Donald M. Payne (Born July 16, 1934) is a politician from the state of New Jersey, representing the state's 10th Congressional district (map) in the U.S. House of Representatives which emcompasses most of the city of Newark, parts of Jersey City and Elizabeth, and suburban towns in Essex and Union counties.
Payne was born in Newark, New Jersey and did his undergraduate studies at Seton Hall University. After graduating from Seton Hall he pursued post-graduate studies in Springfield College in Massachusetts. Before being elected to Congress in 1988, Payne served in the Newark Municipal Council, was on the Essex County Board of Freeholders, was an executive at Prudential Financial, was Vice President of Urban Data Systems Inc., and was a teacher in the Newark public school system.
Payne ran against Congressman Peter Rodino in the 1980 and 1986 Democratic primaries but lost both times. Rodino retired in 1988 and Payne easily won his seat in the House of Representatives to become New Jersey's first and currently only African-American member of Congress. Since his election to Congress he has won all 9 successive elections without much challenge. In 2002 Payne ran against no Republican opponent gaining 84.5f the vote, winning the highest margin of the vote than in any other New Jersey Congressional race. In the 2004 Congressional race the Republicans again had no candidate on the ballot and Payne easily won, with 97f the vote, against Green Party candidate Toy-Ling Washington and Socialist Workers Party candidate Sara J. Lobman.
Payne's voting record is considered to be the most consistently liberal of all other New Jersey Congressmen. He is pro-choice and against the death penalty. He is a member, and former chair, of the Congressional Black Caucus and was chosen in 2002 by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the Democratic Steering Committee. The Democratic Steering Committee chooses which House Committees each individual Democratic Congressmen will serve on and also plays a crucial part in shaping the Democratic legislative agenda. In international issues Payne has been active in issues relating to Africa, particularly that of the current conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan. In June 22, 2001 Payne was arrested after protesting against the Sudanese government at Sudan's Embassy in Washington, D.C. He is an endorser of the Genocide Intervention Network.
Payne's brother, William D. Payne, serves in the New Jersey General Assembly representing the 29th legislative district of New Jersey. Payne's nephew, Craig A. Stanley, also serves in the General Assembly representing the 28th legislative district.
Committee assignments U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce U.S House Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations U.S House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness U.S. House Committee on International Relations U.S House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations (Ranking minority member) U.S House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere