JERSEY CITY AND BAYONNE – In a release issued late on Friday, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez endorsed Donald Payne, Jr. for Congress in a hotly contested 10th congressional district that includes a large portion of Jersey City and Bayonne, praising Payne’s strength of character and his experience.
Already seen as the power behind the Payne for Congress movement that has won endorsements from other powerful political people in Hudson County, including Jersey City Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop, Menendez enthusiastically endorsed Payne to fill the seat vacated by Payne’s father’s death earlier this year.
This move comes at a time when Hudson County is already split between candidates that include Newark Councilman Ronald Rice Jr., who is also seeking this seat, and State Sen. Nia Gill, who is backed by the Hudson County Democratic Organization.
Menendez’s move puts him at odds also with powerful Union County state Senator Ray Lesniak, who is reportedly behind the Gill for Congress movement.
“Donald has the skill, the passion and the commitment to make a difference in Congress,” Menendez said. “Whether it is working on innovative public/private partnerships to create jobs, helping young people get the skills they need to compete in the job market or working with Planned Parenthood to provide affordable women’s health care, Donald Payne, Jr. lives up to his slogan: The guy who gets things done.”
Menendez noted that he rarely endorses in special elections, but he explained, ”The stakes in Washington are higher than ever. While the extreme Republicans in Congress look to turn the clock back on families, on women and on seniors, Donald Payne, Jr. will be an unwavering advocate for the people he presents. Donald has the strength of character and the experience to stand up to the House Republicans and their Tea Party allies.”
Menendez said he had worked with Payne’s father in the past
“I was proud to work with Congressman Payne and to call him a friend. His passing leaves us all poorer. While I have enormous respect for all three candidates, I am strongly endorsing Donald Payne, Jr. to carry on the work of Congressman Payne, not because he is his son, but because he has the skills and the vision to carry on that record of outstanding public service,” Menendez said.