The midterms are right around the corner, and the race in New Jersey for US Senate is heating up. Democratic incumbent Senator Bob Menendez is hoping to be reelected to his third consecutive term in the Senate, where he has been since his appointment to a one-year term by Governor Jon Corzine, following Corzine’s resignation from the Senate to take the gubernatorial job. Before joining the Senate, Mr. Menendez served in the US House of Representatives from 1993 to 2006, where he represented New Jersey’s 13th district. Senator Menendez is the top-ranking Democrat and former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He also serves on the Senate’s Finance Committee.
Menendez is a liberal, and supports abortion rights as well as alternative lifestyle choices. He supports reforming campaign finance laws, balancing the budget by reducing military spending, and the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Menendez opposes Republican plans to end or impactfully change the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and the building of a wall between the United States and Mexico. Senator Menendez is also a supporter of allowing illegal immigrants to gain US citizenship, often referred to as amnesty. One issue on which Menendez quarrels with his Democratic colleagues is foreign policy, specifically as it relates to the Middle East. The Senator opposed the Iran Deal, much to the chagrin of then-President Obama, who publicly expressed his disappointment with the Senator. Menendez has been a vocal supporter of Israel and it’s right to self-defense, and his voting record in the Senate matches his public statements (in contrast to New Jersey’s other Senator, Cory Booker). At a recent event in Lakewood, Menendez reaffirmed his commitment to Jews rights to freedom of religion and freedom from oppression.
Menendez was caught up in a case in which he was alleged to have received bribes from a Florida doctor in return for political favors. The trial ended with a hung jury. The Department of Justice later announced that they would be dropping additional charges they were to bring against the Senator.
Bob Hugin, a political newcomer, is attempting to unseat Senator Menendez as a Republican in deep-blue New Jersey. Hugin served for 14 years in the US Marine Corps before joining J.P. Morgan and then moving on to Celgene. Hugin made millions as an executive at the pharmaceutical company, reporting income of $19.5 million in 2015, and $14.3 million in 2016. He has spent over $24 million of his own money in his attempt to win election to the Senate.
Hugin is a moderate Republican, and supports some liberal agendas, such as abortion and alternative lifestyles. Hugin says he is a strong supporter of Israel, and views it as one of America’s key allies. He supports increasing national defense spending, making President Trump’s tax cuts permanent, building a wall at the US-Mexico border, and certain aspects of Obamacare. Hugin supports President Trump’s negotiations with North Korea, but opposes Obama’s restoring of relations with Cuba. Hugin specifically wants convicted New Jersey cop killer Joanne Chesimard, who found refuge in Cuba, to be deported to the US.
Senator Menendez has accused his opponent Bob Hugin of profiting off the backs of people suffering from cancer as an executive at Celgene Corp. by increasing critical drug prices, as well as thwarting the production of cheaper life-saving drugs. Mr. Menendez has also attacked Hugin as being a Trump a supporter, pointing to the fact that Hugin was a Trump at the Republican Party convention in 2016. Hugin says that he supported Trump over Hillary Clinton, but is disappointed with how Trump has behaved in office and sees himself as independent from the President.
Hugin has attacked Menendez over his inability to lower astronomical living costs in New Jersey, having been caught up in a bribery scandal for which the Senate Ethics Committee reprimanded him for, as well as more salacious allegations that have been airing recently on Hugin’s TV ads.
In an interesting twist, Hugin donated the maximum amount allowed by law to Menendez’ last Senate race, in which he beat Republican Joe Kyrillos. He is obviously not donating to him this time around.
The latest Quinnipiac poll has Menendez leading Hugin 51%-44%. The poll has Menendez at a 36%-52% favorable/unfavorable rating, and Hugin with a 39%-30% favorable/unfavorable rating.
The election will take place on November 6th.