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New Jersey Congressman Donald Payne Jr. dies

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New Jersey Congressman Donald Payne has died, just a week after his office released a brief statement confirming he had suffered a “cardiac episode.” He was 65.

The death of the six-term Democrat was made public following a statement released by Gov. Phil Murphy, who described the late congressman as a “friend.”

“Tammy and I are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of our friend, and a steadfast champion for the people of New Jersey, Congressman Donald Payne, Jr.” Murphy’s statement said.

Murphy touched on Payne’s background that eventually led him to the halls of Congress.

Murphy said, “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. 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.”

New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries wrote on social media, “Deeply saddened by the passing of Congressman Donald Payne Jr., a good friend, highly effective public servant and compassionate leader.”

On Wednesday of last week, Payne’s office released a brief statement on the congressman’s health, noting at the time, he was in stable condition under the watchful eyes of medical care.

It read, “Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr. suffered a cardiac episode based on complications from his diabetes last week. Today, he is in stable condition at a local hospital and continues to be under doctor’s care. While we hope for a full recovery, we ask everyone to keep him in your prayers.”

Payne represented the state’s 10th Congressional District, which included portions of Essex, Hudson and Union counties, and was a native of Newark. He was first elected to Congress in 2012. He succeeded his father, Donald Payne Sr., who also died while serving in office. The elder Payne was first elected in 1989.