Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo says he will back Donald Payne for re-election to an 11th term in Congress next year.
Some Democrats say that 74-year-old Payne could face a challenge in the 2008 primary after his refusal to support the Democratic nominee for State Senate in Newark's 29th district this year.
Payne supported his brother, Assemblyman William Payne, who ran unsuccessfully as an Independent candidate for Senate against the party choice, Teresa Ruiz. Ruiz works for DiVincenzo and has the backing of power broker Steve Adubato and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
"I am supporting Donald Payne 100%," said DiVincenzo. "One election has nothing to do with the other election. First of all, he's been a great congressman. He's also supported me. I support him, our county chairman supports him."
"He still feels the same way," said Phil Alagia, DiVincenzo's chief of staff. "Nothing has changed."
In an interview with PolitickerNJ.com last June, Booker refused to commit to backing Payne for re-election.