Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) skated on public corruption charges this year, but the verdict New Jersey voters render in November may have a different outcome.
Menendez “is forcing his party to spend big on him as he struggles to fend off a Republican challenger,” Fox News reported on Thursday:
Bob Hugin, a former U.S. Marine and pharmaceutical executive, has cut Menendez’s lead to a mere 6 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week. Back in March, when the race began, Hugin trailed by 17 points and it appeared as if Menendez was on his way to an easy victory.
Hugin attacked Menendez over the weekend, saying that if he hadn’t decided to run, Menendez would likely have been re-elected without facing any real opposition.
“My wife and I were just offended that Bob Menendez was going to be reelected without any real opposition. He’s had 35 years of being involved in corruption,” Hugin said during an interview with New York’s WNYM-AM radio, according to the Hill.
Hugin is putting his money where his mouth is, and that has Menendez scrambling.
The retired pharmaceutical executive has already loaned his campaign $15 million. As a result, he has a significant cash-on-hand advantage over Menendez.
According to the most recent Federal Election Commission reports, the Hugin campaign had more than $8 million cash-on-hand as of June 30, $2 million more than the $6 million cash-on-hand the Menendez campaign had on the same date.
Menendez has been plummeting in the polls.
His healthy 17-point lead over Hugin earlier in the year has plunged to only 6 points in the most recent poll.
Democrats in New Jersey, fed up with the details of the public corruption charges that the Department of Justice decided to drop in January after a mistrial in November, are abandoning him at an alarming rate.
In the Democrat primary in June, 40 percent of Democrats chose an unknown opponent with no money over the tainted incumbent.
On Tuesday, prominent New Jersey Democrat James Fozman endorsed Hugin over Menendez, as Brick Shorebeat reported:
A Democratic Brick Township council member broke ranks Monday to endorse a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, amid a close race that has placed a once sure-fire – but scandal-ridden – candidate up against a GOP newcomer.
Councilman James Fozman appeared Monday with Bob Hugin, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, at Mantoloking Bridge County Park in Brick to endorse Hugin over Democratic rival U.S. Sen. Bob Mendendez.
Hugin, a Republican in solid-blue New Jersey, is mounting a serious challenge to incumbent Menendez, following Menendez’s federal trial in which a hung jury could not decide whether to convict him on charges of accepting bribes from a Florida eye doctor and using his influence to obtain visas to traffic women from the Dominican Republic to the United States.
“I’m endorsing him to restore the honesty and integrity to the office,” said Fozman, a popular councilman who previously served as council president in Brick. “We strongly believe in protecting our environment on issues like solar and wind, and opposing offshore drilling.”
Republicans are gleeful about Menendez’s troubles.
“The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is spending $117,000 on ads over the coming weeks to support embattled Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J) against Republican businessman Bob Hugin, even as Democrats hope to pick up seats in red states such as Texas,” The Washington Free Beacon reported Monday:
“With the DSCC and outside groups having to spend big in expensive states like New Jersey and Florida, it’s no surprise red state Dems are acting like it’s the Hunger Games for Chuck’s money,” NRSC communications director Katie Martin said. “Every dime and second spent trying to defend a corrupt politician like Bob Menendez in New Jersey means resources aren’t going to states President Trump carried by double digits.”
New Jersey voters have not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate in more than four decades.
Bob Hugin thinks there is a good chance that will change on November 6.