Democratic senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey fended off a challenge from Republican Bob Hugin in a tight race that, absent substantial corruption allegations against their nominee, would have certainly been an easy win for Democrats.
Menendez, a two-term incumbent, was brought up on corruption charges in 2017 after investigators exposed his ethically dubious relationship with a wealthy Florida doctor who, after being convicted for defrauding Medicare, provided him lavish gifts and vacations, in what prosecutors alleged was a ploy to gain favor with a sitting lawmaker.
Hugin, a wealthy pharmaceutical executive, poured $37 million of his personal fortune into the race but faced an uphill battle nevertheless as New Jersey hasn’t had a Republican senator since 1972.
While Menendez was not ultimately convicted for corruption, he was formally chastised by the Senate Ethics Committee for “knowingly and repeatedly accept[ing] gifts of significant value’’ and “fail[ing] to publicly disclose certain gifts as required by senate rule and federal law.’’
While many prominent Democrats, including New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, were hesitant to back Menendez, a number of voters interviewed at the polls Tuesday did not appear particularly troubled by the allegations surrounding Menendez.
“If [jurors] were OK with it, then so am I,” Madsen Roy, a 67-year-old bus driver told the New York Post when asked about Menendez’s behavior.
Hugin, a Republican delegate at the 2016 convention, likely suffered from his association with President Trump despite his insistence that he was “no Trump Republican.’’