Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezGOP’s Obama-era probes fuel Senate angst Government watchdog: ‘No evidence’ Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips No time to be selling arms to the Philippines MORE (D-N.J.) won reelection in New Jersey’s Senate race on Tuesday night, a huge relief for Democrats as he faced a tougher-than-expected challenge in the deep-blue state.
Menendez defeated Republican Bob Hugin, a former pharmaceutical company CEO, in race that became surprisingly tight over the summer.
ADVERTISEMENTRepublicans haven’t won a Senate seat in New Jersey since 1972. The Garden State voted for former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE by 14 points in 2016. But Menendez’s campaign was heavily dogged by his past legal woes, which were a frequent line of attack from Hugin.
In 2015, Menendez was indicted on bribery and fraud charges for which he has denied any wrongdoing. His trial ended in a hung jury and federal prosecutors ultimately dropped the charges, but he was “severely admonished” by the Senate Ethics Committee.
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With polls showing a close race and a lack of enthusiasm for Menendez in the primary, Hugin injected at least $31 million of his own money into his campaign. That forced national Democrats to make late ad buys to buoy Menendez, diverting resources from defending other incumbents in competitive races where President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE was more popular.
Menendez framed Hugin, who served as the president’s state campaign chairman in 2016, as a Trump acolyte. And as health care dominated the midterms, Menendez hewed closely to his work on the Affordable Care Act and hammered Hugin’s pharmaceutical company, Celgene Corp., for steeply raising the price of a cancer drug.
Menendez, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has served in the Senate since 2006 and has been in New Jersey politics for more than 30 years.