• May 27, 2024

Menendez Drops Plans to Run as Democrat, but May Run as Independent

(Headline USA) Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said Thursday that he will not run in the Democratic primary as he faces federal corruption charges, but he left open the possibility that he would reenter the race as an independent later this year if he is exonerated at a trial.

Menendez made the announcement in a video released Thursday afternoon.

The decision comes as Menendez fights federal bribery charges, along with his wife, Nadine, and three business associates.

Menendez and his spouse are charged with taking bribes of gold bars, cash and a Mercedes-Benz in return for the senator’s help with projects pursued by three New Jersey businessmen.

In return for the haul, Menendez helped one of the men get a lucrative meat-certification deal with Egypt, taking actions favorable to the Egyptian government, according to prosecutors.

An additional indictment said Menendez helped another associate get a deal with a Qatari investment fund.

Initially, some of his Democrat colleagues in New Jersey and in the U.S. Senate put out calls for him to resign his seat, but he defiantly refused to do so, echoing previous occasions when he has beat the rap on federal felony charges.

Menendez did resign his chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but maintained his innocence throughout and insisted he would be validated and exonerated.

The calls have since quieted, prompting some to point out the hypocritical double-standared between Democrats’ reluctance to take meaningful action in holding him accountable and Republicans’ overzealousness to do so—even at considerable political cost for themselves—in the case of Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., who also was indicted on federal felony charges.

Six Democrats had entered into the Democratic primary race sensing Menendez’s vulnerability, including current Rep. Andy Kim, considered by some to be a rising Democrat star.

Six Republicans and two independent candidates have also thrown their hats into the ring.

The primaries for the two parties to select their candidates will be June 4.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press


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