A former Republican governor of Hawaii and a Democratic congresswoman from Essex County joined were among those who lauded the life of Candy Straight, a longtime advocate of electing women to public office, who died on Sunday at age 73.
Linda Lingle, Hawaii’s governor from 2002 to 2010, called Straight “a truly good person.”
“She was a real help to me in my campaigns and was so gracious whenever I was in New York City, always making time to meet with me,” Lingle told the New Jersey Globe.
Straight was also saluted by Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), who represents her hometown of Bloomfield in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Candy Straight’s tireless work as a trailblazer for women in New Jersey politics has undoubtedly left a lasting impact on generations of women and that impact will ripple out for generations to come,” said Sherrill. “We will remain committed to Candy’s work and will build on it to ensure that women’s voices are heard and represented. Her voice and her mentorship of countless women will be sorely missed.”
Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Mendham) called Straight “a remarkable woman who cleared the path for women in politics with complete selflessness.”
Gov. Phil Murphy again praised Straight during his Monday afternoon briefing, citing First Lady Tammy Murphy’s friendship with her.
“Candy and her late Mom was especially good to Tammy, personally, and to both of us when we planted our flag in New Jersey to raise our family,” Murphy said. “Early on, she became an instant friend.”
John J. Farmer, Jr., the director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, called Straight a “fierce champion of Rutgers” during her time on the university’s Board of Governors.
“During a critical time, when political leaders of both parties threatened to dismember the university, Candy was a strong voice in Trenton for the need for a preeminent statewide research university,” said Farmer, a former state attorney general.
Farmer said that “Candy believed in the Republican Party, but she wasn’t interested in party purity.”
“She maintained relationships, personal and professional, with people across the political spectrum,” she said. “She was committed to a better democracy and the often difficult but always necessary task of working across parties and between people to make our democracy function for everyone. Most of all, she believed that women’s increased participation in American democracy was a key to strengthening it.”
In a joint statement from the Eagleton Institute of Politics and the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), Straight’s “unceasing commitment to the brightest ideals of government and democracy” earned plaudits from a group that praised her “unfailing vision of a politics of mutual respect, comity, and the hard work of compromise in service of improving people’s lives.”
“Candy was a champion for women’s voices and was constantly engaged in the work of bringing women into the political process,” the groups said.
The CAWP director said Straight was “someone I could always turn to for advice.”
“Her insight and keen understanding of politics was unmatched and invaluable as we shaped new programs and research,” Walsh said. “Up to her last days, she was talking about the future for women in politics, looking for solutions, looking for ways to expand women’s influence in the Republican Party, and searching for strategies to support moderate women. It was a lifetime commitment in the most sincere sense of the word.”
Funeral services will be private, and a celebration of her life will be held next month.
Donations can be made in her honor to the Candace L. Straight Legacy Fund at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Please mail checks to the Rutgers University Foundation, PO Box 193, New Brunswick, NJ 08903-0193, or click HERE.