New Jersey rep. announces challenge to unseat Menendez following indictment

Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) announced Saturday that he will primary Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) after the senator was indicted on corruption charges Friday.

“After calls to resign, Senator Menendez said ‘I am not going anywhere.’ As a result, I feel compelled to run against him,” Kim said on X, formerly Twitter. “Not something I expected to do, but NJ deserves better.”

Kim was the second member of Congress and first from New Jersey to call on Menendez to resign Friday. A growing list of Democrats, headlined by Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), have asked Menendez to step down.

“I believe more than ever that New Jersey needs hard working, trustworthy leaders focused on the common good and injecting some integrity and civility back into our politics,” Kim wrote in his announcement, sharing a link to his donations page. “We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity any longer. 

“Help me build a movement to restore faith in our democracy,” he added.

Prosecutors allege that Menendez and his wife accepted over $600,000 in bribes from a group of New Jersey businessmen to help them and interests in Egypt. 

“These allegations are serious and alarming. It doesn’t matter what your job title is or your politics — no one in America is above the law,” Kim said in a statement to The Hill on Friday. “The people of New Jersey absolutely need to know the truth of what happened, and I hope the judicial system works thoroughly and quickly to bring this truth to light.”

The Hill has reached out to Kim’s office and campaign for comment.

Menendez has denied the charges, calling them a “smear campaign.” He was previously investigated and charged in a separate bribery probe in 2015, but that case was later dropped after a mistrial.

The senator stepped down from his chairmanship in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but said he will not resign, despite demands.

“Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty,” Menendez said in a statement late Friday. “I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I’ve had for the past five decades. This is the same record of success these very same leaders have lauded all along.”

“It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat. I am not going anywhere,” he added.

Menendez does not currently face a significant primary opponent for his 2024 reelection. 

Small-town mayor Joe Signorello had raised over $100,000 for his primary challenge against Menendez by the end of June, according to federal campaign finance reports, but announced in July that he would pursue a congressional seat instead.

Leading GOP candidate Shirley Maia-Cusick called the allegations against Menendez “unconscionable,” and called on him to resign. A second Republican challenger dubbed the senator “Gold Bar Bob.”

Updated at 4:37 p.m.

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