Menendez Might Run Anyway

Indicted senator confirms he won't run in primary, but could still run as an independent later
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2024 4:25 PM CDT
Updated Mar 22, 2024 12:30 AM CDT
An Independent Run Has Advantages for Menendez
Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife, Nadine, leave Manhattan federal court on Monday.   (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)
UPDATE Mar 22, 2024 12:30 AM CDT

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez on Thursday confirmed he won't run in the Democratic primary in June, but he continued to leave open the possibility of running for reelection as an "independent Democrat," the AP reports. "The present accusations I am facing, of which I am innocent and will prove so, will not allow me to have that type of dialogue and debate with political opponents," he said in a video posted on social media. "You deserve to hear from those who wish to represent you about what they would do for you and your families in the future. Therefore I will not file for the Democratic party this June." He added, per CNN, "I am hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election."

Mar 14, 2024 4:25 PM CDT

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, who faces federal trial on corruption charges in May, may yet seek reelection—as an independent. The New Jersey senator is consulting allies and preparing to gather signatures to place his name on the November ballot, NBC News reports. He'd need fewer signatures and have more time to gather them if he ran as an independent instead of as a Democrat. Asked Thursday if that's his plan, Menendez said only: "I don't have to declare what I am doing. When I do, everybody will know."

He'd face competition in the June 4 Democratic primary if he stuck with his party. US Rep. Andy Kim and Tammy Murphy, whose husband, Phil, is New Jersey's governor, have filed. Kim said that entering the race as an independent would be an example of Menendez putting what's good for him ahead of what's good for the country. "There is no way that he can win this seat," Kim told NBC. "But what he could do is jeopardize this seat and give Republicans a chance." Murphy did not immediately comment on the report.

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Another Democratic senator, who's endorsed Kim, was not impressed by the possibility. Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman dared Menendez to run. "If that sleaze ball wants to pull 7%, go right ahead. And that's going to be strange trying to campaign while you're in your trial." If Menendez is on the ballot, he can fundraise and use the money to pay the legal bills from his prosecution—similar to Donald Trump's strategy. (More Bob Menendez stories.)

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