Senate Democrats, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Chuck Schumer is in the fight of his political life to maintain Senate control.

Now, a problem landed in his lap that he never saw coming.

And Chuck Schumer was blindsided when a Democrat in a criminal trial gave him this curveball.

Democrat facing federal corruption trial runs for re-election as an Independent 

Embattled U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is on trial in federal court in Manhattan for 18 charges related to bribery and corruption.

The FBI raided his home last September to find $100,000 worth of gold bars and $480,000 worth of cash, “much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe.”

He claimed that he hoarded the cash and gold bars at his home because of his parents’ experience fleeing communist Cuba in the 1950s.

Menendez – the former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – is accused of taking the gold bars, cash, and other bribes in exchange for using his political office to benefit the governments of Egypt and Qatar along with various businessmen.

He’s maintained his innocence and vowed to beat the charges against him in court 

Normally, most politicians would throw in the towel in the middle of a major scandal like this.

But Menedez threw everyone a curveball by filing to run for re-election as an Independent.

His allies collected enough signatures to get him on the ballot for the November election.

“Today, I submitted well above the threshold of signatures required to run for re-election,” Menendez said in a statement. “The people of this great state deserve a leader in Washington with a proven track record of fighting tooth and nail to deliver results, and I intend to keep doing so as an independent Democrat.”

Menendez gets the added benefit of being able to use the money for his re-election campaign for his legal bills. 

Bob Menendez’s Independent run could turn the New Jersey Senate race upside down 

Republicans haven’t won a Senate race in New Jersey since 1972.

Representative Andy Kim (D-NJ) is the heavy favorite as the Democrat Senate nominee who’s facing a challenge from hotel developer Curtis Bashaw.

But Menendez being on the ballot could make him a spoiler and possibly make things interesting in the Garden State this fall.

Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics Director Micah Rasmussen said Menendez could affect the race.

“If you take even 5% of the vote, that can potentially upend the race,” Rasmussen said.

“It’s more possible that they can be contenders for that race,” Rasmussen added. “It’s tantalizing to maybe Donald Trump or other national Republicans who want to put that seat into play.”

Kim has sounded the alarm in the past about Menendez upending Democrats’ plans to hold the Senate seat.

“There is no way that he can win this seat,” Kim said in March. “But what he could do is jeopardize this seat and give Republicans a chance.”

Menendez survived a federal trial for defrauding Medicare in 2017 to win re-election in 2018 as a Democrat.

SOMOS New Jersey Political Action Committee founder Joseph Barreto said that the longtime Senator still has support among pockets of Democrats in the state.

“Menendez still can wield that power that he still has people beholden to him, you know, different things, favors. He’s been around so long that God knows who was placed where, who got a job or things like that, and that’s where all this comes into play,” Barreto said.

Democrats may have to sweat out a Senate victory because of Bob Menendez. 

Election Buzz will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *