by MAX PIZARRO
Sen. Ron Rice said Monday it's his understanding that veteran Assemblyman William Payne would not be filing to run in the 29th district Democratic Party primary, but would instead be running as an independent in the general election come November.
Payne has not returned phone calls last week or today amid rumors that he would not be running as a Democrat.
The Assemblyman had hoped to run for State Sen. (and former Newark Mayor) Sharpe James' seat with backing from the Democratic Party. He was stunned last month to learn the Essex County Democratic Party and Newark Mayor Cory Booker were endorsing a new and young team consisting of (State Senate candidate) Teresa Ruiz, and Assembly candidates Grace Spencer and Albert Coutinho.
Payne voiced his frustration with the party, to which he said he has long been loyal. He admitted he was deeply wounded that party officials would back un-elected and un-tested candidates over himself, a 74-year old Legislative veteran.