N.J. Sen. Robert Menendez bows out of Democratic primary

Menendez, the Garden State’s senior senator, has left the door open to run as an independent in November.

Sen. Bob Menendez leaves federal court, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in New York.

Sen. Bob Menendez leaves federal court, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, in a video posted to YouTube on Thursday evening, said he would not run in the Democratic primary in June. The announcement from the state’s senior senator comes two weeks after he was charged with obstruction of justice in a rewritten indictment against him and his wife, Nadine.

The charges sparked a hotly contested primary for his senate seat.

“Unfortunately, the present accusations I am facing of which I am innocent, and will prove so, will not allow me to have that type of dialogue and debate with political opponents that have already made it the cornerstone of their campaign,” he said. “New Jerseyans deserve better than that. You deserve to hear from those who wish to represent you about what they would do for you and your families in the future.”

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Menendez still left the door open to running in November and retaining his seat.

“I am hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election,” he added. “This would allow me the time to not only remind New Jerseyans of how I’ve succeeded in being your champion, but how we will secure our financial futures.”

In the nine-minute video, Menendez reiterated his innocence to the charges against him while rattling off what he accomplished over his two-decade career in the Senate, including securing $60 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief funding.

Menendez and his wife are accused of accepting cash, gold bars, mortgage payments and a $60,000 Mercedes Benz convertible for using his office to perform favors for three businessmen.

The couple and two of the businessmen have pleaded not guilty. Bob Menendez refused to resign from office.

A third businessman, Jose Uribe, pleaded guilty to several charges and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

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