Morris County mayor with Trump ties running for GOP nod against Sen. Menendez

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The mayor of a small suburban Morris County borough is mounting a challenge to unseat New Jersey's senior U.S. senator, Robert Menendez and, in her words, "end his career of cronyism.”

Mendham Borough Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner announced her candidacy on Monday for the Republican nomination for the Senate in the 2024 election. "New Jersey deserves better than this dark cloud of corruption that has been following Bob Menendez for a decade," she said in her announcement.

Her argument received a boost Friday when federal prosecutors announced bribery charges against Menendez and his wife. Menendez declared his innocence but fellow Democrats, including Gov. Phil Murphy, called for him to step down.

Serrano Glassner enters the race with little in the way of statewide name recognition. But she has strong ties to national GOP politics through her husband, Michael Glassner, a career political consultant who served as chief operating officer and deputy campaign manager for Donald Trump's presidential campaigns from July 2015 through November 2020.

In July, CBS News, citing unnamed sources, reported that Michael Glassner was among a group of Trump supporters creating a legal defense fund to help pay legal bills for the former president's allies and staffers. Serrano Glassner was also a delegate for Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

That gives her a potential base of support that could extend well beyond the 4,981 constituents in her borough. She joins three other Republicans already seeking the nomination.

GOP endorsements for Mendham mayor

Mendham Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner, seen in a YouTube video announcing her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2024.
Mendham Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner, seen in a YouTube video announcing her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2024.

In its announcement, the "Team Christine" campaign described the candidate as "a mother of two, and a businesswoman with years of experience forging conservative solutions for New Jersey residents and businesses." Prior to her election as mayor in 2018, Serrano Glassner held a seat on the Mendham council for two years.

She already has the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Tom Kean Jr., the Republican who represents Mendham in Congress.

“Washington D.C. is in desperate need of more leaders who put New Jersey families before politics," Kean said. "Christine Serrano Glassner is a strong leader and someone I have seen firsthand take on tough fights for her town and win.  She has my full support, and I look forward to campaigning alongside her.”

"In the last few years of working with her and becoming great friends I have witnessed firsthand how incredibly smart and resourceful she is," Morris County Committee Chairman Laura Ali said. "New Jersey and our country will be so fortunate to have her as our senator."

The Republican Senate primary field so far includes Andover resident and small-business owner Daniel Cruz, immigration attorney and self-described "Latina Mama Bear" Shirley Maia-Cusick and Clark-based attorney Gregg Mele, who ran for governor as a Libertarian candidate in 2022.

Serrano Glassner's announcement also targeted Menendez's record, including the ongoing federal investigation "by the Biden-controlled Department of Justice" for allegedly receiving undisclosed gifts. That investigation came just years after Menendez avoided a federal bribery conviction in a 2017 trial that ended with a hung jury.

Menendez responds

New Jersey US Senator Bob Menendez awaits the casket of Lt. Gov. Shelia Oliver, where she will lie in state at the Essex County Historic Courthouse in Newark, NJ on Friday Aug. 11, 2023.
New Jersey US Senator Bob Menendez awaits the casket of Lt. Gov. Shelia Oliver, where she will lie in state at the Essex County Historic Courthouse in Newark, NJ on Friday Aug. 11, 2023.

The Menendez campaign seized on the Trump connection to brand Serrano Glassner as a right-wing "MAGA" candidate.

“Here’s the thing that New Jersey’s voters will quickly learn − the mayor is a hard-core, unapologetic Trump supporter," Menendez political advisor Mike Soliman said in a statement to the Daily Record. "Even after Trump pushed an insurrection, even after he bragged about helping to end Roe v. Wade and even after he cozies up to Vladimir Putin, Mayor Serrano Glassner is all-in on Trump.  She is clearly out of touch with New Jerseyans. Bob Menendez knows New Jersey. His record of achievement and advocacy for our state is simply unmatched.”

Menendez investigation: Who's giving to senator's legal expense fund? One donor is revealed

Outside the political realm, Serrano Glassner's family also became leading advocates for sex abuse victims in North Jersey after learning that her brother, Mark, was abused by a local parish priest. Mark Serrano was the first person in the nation to break a confidentiality agreement with the Catholic Church related to a sex abuse settlement.

The Serranos were among the families who helped convince St. Joseph's Church in Mendham to erect what is believed to be the first monument to priest abuse victims on Catholic church property in America.

Her campaign announcement and an introductory YouTube video, however, focused mainly on taking Democrats to task.

“We need a fighter, someone who believes hardworking Americans matter, and who will stop Joe Biden’s failed economic policies," the announcement reads. "Someone who believes parents’ rights matter, and who will keep woke ideology out of our schools. And we need someone who will stand up to Washington D.C. and do what’s right for New Jersey."

Green Party member Christina Khalil and independent Nick Carducci have also declared their Senate campaigns.

William Westhoven is a local reporter for For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.


Twitter: @wwesthoven

This article originally appeared on Morristown Daily Record: NJ mayor Christine Serrano Glassner seeks GOP nod vs. Bob Menendez