Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Sen. Bob Menendez has enough signatures to run as an independent despite his bribery trial

By 37ci3 May30,2024

WASHINGTON – Impeached Sen. Bob Menendez, DNJ, has collected the necessary signatures to seek re-election to the Senate. as independentFive people familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Menendez needs 800 signatures by June 4 to get on the ballot in November and hopes to reach about 10,000 by that date, according to three sources familiar with his plans.

One of the sources, who used to work for Menendez, said Sen is currently in court on federal bribery chargeswants the number of signatures to be a “statement” in itself, “to still show the level of support for it.”

Menendez’s office did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

If successful, Menendez would likely face Democratic Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey — widely regarded as the front-runner in the race to replace him — and a Republican. The primary will be held on June 4, where Patricia Campos-Medina and several Republicans will compete for the party’s nomination.

Anthony DeAngelo, Kim’s top adviser, told NBC News, “People are fed up with a broken political system that only benefits the well-off and the well-connected and fosters corruption. Voters deserve better and they will have a chance to vote for change next week and this November.”

Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, were charged with 18 counts of bribery and corruption. The powerful former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was accused by prosecutors of acting as a foreign agent and fell down from presiding over the panel while the trial against him is pending.

He has entered the third week of his federal criminal trial, which is expected to last at least until July. There is no law barring Menendez from running for federal office even if convicted, but he is running as an independent. depends on his acquittal.

NBC News previously reported that Menendez is running for his Senate seat as an independent, which would allow him to continue raising money to pay his legal bills. it cost him 2 million dollars.

Two people close to the senior senator say Menendez has “unfinished business” in Washington and doesn’t want his legacy to end with a criminal conviction. “He won’t go down without a fight,” said one of them.

Menendez can file to run as an independent at any time, but will likely wait until June 4 to submit signatures because his son, Rep. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is running for re-election in a competitive primary. nominates his candidacy. On the same day, two sources said they had direct knowledge.

The elder Menendez’s controversial bid could hamper his son’s re-election efforts, and Menendez Jr. already has targeted by attack ads related to his father’s business. That’s one of the reasons Menendez decided to run as an independent, a person with direct knowledge of his thinking said, so he and his son wouldn’t have to share the same ticket.

Another reason Menendez wants to collect more signatures than required is that he expects some signatures to be challenged. Under New Jersey state law, any voter can sign an independent petition as long as they are not signing a petition for one of the two major parties.

Despite his legal troubles, Menendez still has the support of Democrats in the upstate and central parts of the state and many Latino voters in New Jersey, according to Agustin Garcia, a longtime friend of Menendez who helped him collect signatures.

“Everyone wants it [the Latino] voted, and Bob was a pioneer in standing up for their rights,” Garcia said. “Maybe that’s what Latinos need — they need independent voices.”

Garcia, who grew up with Menendez in Union City, New Jersey, and now lives in Miami, told NBC News that he personally organized about 20 people across the state, including six Lambda Theta Phi fraternities, to collect signatures for the senator’s independent run. . brothers. He said he believed Menendez would be acquitted.

Some Democrats in Hudson, Essex and Passaic counties have also helped Menendez behind the scenes with his re-election campaign, Garcia said, having personally spoken with Democratic officials in the area. A former Menendez aide also told NBC News that Democrats across the state quietly helped Menendez win back his seat.

Allies of Menendez noted that even though Kim is the Democratic candidate for the Senate, some party leaders have not yet endorsed the three-term congressman. Who successfully challenged the state’s unusual ballot design pits all party-backed candidates on the sidelines, along with other candidates, that struck a blow to the state’s political machine earlier this year.

Joseph Barreto, founder of the SOMOS New Jersey Political Action Committee, which aims to increase Latino representation in the state and backed Campos-Medina in the primary, said many Democrats in the state still have strong ties to Menendez.

“Menendez can still use that power, he’s still got people depending on him, you know, different things, favors. He’s been around so long that God knows who’s been posted where, who’s been hired or things like that, and all this comes into play here,” he said.

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