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Politics

If Democrats Wrest Control Of US Senate, NJ's Menendez Lands Key Leadership Post

Senator Robert Menendez
Senator Robert Menendez Photo Credit: United States Senate

When the dust settles, and the fate of the U.S. Senate majority is decided, New Jersey's senior senator could land one of the top leadership posts.

But it's likely to take days -- or even weeks -- to know the outcome as Senate races in Georgia and North Carolina remained too close to call on Wednesday.

Bob Menendez, a U.S. senator since 2006, is widely considered the leading contender to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. But that's only if Democrats retake a majority of seats in the Senate -- which they lost control of six years ago.

According to Politico and other respected publications that cover Capitol Hill, Menendez is the likely choice for that key post. He's currently the senior ranking Democrat on the powerful committee.

High totals of mail-in ballots could delay the vote-counting process in some states. With Georgia’s two races expected to head to runoffs, the outcome determining a Senate majority could linger indefinitely.

Incumbent Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham easily fended off challenges in Maine and South Carolina, respectively.

Menendez has been in politics about as long as fellow Democrat Joe Biden.

Menendez' political career began in 1974 when he was 20: He was elected to the Union City School District's Board of Education. In 1986, he won the mayoral election in Union City.

In 1988, while continuing to serve as mayor, he was elected to represent the state's 33rd district in the General Assembly of New Jersey and, within three years, moved to the New Jersey State Senate, upon winning the March 1991 special election for the 33rd Senate district. 

The next year he won a seat in the Congress of the U.S. House of Representatives and represented New Jersey's 13th congressional district for six two-year terms, from 1993 to 2006. 

In January 2006, he was appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jon Corzine (who had been elected 54th Governor of New Jersey), and was elected to a full six-year term in November; he was reelected in 2012 and 2018.

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