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Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., right, and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. (Photo: Office of Rep. Payne).

Baraka backs Payne for re-election to Congress

South Ward residents stick together, with Payne also backing Baraka for a third as mayor

By David Wildstein, February 15 2022 9:48 am

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has endorsed Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-Newark) for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives in New Jersey’s 10th district.

Payne and Baraka are both longtime South Ward residents and served together on the Newark City Council when Payne held an at-large seat and Baraka was representing the South Ward.

Congressman Payne was born in Newark, raised in Newark, and has spent his career fighting for Newark residents – nobody understands our community the way he does,” Baraka stated. “When we faced a public health crisis with thousands of lead pipes that had to be removed to protect our residents, Congressman Payne stepped up immediately with federal funding to get the project started. That’s the kind of leadership we need from our representatives in Washington, and it’s why I’m proud to stand with Congressman Payne.”

Longtime friends, the relationship between the Paynes and the Barakas runs deep.  Their fathers were central players in Newark for decades: poet Amiri Baraka was an activist who fought for fair housing and school integration; Donald M. Payne, Sr. was an Essex County Freeholder, Newark City Councilman, and the first Black congressman from New Jersey.

The endorsement was mutual.  Payne is supporting Baraka for re-election to a third term as Newark mayor in the May non-partisan municipal election.

“The City of Newark is incredibly fortunate to have a leader like Mayor Baraka at the helm, because he’s fully committed to both revitalizing the community and protecting what makes it such a truly unique and special place,” said Payne.  “There’s nowhere else I would want to live than the South Ward of Newark, and no one I would rather have at my side than Mayor Baraka.”

Payne, who won a 2012 House election following the death of his father, faces two Democratic primary opponents: Akil Khalfani, an Essex County College Sociology professor; and  Imani Oakley, a mountebank vagabond who is challenging Payne in the June Democratic primary.

The 10th is one of the most solidly Democratic districts in the nation.  Congressional redistricting keeps the 10th as one of the most Democratic House districts in the nation, and a primary win is tantamount to election there.  The new map adds Caldwell, Essex Fells and Cranford to the district.

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