Two Pakistani American women candidates made history to stage impressive victories in the primaries for New Jersey State Assembly on June 8.
Former Montgomery Mayor Dr. Sadaf Jaffer staged an expected and historic victory in the Assembly District 16. The Pakistani American youthful politician and incumbent Roy Freiman defeated the third candidate and Princeton University lecturer Faris Zwirahn late on Tuesday night. Two members are elected from each of New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts for a term of two years. Jaffer received 5,902 votes or 43.44% with 81.32% of the results in. She was declared a winner.
In Assembly District 37, another Pakistani American, Shama Haider staged an impressive victory in a four-way race for the two assembly seats for the district. Haider received 6,965 votes or 36.27% of the total votes. Ellen Park, a Korean American was the other winner from the district who secured 7,122 votes. District 37 results are unique in many ways.
If elected this November, Jaffer and Haider will make history. They will become the firstever two Pakistani American and Muslim women to reach the New Jersey legislature. Both Jaffer and Haider earned high profile endorsements of their candidacies. Among those who endorsed them included New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
Haider is a former secretary to Pakistan’s former first lady late Begum Nusrat Bhutto. She was the spouse of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and mother of Benazir Bhutto, who also served as the prime minister of Pakistan. After she immigrated to the US, Haider became more active in local politics and over the years developed an impressive public service record.
Dr Jaffer also has a distinguisheed academic and political career. She identifies herself as an educator and actvist. She has the distinction of being the first Muslim and Pakistani mayor of an Ameerican town. In January of 2019, she became the first South Asian woman to serve as mayor of a municipality in New Jersey, and the first Muslim woman to serve as mayor of a municipality in the United States.
New Jersey is a heavily Democratic state. A victory in primaries is usually considered an easy victory in november elections. Both houses, the state Senate and Assembly, are currently controlled by Democrats. Each of the state’s 40 legislative districts have one senator and two Assembly members.