'Champion' Menendez Won't Run In Democratic Primary, Considering Independent Bid (Video)

Embattled Senator Robert Menendez announced he will not run for re-election as a Democrat, but did not rule out running as an independent.

Sen. Bob Menendez

Sen. Bob Menendez

Photo Credit: Menendez For NJ YouTube

Menendez, who is facing numerous federal bribery charges, made the announcement in a nine-minute video on Thursday, March 21. 

Menendez, who has professed his innocence and called himself a champion for the state of New Jersey, said the charges against him make running a campaign impossible. 

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"New Jerseysians deserve better than that," Menendez said, after spending much of the video touting his accomplishments. "You deserve to hear from those who wish to represent you about what they would do for you and your families in the future." 

Menendez, who was first appointed to the senate in January 2006 and re-elected three times, said he hoped to be exonerated by the summer and pursue an independent candidacy. Menendez has rebuffed numerous calls from New Jersey leaders, including Gov. Phil Murphy, to resign.

"I know many of you are hurt and disappointed with me with the accusations I am facing," a defiant Menendez said. "I am disappointed at the false accusations as well. All I can ask of you is to withhold judgment until justice takes place."

Menendez is accused of giving secret information and military aid to Egypt in exchange for various favors. A search of Menendez and his wife's Harrison home and safe deposit box in June 2022 produced $100,000 in gold bars and $480,000 in hidden cash, according to the indictment. Nadine Menendez, the senator's wife, was also named in the indictment.

This is the second time Menendez has faced federal corruption charges. A previous trial ended in a mistrial and prosecutors declined to try the case again.

The senator's decision comes after he had done no campaigning for the Democratic nomination, like wooing party leaders for endorsements and a primary challenge would've been a longshot, given his high disapproval rating. Congressman Andy Kim (D-NJ) and Tammy Murphy, the wife of Gov. Murphy, have been locked in a heated battle for the nomination. 

New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the senate since 1972.

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