LINDEN – Newark Council President and Essex County Freeholder Donald Payne Jr. skipped a 10th Congressional District candidates’ forum event in Linden last night. So did Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith.
State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Montclair) and Newark West Ward Councilman Ronald C. Rice had the floor to themselves at the event sponsored by the Linden and Roselle Democratic committees, which attracted a crowd of about 70 people.
Freeholder Chris Hudak, who is the Linden Democratic Committee Chairman, told PolitickerNJ.com that Payne and Smith had both confirmed that they would attend the forum and speculated that the candidates must have had other commitments.
The four candidates will face each other in an open primary in Union County next month to help determine who will win the Democratic Party’s nomination represent New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District in Washington, D.C.
This promises to be the most competitive race the district has seen in years. Rep. Donald Payne, Sr., who passed away in March, served in Congress for 23 years and had not been seriously challenged since his initial election.
Payne is running on the party line in Essex County, where his cousin is the Democratic party chairman. Last week, he picked up the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Gill has the party line in Hudson County and the support of state Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City).
Rice has support from a number of public officials, including two of his fellow Newark city council members, Union County Freeholder Mohamed Jalloh, and former Gov. Richard Codey.
In Union County, the 10th Congressional District includes Hillside, Linden, Rahway, Roselle, Roselle Park, and part of Union Township. It also includes part of Hudson County and a large portion of Essex County.
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