Dead man running: Deceased congressman wins election in New Jersey

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Many elections are marked by reports of dead people voting, but a dead person being elected is far less common. Yet that’s exactly what happened Tuesday when Rep. Donald Payne Jr. won a primary in New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District.

The beloved congressman and member of the Congressional Black Caucus suffered a fatal heart attack April 24, according to the New York Post. 

The filing deadline for primary campaigns in New Jersey was in March. Congressman Payne was the only candidate to register.


Rep Donald Payne, Jr., D-N.J., co-chair of the Colorectal Cancer Caucus, speaks at the Fight Colorectal Cancer “United in Blue” flag installation on the National Mall to spotlight the rise in young adult colorectal cancer cases March 12, 2024, in Washington, D.C.  (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fight Colorectal Cancer)

It isn’t surprising Payne Jr. was not challenged in the primary. He had held the seat since 2012, and his father occupied it for 20 years prior to that. Payne Jr. succeeded his father when the elder Payne also died in office.


The Garden State’s election rules dictate that Payne cannot be replaced on the ballot. Instead, a special primary election will be held July 16. Nearly a dozen Democrats have already made it known to party leaders that they intend to vie for the seat. 

New Jersey’s 10th district is one of the bluest in the country, with a whopping 6-1 Democratic registration advantage. It includes Newark and other urban areas of Hudson, Union and Essex counties and hasn’t been represented by a Republican since 1946.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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