payne cannot be replaced on the ballot. Instead, a special primary election will be held on July 16. Nearly a dozen Democrats have already made it known to party leaders that they intend to vie for the seat. 

New Jersey’s 10th district is one of the bluest in the country, with a whopping 6-1 Democrat registration advantage. It includes Newark and other urban areas of Hudson, Union and Essex counties and hasn’t been represented by a Republican since 1946.

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