Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-Newark), one of two Black Members of Congress from New Jersey, is praising the likely ascendancy of Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) to the senate presidency.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Senator Scutari for years and found him to be a dedicated public servant, thoughtful and open to new ideas, “said Payne, who represents parts of Union County in the U.S. House of Representatives. “He has been an effective leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I believe his years of service representing Union County have really helped to prepare him to be a good leader of the state Senate.”
Payne’s support of Scutari follows calls from Black and Latino clergy and activists – and a newspaper editorial board run by a white male – to pick a woman of color to serve as the next Senate President.
Scutari faces Nia Gill (D-Montclair) in a race for Senate President on Friday. A New Jersey Globe tally gives Scutari the votes of 7 of the 10 people of color who serve in the State Senate.
Payne’s congressional district also includes parts of Gill’s legislative district, including East Orange and a portion of Montclair.
In 2012, following the death of popular Rep. Donald Payne, Sr. (D-Newark), Gill and Payne competed as par of a six-candidate field who sought the 10th district House seat in the Democratic primary. Payne defeated Newark City Councilman Ronald C. Rice by a 60%-19% margin, with Gill finishing third with 17% of the vote.
“I strongly believe the challenges New Jersey will face in the future are best managed by a leadership team that embraces New Jersey’s diversity, and I am pleased that Nick has taken steps to make that happen.,” I look forward to continuing to work with him, Governor (Phil) Murphy, Lt. Gov. (Sheila) Oliver, and Speaker (Craig) Coughlin to move New Jersey forward.”
Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) is slated to become the first Latina to serve as Senate Minority Leader. She has no announced opposition in her bid to succeed Loretta Weinberg, who did not seek re-election this year.
Three other senators of color are set to become part of Scutari’s leadership team: Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City) is expected to follow Ruiz as Senate President Pro-Tempore, Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) will retain his post as Senate Majority Conference Leader, and Nellie Pou (D-North Haledon) is slated to become the Democratic Caucus Chair.