Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-South Orange) will not seek re-election to the State Assembly seat she’s held since 2007, becoming the 15th member of the New Jersey Legislature to give up their seats in advance of this year’s midterm election and the 10th to retire from the legislature entirely.
Jasey had commitments of support for re-election after redistricting moved her political base, South Orange and Maplewood, from a wealthy but safe Democratic suburban district that included Livingston and Millburn in Essex and extended to Madison and Harding in Morris, into the urban, but still hugely Democratic, 28th district that provides for Irvington and parts of Newark.
But Jasey, who takes care of her 97-year-old mother, has decided sixteen years in Trenton and eight on the school board was enough.
Jasey’s successor is expected to be from Maplewood, which has become a massive contributor to Democratic pluralities in Essex County in recent years, largely a result of enormous voter turnout. It’s also likely that Essex Democrats will support a Black candidate in the legislative district with the largest Black population in the state.
Possible candidates include: Maplewood Township Committeewoman Jamaine Cripe; former Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee; Deputy Essex County Clerk Garnet Hall; and former Maplewood Township Committeewoman India Larrier. South Orange Village Trustees Bobby Brown, a former NFL wide receiver who played for Notre Dame and the Cleveland Browns, and Summer Jones could also emerge as potential Assembly contenders.
If Maplewood gets the open Assembly seat, it would be the first time the Essex municipality had a legislator since Assemblyman Mario Genova (R-Maplewood), the vice president of IBEW Local 430, lost his bid for re-election to a second term in 1965.
The new 28th is represented by State Sen. Renee Burgess (D-Irvington), who won a special election convention last year after longtime State Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark) resigned for health reasons, and Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Newark).
Tucker, 79, had expressed interest in the Senate seat, but party leader instead went with Burgess. She is considered a likely candidate for re-election to a ninth term this year, but that could change in advance of the March 27 filing deadline. Either way, that Assembly seat would remain in Newark.
The 71-year-old chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, Jasey was first elected in a 2007 special election convention to replace Assemblyman Mims Hackett (D-Orange), who resigned after his arrest on bribery charges. She has won the seat eight times.
POLITICO first reported Jasey’s pending retirement, which the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.