Signs Point to Sen. Menendez Not Running

As the latest Monmouth University Poll released its findings today that a majority of New Jersey residents want U.S. Senator Bob Menedez to resign from office due to federal criminal charges, the New Jersey Globe reported that the senior senator from New Jersey has not collected the 1,000 petition signatures needed to appear on the June 4 Democratic primary ballot. The filing deadline to do so is March 25, and a friend of Menendez told the New Jersey Globe that the senator “is not running.”

Additionally, three sources with direct knowledge of Menendez’s plans said he is “not using paid staff or volunteers to get on the ballot,” according to the Globe.

Menendez can quickly acquire the 1,000 signatures needed before the deadline, but signs of his not running are clear. Menendez declined to take part in six Democratic county conventions and has not notified party leaders that he will take part in any other remaining conventions. His federal corruption trial is scheduled to begin on May 6 in Manhattan.

If Menendez chooses not to seek reelection, that decision may be a prudent one. According to the Monmouth University poll, only 16% of Garden State voters approve of the job he is doing while 3 in 4 (74%) disapprove. This is a record low rating for the senator in Monmouth polling going back to 2008.

In the new poll, Menendez gets just 23% approval from Democrats. Nearly 2 in 3 (65%) now disapprove of his performance, joining large majorities of Republicans (82%) and independents (77%) who feel the same.

The last time Menendez faced federal corruption charges, he held a much better job rating of 42% approve and 38% disapprove (May 2015). Those charges were dismissed, and Menendez went on to win reelection in 2018.

This past September, Menendez and his wife Nadine Menendez were indicted on bribery charges. It was alleged that the couple accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for Menendez using his power and influence to protect and to enrich three New Jersey businessmen and to benefit the government of Egypt. The bribes came in the form of cash, gold, home mortgage payments, a Mercedes-Benz and a low-show or no-show job for Nadine Menendez, the indictment alleges.

This past Tuesday, the Justice Department unsealed an 18-count indictment, adding to the charges against Menendez. The new indictment concerns two mortgage payments and a car payment which two businessmen made for Menendez’s wife.

Menendez and his wife allegedly instructed their attorneys to tell federal investigators they thought the payments were loans when, in fact, prosecutors said Menendez knew the payments were bribes.

In a statement, Menendez denied all wrongdoing, saying, “Today’s superseding indictment is a flagrant abuse of power. The government has long known that I learned of and helped repay loans – not bribes – that had been provided to my wife.”

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