June 7, 10:20 a.m.: This article has been updated with a statement from Frank McGehee; June 7, 6:55 p.m., this article has been updated with a statement from Garnet Hall.
Cleopatra Tucker, incumbent, and Garnet Hall won two seats in the Democratic primary to represent New Jersey’s 28th Legislative District in the New Jersey Assembly on Tuesday. The two defeated former Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee by a roughly 2-1 margin.
As of 10:30 p.m., the Essex County Clerk Election website showed the unofficial results, with 125 out of 130 districts reporting (see below).
Republican Joy Freeman and Willie S. Jetti won two seats in the Republican primary. However, since the district is heavily Democratic, the Democratic primary winners are considered likely to win the general election in November.
South Orange and Maplewood are newly drawn into the 28th NJ legislative district, after having spent decades in the 27th district that included West Orange and other Essex suburbs. The new 28th represents South Orange, Maplewood, Irvington, Hillside (in Union County) and the South and West Wards of Newark.
Tucker and Hall had been endorsed by the Democratic party in both Essex and Union counties. Tucker currently holds one of the two 28th district seats, first taking office in 2008. McGehee was not an endorsed candidate for the primary.
“The primary races are for Democratic and Republican nominations to run in November’s big general election for all 120 seats in the Legislature, the body in Trenton that crafts the state’s laws and passes the state budget,” according to NJ.com.
Village Green reached out to both campaigns for comment; we received a statement from McGehee’s campaign on Wednesday morning:
Thank you to everyone who supported my candidacy for Assemblyperson. This campaign was about preserving and protecting our democracy and educating you the voters about an electoral and ballot process in New Jersey which is broken.
I am very proud of our grassroots effort and how we ran our campaign. Thank you to our diverse group of neighbors, business leaders, academics, political and media strategists, creatives, community activists, Civil Rights Leaders, Columbia High School students, CHS alum and elected officials who were part of our amazing team.
We sought out to give voters a choice and while we didn’t win the entire district, we won Maplewood and South Orange. In this Primary Election, we earned the most votes in both towns and by a large margin. We are proud of this accomplishment because not only did we beat Line A in Maplewood and South Orange, we sent a clear message that party line politics is antiquated, undemocratic and needs reform. We made a difference in our community.
I want to thank everyone across all five municipalities in our new legislative district of Irvington, Hillside, Newark, South Orange and Maplewood who voted. I also want to congratulate Garnet Hall and Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker and wish them the best for the General Election.
Over the last three months I’ve enjoyed meeting and interacting with voters throughout our district. From literally knocking on hundreds of doors, we know that all of our elected leaders carry a great responsibility to adequately address a wide range of issues that are most critical for you – whether it’s landlord reform to ensure healthy and safe housing in Irvington to infrastructure in Newark to school funding in SOMA or protecting progressive values in Hillside to name a few.
I am hopeful that even more voters and candidates across our great district will become even more involved in our political process going forward so that together we can create long-lasting change.
We received a statement from Hall’s campaign on Wednesday evening:
I am humbled and honored beyond measure to have been elected by the voters of the 28th Legislative District to stand for election to the General Assembly this November.
Receiving the endorsement of the Essex County Democratic Committee, an organization in which I have been actively involved for nearly two decades was gratifying, but our campaign was in every sense grassroots, boots on the ground effort to earn the support of our voters.
My running mate Cleopatra Tucker and I spent tremendous amounts of time in every one of our five communities, knocking on doors, attending gatherings, and assuring residents that they will all receive the passionate and effective representation to which they are entitled.
I observed from the beginning that much will be required to effectively address the divergent needs and concerns of this unique district. Should I enjoy success in November’s general election, my commitment to accomplishing this will be unwavering.
The strong support that Assemblywoman Tucker and I received, in a contested Democratic primary from the residents of Maplewood, South Orange, the West and South Wards of Newark, and Hillside was heartwarming.
I am profoundly grateful to all those who worked tirelessly to support my candidacy in ways large and small, and all who expressed their confidence in me with their vote.
Dean Dafis and Vic DeLuca, both incumbents, also secured spots on the ballot for Maplewood Township Committee.