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The Kim campaign’s political director will seek a seat in Payne’s House

The Kim campaign’s political director will seek a seat in Payne’s House

Brittany Claybrooks, a 32-year-old former East Orange city councilwoman and political director of Andy Kim’s U.S. Senate campaign in North Jersey, will seek the Democratic nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 10th District.

That sets up a contest with Newark City Council President LaMonica McIver, who has the support of Democratic leaders and Essex County mayors for the seat held by Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. for nearly a dozen years until his death. (D-Newark). on April 24.

“I think it’s time for us to see fresh, young, new leadership, but also leadership that has been able to find a life in the public sector, where challenges mean a better outcome for people,” Claybrooks said. “I am prepared to go to Congress to fight to continue delivering at the federal level the things we need: transportation, the ability to live, work and play here in a way that matters.”

Claybrooks left the Kim campaign Monday to participate in the July 16 special primary to fill Payne’s unexpired term.

It’s not clear whether Kim will endorse Claybrooks or raise money for her, either immediately or after his own Senate primary on June 4.

Kim’s campaign manager, Noah Dion, praised Claybrooks in a statement to the New Jersey Globe.

“Brittany is a fierce advocate for her community and has been an invaluable voice in our campaign for change,” said Dion. “Her experience and dedication will contribute significantly to the conversation about the future of New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District.”

The campaign for Payne’s seat is progressing quickly. Gov. Phil Murphy ordered a special election Friday and the filing deadline is May 10. Votes by mail will be sent starting June 1, less than a month from now.

Claybrooks, who calls herself a progressive Democrat, said she is inspired by congresswomen like Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Nikema Wiliams (D-Georgia) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing ). ). She also praised Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Payne and Kim.

“I joined Andy Kim’s campaign because he was someone I believed in, and I wasn’t wrong about that,” she said. “I am deeply inspired by the movement he has created about why it is important for people like us to run for Congress. And what people are trying to tell us by electing people who are constantly standing up and challenging things and who also have a record of deliverance or delivery of resources.

After Jacqueline Johnson declined to seek re-election in 2019, Claybrooks became a candidate for the open Ward 2 seat on the East Orange City Council. She received the endorsement of Democratic State Chairman and Democratic Essex County Chairman LeRoy Jones Jr., as well as the Democratic Borough Chairman of East Orange.

Claybrooks, then 27, ran on the organizational line and won the Democratic primary by a 60%-37% margin in a three-way race.

But in 2023, after disagreements with Jones and some Democrats on local issues, Claybrooks was not offered party support for a second term.

“I showed the ability to stand up for what I believed was right,” she said. “Because I wasn’t offered the line, I think it was a blessing in disguise because I had the opportunity to go out and explore what it looked like for me to move in this government space in a way that was true to me and which was not necessary. that I would be anything less than the courageous person I was.

A former intern for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, assigned to the House Democratic Cloakroom, he worked for a nonprofit and as a planning project manager for East Orange. After her election to the council, she became director of planning in Plainfield. She has a master’s degree in urban planning.

As a candidate for Congress, Claybrooks said she recognizes that larger cities are the cornerstone of the 10th District.

“Affordable housing is important, and preserving existing housing stock is also important,” she said. “That’s what made me want to run.”

Regardless of Kim’s decision, Claybrooks says she can raise money on her own.

In a race against McIver, Claybrooks wants to run a clean campaign.

“To me, a clean campaign looks like a campaign that is fair, where the process is fair and where we discuss the issues,” Claybrooks explains. “I think it is important to keep the focus on the problems facing our district. People are looking for ways to continue to live affordably, to continue to have access to health care and child care, and people just want to be able to live their lives and their part of the American dream in a way that is prosperous for them or in a way that is prosperous for them. a way that makes their lives better.”

Darryl Godfrey, the Chief Operations Officer of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, is also expected to participate in the race.