Imani Oakley, who worked briefly for U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake (D-East Orange) and for New Jersey Working Families, will take on Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-Newark) in the 2022 Democratic primary.
“New Jersey’s 10th District deserves a Representative in Congress who isn’t afraid to take on the establishment, stand up for democracy, and fight for marginalized communities,” said Oakley. “However, despite pressing issues around health, housing, and safety, we haven’t had that.”
The 31-year-old Oakley spent a year working for Booker as a constituent services representative, three months on Timberlake’s staff, and one year as legislative director at Working Families. She’s a graduate of Howard University and the Howard Law School.
“For years, I’ve been disheartened by the rabid corruption infesting our state,” stated Oakley. “From patronage, to cronyism, to New Jersey’s corrupt ballot design, I knew I had to start fighting to make a change.”
Payne, whose wardrobe mishap during a virtual meeting of the House Homeland Security Committee last month drew headlines. Won 87.6% of the vote in the 2020 Democratic primary against two challengers: Seton Hall Law Professor Eugene Mazo and teacher John Flora.
The 10th district is among the most-Democratic in the nation. Payne was re-elected to a sixth term last year with 83% of the vote.
A former Essex County Freeholder and Newark City Councilman, he won a hotly contested Democratic primary in a 2012 special election and primary following the death of his father, 12-term Rep. Donald M. Payne (D-Newark).
Payne defeated Newark City Councilman Ronald C. Rice and State Sen. Nia Hill (D-Montclair).