New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy suspends her Senate campaign to replace indicted Sen. Menendez

Murphy announced her decision in a video posted to her social media on Sunday. Her decision to drop out likely clears the way for U.S. Rep. Andy Kim in the Democratic primary.

Tammy Murphy

FILE - New Jersey first lady and U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Murphy talks to reporters at the Bergen County Democratic convention in Paramus, N.J., Monday, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy on Sunday suspended her U.S. Senate campaign to replace Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez as he faces federal corruption charges,

Murphy said in a video posted to social media that winning the Democratic primary would require her to wage “a very divisive and negative campaign.”

“With Donald Trump on the ballot and so much at stake for our nation, I will not in good conscience waste resources tearing down a fellow Democrat,” Murphy said.

Her decision to drop out probably clears the way for U.S. Rep. Andy Kim in the Democratic primary on June 4. Kim is mounting a more formidable challenge than is typical against a well-connected political figure in a state where connections count for a lot.

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Menendez announced that he would not run in that primary but did not rule out seeking reelection as an independent.

Murphy, a first-time candidate, was running with the backing of influential Democratic figures. Kim has centered his campaign in part on upending the state’s unique ballot design, widely viewed as favoring candidates preferred by county party insiders.

“New Jersey’s next senator must focus on the issues of our time and not be mired in tearing others down while dividing the people of our party and state,” she said.

Kim, a mild-mannered three-term congressman, is perhaps best known for being photographed cleaning debris from the U.S. Capitol after the Jan. 6 insurrection. He won several state county committee votes, including in his and Murphy’s home counties.

The stakes are high, with Democrats competing to hold on to their narrow control of the Senate.

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Republicans have their own primary unfolding, featuring businessman Curtis Bashaw, Mendham Borough Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner and former TV news reporter Alex Zdan.

Menendez vehemently denies allegations that he and his wife accepted bribes of gold bars, cash and a luxury car from three favor-seeking New Jersey businessmen. The couple is scheduled to go on trial in May.

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