Final month, federal prosecutors determined to not retry Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez after a prolonged corruption case in opposition to him led to mistrial.
Menendez is a free man, however remains to be going through a renewed Senate Ethics Committee investigation and is considerably at odds with extra left-leaning Democrats. It’s the sort of state of affairs that would result in a contentious major with a variety of challengers, particularly with an energized grassroots base motivated to run for workplace within the age of Trump.
However Menendez has drawn only one major challenger: activist and pundit Michael Starr Hopkins.
Hopkins mentioned the pace with which the New Jersey Democratic institution endorsed the senator following the mistrial drove him to problem the senator’s reelection bid — in addition to Menendez’s post-mistrial assertion. (“To those that have been digging my political grave so they may soar into my seat, I do know who you’re and I gained’t overlook you,” Menendez mentioned in entrance of the federal courthouse.)
Menendez had confronted authorized scrutiny over his relationship with a serious donor, a Florida ophthalmologist. Throughout the trial, former US senator Robert Torricelli (who confronted his personal scrutiny over a donor) labored behind the scenes to place himself because the successor of Menendez’s seat if he was pressured to resign from workplace. However little momentum for a problem — primarily in opposition to New Jersey’s Democratic machine — has materialized.
John Wisniewski, a former progressive candidate for governor and NJ assemblyman, mentioned there’s a slim likelihood of success for anybody seeking to problem Menendez, who’s already shored up help from Democratic energy gamers together with present governor Phil Murphy and standard New Jersey junior senator Cory Booker. The senator additionally has a hefty amount of money ($four.1 million) readily available forward of the April submitting deadline.
“Fundraising goes to be robust. We’re not going to go greenback for greenback with Menendez,” mentioned Hopkins, whose marketing campaign has raised $26,268 in accordance with Federal Election Fee information, however he hopes that New Jerseyans will join with somebody operating for workplace “who isn’t a celebration insider.”
Regardless of the short lineup behind Menendez, a ballot, performed by the Rutgers-Eagleton Ballot, discovered that 51% of New Jersey voters thought that Menendez didn’t deserve reelection and 49% thought that he ought to resign. The ballot surveyed 600 New Jersey adults after the mistrial was declared final November.
The ballot additionally discovered that New Jerseyans who have been knowledgeable concerning the senator’s corruption trial first have been extra prone to say he didn’t deserve reelection, and Hopkins doesn’t shrink back from mentioning the corruption fees. Hopkins says that he’s operating partly as a result of he desires to guard the Senate seat for Democrats. “Dropping this one seat, this one vote” might have a serious influence on insurance policies (like well being care) that shield a number of Individuals, Hopkins mentioned.
He’s additionally operating on the heels of Murphy’s 2017 marketing campaign, through which he ran on a litany of liberal targets, from a $15 minimal wage to legalized marijuana. Overseas coverage progressives have already complained that Menendez — who holds considerably extra hawkish views on Cuba and Iran than some Democrats — has regained his place because the rating member of the Senate Overseas Relations Committee.
Menendez’s marketing campaign did not instantly reply for remark.