New Jersey Senate: Revised Bottom Line

On November 16, 2017, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s trial on 14 federal counts of corruption, including bribery, conspiracy and making false statements ended in a mistrial and prosecutors opted not to retry him.  At the end of April, the Senate Ethics Committee released a four-page letter that “severely admonished” Menendez for the same actions that were the subject of his trial.  The trial and the severe admonishment have left voters disillusioned with the incumbent.  Nearly two-thirds of voters consistently tell pollsters that the incumbent doesn’t deserve re-election and his job approval rating is in the low 30s. But, New Jersey remains a very blue state and the political environment still favors Democrats, even a damaged incumbent.  Republicans don’t have much of a bench here, but they have settled on a self-funding political newcomer in pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin.  Hugin put $7.5 million of his own money in the race in the first quarter and began television advertising.  Menendez is favored to win another term, but his problems make this race worth keeping an eye on. The contest is in the Likely Democrat column.