Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake (D-East Orange) has filed paperwork with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission for a State Senate campaign in the 34th district, a long-expected development in a tumultuous year for Essex County politics. Assuming she wins the primary and general elections, which she is heavily favored to do, Timberlake will likely be the Senate’s new most progressive member, as well as its youngest at 37 years old.
Timberlake did not immediately return a 10:43 a.m. call.
A former Essex County Freeholder, Timberlake was first elected to the Assembly at a 2018 special election convention to replace Sheila Oliver, who had recently ascended to the lieutenant governor’s office. Since then, she has established herself as one of New Jersey’s leftmost legislators and a close ally of state Democratic chairman LeRoy Jones.
During last year’s legislative redistricting process, Timberlake’s 34th district – along with most other Essex County based districts – was significantly reshaped. Both of her running mates, State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Montclair) and Assemblyman Tom Giblin (D-Montclair), were put in the neighboring 27th district instead, while 28th district Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Nutley) was moved into the 34th.
That meant the 34th district was left with an open Senate seat – a seat that has had Timberlake’s name on it since the moment the map was publicly released just over one year ago. But unlike Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City), who announced his own bid for an empty Senate seat the same day the map was approved, Timberlake has kept quiet about her own deliberations.
(Gill, meanwhile, was forced into an incumbent-on-incumbent primary against State Sen./former Gov. Richard Codey (D-Roseland), who is the favorite to win the Democratic line for re-election.)
Timberlake’s presumptive departure means that there will now be an open Assembly seat in the 34th district, which includes East Orange as well as Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Nutley, and Orange. Bloomfield, which is one of the largest municipalities in the state without a hometown legislator, is likely to get a spot on the ticket this year.