Twenty prominent labor leaders will help boost the campaign coffers of Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-Newark) on Friday as sponsors of a virtual fundraiser with a $5,000 ticket price, a move that could limit the viability of challengers in the June Democratic primary.
The host committee includes former Communications Workers of America state director Hetty Rosenstein and her successor Fran Ehret, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees state director Steve Tully, Laborers International Union of North America vice president and eastern regional manager Raymond Pocino, 32 BJ Service Employees International Union state director Kevin Brown, New Jersey AFL-CIO president Charles Wowkanech, and New Jersey Building & Construction Trades Council president Bill Mullen.
Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller, the president of the New Jersey Education Association, is also on the committee, along with Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin (D-Montclair), the business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 68. Part of Montclair is in New Jersey’s 10th district.
Newark Teachers Union president John Abeigon, and Donna Chiera, the New Jersey president of the America Federation of Teachers, are also raising money for Payne. So are Eddie Donnelly, the president of the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association, Monmouth and Ocean Counties Central Labor Union president Wyatt Earp, and Teamsters International vice president Fred Potter.
Also on Payne’s fundraising committee: Bryan Bush and Joseph Denmark of the sheet metal workers; Robert Critchley of the roofers; Richard Malcolm, the president of the Union County Building and Construction Traded Council; Charles Hall of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store union; and Harvey
Whille of the United Food and Commercial Workers.
Payne faces two challengers in the Democratic primary: Essex County College sociology professor Akil Khalfani, and Imani Oakley, who has had several jobs over the last few years.
The six-term congressman holds one of the most Democratic seats in the nation and has easily dispatched multiple primary challenges since his first election in 2012. Payne won 91% in 2014, 92% in 2018 and 83% 88% in 2020.