With eleven days until the midterm congressional elections, the Cook Political Report on Friday re-categorized New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez’s race for reelection to the Senate from “Leans Democratic” to “Toss-Up.”
Despite running in deep-blue New Jersey, Menendez has faced a tough challenge from Republican Bob Hugin, a former pharmaceutical company CEO.
“The biggest threat to Menendez’s re-election is not so much Hugin than it is the voter who goes to the polls and decides to send Menendez a message, much the way many did in the primary when 38 percent voted for his unknown primary opponent,” Cook Senate analyst Jennifer Duffy wrote. “There is certainly a thumb on the scale for Menendez, who is said to have a lead of between four and six points, in this very blue state, but the race is close enough to warrant a move to Toss Up.”
The Democratic senator has been plagued by a corruption scandal since 2015, when he was indicted on charges of taking bribes and committing fraud by accepting compensation from a friend in exchange for political influence. The charges were later dropped.
Hugin has highlighted what he says is his opponent’s “record of corruption,” adding that the Democrat has also been “ineffective” in the Senate. Meanwhile, in their one debate, Menendez characterized Hugin as a “greedy health-care CEO” who is beholden to President Trump.
Hugin has spent $27.5 million of his own money on his campaign, dwarfing the money spent by Menendez’s campaign and outside Democratic groups
Democrats face an uphill battle in their race to retake the Senate, which Republicans hold by a tight 51 to 49 margin.