Bob Menendez confirms he won’t seek reelection as Democrat, dangles independent run

Bob Menendez
Bob Menendez won't run as a Democrat, but might pursue reelection for New Jersey's Senate seat as an Independent.
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Scandal-plagued Sen. Bob Menendez left the door open to running as an independent — after The Post reported he wouldn’t attempt to defend his seat as a Democrat this year.

Menendez (D-NJ) is facing 18 federal counts over a bribery scheme and had until March 25 to come up with the necessary 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot.

“Unfortunately, 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 that have already made it the cornerstone of their campaign,” Menendez said in a video posted to YouTube.

“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,” Menendez added.

The Post reported earlier this month that Menendez would not seek reelection as a Democrat.

Sen. Bob Menendez kept the door open to a run as an independent. AP
Sen. Bob Menendez kept the door open to a run as an independent. AP

Should he vie as an independent, Menendez will have until June 4 and only need 800 signatures to make his way onto the ballot. At the moment, there are three independent senators, all of whom caucus with Democrats.

Already the race among Democrats to replace him is heating up with Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) and first lady Tammy Murphy jockeying for the party nod.

Rep. Andy Kim has scored a number of key wins in his quest for the Democratic nomination and has an advantage in some early polling. Kevin R. Wexler / NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK
Rep. Andy Kim has scored a number of key wins in his quest for the Democratic nomination and has an advantage in some early polling. Kevin R. Wexler / NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK
New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy has struggled in her battle against Rep. Andy Kim for the Democratic nod. AP
New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy has struggled in her battle against Rep. Andy Kim for the Democratic nod. AP

The Democratic primary for Menendez’s Senate seat is set for June 4.

Mendenez has served in the Senate since 2006. He famously managed to win reelection in 2018 after getting off on a separate slate of bribery charges back in 2017 due to a hung jury.

His trial for the 18 federal counts is set to commence on May 6.

The senator stands accused, alongside his wife, of accepting bribes that included more than $150,000 in gold bars, $566,000 in cash payments, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, and other lavish gifts — to assist businessmen Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes, all of whom are also charged in the case.

Prosecutors allege that Uribe bribed Menendez to entice the senator to “pressure” the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to favorably resolve a criminal prosecution of one of his associates.

They also allege that he acting as a foreign agent on behalf of the Egyptian government.

Menendez was the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee but stepped down after the indictment was lodged against him.

Sen. Bob Menendez has bristled at calls for his resignation. Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock
Sen. Bob Menendez has bristled at calls for his resignation. Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

He has stood up to a chorus of calls for his resignation, including from Sen. John Fetterman (D-Penn.)

“As I’ve said, the Senate has certain standards and Menendez fell way below it. We’re deeply disappointed in him,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NJ) told reporters, dodging a question about why he hasn’t moved to expel him.

“I know many of you are hurt and disappointed in me with the accusations I’m facing believe me. I am disappointed at the false accusations as well. All I can ask of you is to withhold judgment until justice takes place,” Menendez added.

Sparse polling has pegged Menendez down demonstrably in light of the federal charges against him, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

Menendez’s term expires in January.