TRENTON – In a district where the only real challenge is a primary challenge, U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ10) has a challenge.
It comes in the form of Newark Councilman Ronald C. Rice, the young ally of Mayor Cory Booker, who is preparing a run at the Brick City congressional seat.
A senior campaign advisor told PolitickerNJ that Rice is just beginning to build his campaign infrastructure and declined to comment on the record.
Family ties are notable in this Essex County faceoff. Rice serves on the council with Payne’s son, Council President Donald Payne Jr.; and Rice’s father, Ronald L. Rice, is a rogue state senator who has successfully challenged the Essex Democratic organization on several occasions.
The 77-year-old Congressional incumbent has been elected nine times without much, if any, resistance. Payne also served on the Newark City Council years ago, and made two unsuccessful runs at U.S. Rep. Peter Rodino before finally being elected as the first African American in New Jersey’s congressional delegation after Rodino’s retirement. Payne is a ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs’ subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, having long taken interest in war-torn Rwanda and Sudan.
The Seton Hall law schooled Rice is a second-generation representative of the West Ward in Newark. He ran on Booker’s losing ticket in 2002, and the mayor’s winning slate in 2006 and 2010.