Democrat Launches Primary Challenge against Bob Menendez amid Bribery Indictment Scandal

Democrat Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) has announced that he is launching a primary challenge for the Senate seat of embattled Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

Kim announced the move on Saturday amid the scandal surrounding Menendez’s indictment on multiple federal bribery charges.

The congressman launched his campaign in the state’s Democrat primary ahead of the 2024 election.

Kim is among a growing chorus of Democrats calling for Menendez to resign over the alleged corruption.

Kim announced his campaign in a post on Twitter/X, writing:

“After calls to resign, Senator Menendez said ‘I am not going anywhere.’

“As a result, I feel compelled to run against him.

“Not something I expected to do, but NJ deserves better.

“We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity.”

The account’s bio was also updated to read:

“Running to represent New Jersey in the United States Senate.

“Dad to two troublemakers.

“Whether you vote for me or not, I work for you.”

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Menendez was charged through an unsealed indictment Friday in the Southern District of New York.

He is accused of allegedly agreeing to use his official position to benefit New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes and Egypt’s government in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes.

The indictment also charges Menendez’s wife, Nadine, and the three businessmen in the years-long bribery scheme.

Federal prosecutors said the bribes included gold bars, cash, and a luxury convertible.

So far, Menendez has refused to resign his seat and insists he will run for re-election in 2024.

However, he stepped down from his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Friday, as Senate Democratic Caucus rules require any members charged with a felony to abandon committee chair roles.

Besides Kim, other members of New Jersey’s House delegation have called for Menendez to step down.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) issued a statement commending Menendez for being a “critical voice and a tough fighter for Jersey, with a strong record that includes gun safety, protecting our environment and a woman’s right to chooser and fighting racism and antisemitism.”

“That said, given the gravity of the allegations, I believe it will be difficult for the Senator to carry out his responsibilities,” Gottheimer added.

“For the good of the state, he should step aside as he focuses on his defense.”

New Jersey’s Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy also called for him to step down.

Murphy would be able to appoint someone to serve the remainder of Menendez’s term if the senator resigns.

The governor condemned the allegations against Menendez as “serious charges that implicate national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system.”

Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), subject to his own controversy over the Senate’s lax dress code, appeared to be the first Democrat senator to call for Menendez’s resignation Saturday.

“Senator Menendez should resign,” Fetterman wrote on X.

“He’s entitled to the presumption of innocence, but he cannot continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations.

“I hope he chooses an honorable exit and focuses on his trial.”

Menendez faced a federal corruption indictment in 2015.

However, that case ended in a mistrial in 2017 but he was never cleared of the charges.

In 2018, the Senate Ethics Committee said he broke federal law and rules of the upper chamber in accepting unreported gifts from a friend and political ally.

He still won reelection later that year.

Kim has served in Congress since 2019 and previously served as an adviser for the Obama administration.

He had advocated against anti-Asian hate following the pandemic and went viral online following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol after a photo surfaced of him cleaning up debris strewn across the Rotunda afterward.

Menendez so far has one other challenger in the 2024 Democrat primary.

Kyle Jasey, a real estate lender and the son of Democrat New Jersey Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, filed to run for a 2024 U.S. Senate campaign in August.

READ MORE: ‘Gold Bar Bob’ Menendez Responds to Bribery Indictment Backlash, Blames Racism

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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