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Trailblazer, civil rights titan Sen. Ron Rice to retire at month’s end

Rice hall

Nikita Biryukov | August 19, 2022 | New Jersey Monitor |

Sen. Ron Rice, a civil rights titan and one of the state’s longest-serving lawmakers, will leave the Legislature at the end of August following bouts with health issues that had kept the Essex County Democrat from the Statehouse for much of the last year.

Rice, the former longtime chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, will step down on Aug. 31 from the Senate seat he’s held for 36 years, his departure bringing down one of the few rank-and-file Senate Democrats who have regularly butted heads with legislative leaders and governors of their own party.

“It is a sad day for the Legislature because they’re losing a bold, a daring, and — and I say fondly — a different kind of legislator that comes along once in a lifetime,” said Democratic State Committee Chairman LeRoy Jones, who is also Essex County’s Democratic chair.

InsiderNJ was first to report Rice’s looming retirement.

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, Rice entered the Legislature after winning a special election called in the wake of Sen. John P. Caufield’s death in 1986.

“I don’t think I’m the cure to all the problems, but I intend on being a very visible and open voice,” Rice said at his victory party that year.


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