Payne undecided on Assembly run, content for now with Obama victory

Former lawmaker Bill Payne doesn’t know if he’s going to run for his old seat in the Assembly next year against Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (D-Newark), but he appears less inclined to make a move than he was this past summer.

Payne’s longtime friend, state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark), told PolitickerNJ.com that he would urge the retired legislator not to pursue a run against Spencer.

“I’m supporting the re-election of every member of the Legislative Black Caucus,” said Rice, including the Mayor Cory Booker-backed Spencer, who won Payne’s South Ward-based seat in last year’s election.

“Assemblywoman Spencer is a good legislator, she’s a lawyer, she’s intelligent and she’s effective,” Rice added.

Payne gave up the Assembly seat last year to pursue an off-the-line run for the Dist. 29senate seat abandoned by Sharpe James.

He lost to state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark).

Now the older brother of U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D-Newark), remains euphoric over the victory of President-elect Barack Obama, and said he feels awed by the arc of history, which allowed him to work with the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and see this day arrive when an African-American can be president.

“There are a lot of things that need to be followed up on, issues of interest, including racial profiling, issues that I took on as my own, but I don’t know that I need to be in the legislature to address them,” said Payne. “It’s too early to tell. I don’t know. If, in fact, the Democratic Party feels we’re getting good leadership now, the younger generation should pick up the baton and run with it. I think being in public office is really a gift from God and should be utilized as such.”