NEWARK — Congressman Donald Payne Jr. on Wednesday passionately defended his decision not to attend the inauguration of Donald Trump

The 10th Congressional district Democrat told New Jersey 101.5 he was planning on attending until Trump tweeted a response to civil right icon and U.S. Rep John Lewis after the Georgia Democrat called his presidency illegitimate and the result of a Russian conspiracy.

Trump tweeted that Lewis “should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results.”


Payne was offended by the remark and pointed out that part of Lewis' district in Atlanta has some of the most expensive homes in Georgia. Trump's response was to a stereotype, according to Payne.

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J. 12th District, was the first member of the New Jersey delegation to announce she would not be attend the inauguration and instead will attend an interfaith service at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton.

Payne said he did not speak with any other members of Congress about his decision and has not decided what he will do during the time of the inauguration.

The congressman, who ran for the seat after the death of his father in 2012, called Trump "unfit for office" but still hopes to work with Trump. But he is not willing to forget Trump's comments about Lewis and those made during the campaign. He said after the election of Barack Obama, Republicans did not give him a fair chance by declaring that declared that Obama would be a one-term president during their unity meeting in 2009

In contrast, U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J. 7th District, said that while Trump was not his first choice for president, he considers himself a student of American history and looks forward to attending a "historical event." He said he proudly went to both Obama inaugurations and would have attended if Hillary Clinton were being sworn-in.

"I'm honored to go to any inaugural ceremony. It's just an honor to be in Congress," although he is not looking forward to the predicted rain in the forecast for Friday.

Fellow Republican Tom MacArthur, of the 3rd Congressional District, said he is looking forward to attending the New Jersey State Society event and attending the inauguration with his family. He said his office received over 2,000 ticket requests and over 150 of his constituents will be at the ceremony on Friday.

State Police from the Moorestown Station will also be assisting the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department with the ceremony.

"These mutual aid partnerships make all of our agencies stronger as we lean on each other when our resources are tested, and I am confident that our troopers will proudly represent New Jersey during their assignment to contribute to the safety and success of the day," said Colonel Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the State Police, said.

In addition to the inauguration detail, the State Police Incident Management Team (NJSP-IMT) will also be deployed to Washington, D.C., in order to support local emergency response operations if necessary.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

More from New Jersey 101.5


More From New Jersey 101.5 FM