Timberlake endorses Payne for Congress
Continuing the avalanche of bad news for street performer candidate Imani Oakley, her former boss backed her opponent in the Democratic congressional primary in New Jersey’s 10th District.
Congresswoman Britnee Timberlake (D-East Orange), perhaps the most progressive member of the New Jersey Legislative Assembly, is backing Rep. Donald Payne (D-Newark) for re-election in the June 7 Democratic primary.
“Congressman Payne has proven time and time again that we can count on him to stand up for Essex County and all of its constituents,” said 36-year-old rising star Timberlake. “As a champion for working families, he has shown that he is a leader who will never stop fighting to provide more opportunities for advancement, like bringing more high-quality jobs to our state and stand with unions in the fight for higher wages, better benefits and safer workplaces.
Oakley served as Timberlake’s deputy chief of staff for about three months in 2019. Another former employer, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, also endorsed Payne. Oakley worked briefly for Booker before taking a job at Timberlake; she then spent several months working at New Jersey Working Families.
Timberlake and Booker are not alone. None of Oakley’s former colleagues have signed on to back his main challenge to Payne, who has maintained a largely progressive voting record since being elected to Congress in 2012.
“I know Congressman Payne will continue to do the work for us and I’m thrilled to support him,” Timberlake said.
In addition to Booker and Timberlake, Payne also won the endorsement of Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark), Rep. Mikie Sherill (D-Montclair), Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.
Akil Khalfani, a sociology professor at Essex County College, is also seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 10th District.
“I am grateful to Assemblywoman Timberlake for her support as she is one of our state’s most dynamic young elected officials and part of a new generation of leaders for Essex County and our state,” said Payne said. “We need more young women with real accomplishments like MP Timberlake in power, who know what it’s like to juggle work, family and public service because that’s the kind of struggle that so many of our constituents face every day.”
Timberlake is a former Essex County freeholder who won a special election in 2018 to fill the 34th District Assembly seat that Oliver vacated to become lieutenant governor.
The legislative redistribution created an opportunity for Timberlake. Incumbent 34th state senator Nia Gill (D-Montclair) moved to the 27th and faces a tough primary fight with 13-term incumbent Richard Codey (D-Roseland), a former governor. With one seat vacant, Timberlake is now the frontrunner to run for the Senate next year.