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Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Timberlake endorses Payne for Congress

Rising star Essex assemblywoman takes a pass on Oakley, her former short-term staffer

By David Wildstein, May 18 2022 6:47 am

Continuing the avalanche of bad news for mountebank candidate Imani Oakley, her former boss has endorsed her opponent in the Democratic congressional primary in New Jersey’s 10th district.

Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake (D-East Orange), perhaps the most progressive member of the New Jersey Legislature, is backing Rep. Donald Payne (D-Newark) for re-election in the June 7 Democratic primary.

“Congressman Payne has proven over and over again that we can count on him to stand up for Essex County and all of his constituents,” said Timberlake, 36-year-old rising star.   “As a champion for working families, he’s shown that he’s a leader who will never stop fighting to provide more opportunities for advancement, like bringing more high-quality jobs to our state and standing with labor unions in the struggle for higher wages, better benefits and safer workplaces.

Oakley served as Timberlake’s deputy chief of staff for about three months in 2019.  Another ex-employer, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, has also endorsed Payne. Oakley worked for briefly for Booker before taking a job with Timberlake; she then spent several months working at New Jersey Working Families.

Timberlake and Booker are not alone.  None of Oakley’s former co-workers have signed on in support of her primary challenge to Payne, who has maintained a largely progressive voting record since his election to Congress in 2012.

“I know that Congressman Payne will continue to get the job done for us and I’m excited to support him,” Timberlake said.

In addition to Booker and Timberlake, Payne has also scored endorsement from Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark), Rep. Mikie Sherill (D-Montclair), Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.

Akil Khalfani, a sociology professor at Essex County College, is also seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 10th district.

“I’m grateful to Assemblywoman Timberlake for her support, because she’s one of our state’s most dynamic young elected officials and part of a new generation of leadership for Essex County and our state,” Payne stated.  “We need more young women with real records of accomplishment like Assemblywoman Timberlake in office who know what it means to juggle work, family and public service, because that is the kind of struggle that so many of our constituents face every day.”

Timberlake is a former Essex County Freeholder who won a 2018 special election to fill the 34th district Assembly seat Oliver vacated to become lieutenant governor.

Legislative redistricting has created an opportunity for Timberlake.  The incumbent state senator in the 34th, Nia Gill (D-Montclair), has been moved to the 27th and faces an uphill primary fight with 13-term incumbent Richard Codey (D-Roseland), a former governor.  With an open seat, Timberlake is now the front-runner to move up to the Senate next year.

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