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Saturday, July 20, 2024 | Back issues
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U.S. Representative Andy Kim snags Democratic nomination for Senate in New Jersey

It will be Democrat versus Democrat versus Republican in the fall to fill the seat currently held by Senator Bob Menendez.

TRENTON, N.J. (CN) — U.S. Representative Andy Kim secured the nomination on the Democratic side and will face off against a Republican developer in the fall in the race to win the Senate seat currently held by embattled Senator Bob Menendez.

Kim was declared the winner shortly after polls in New Jersey closed at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, with less than 8% of the vote in. An hour later, Republican Curtis Bashaw won his party's nomination for the Senate, beating out a conservative mayor endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

“We built a stunningly powerful grassroots movement that took down the unfair ballot line and changed NJ politics forever,” Kim said in a statement after he won his party’s nomination. “Now we are ready to take our movement for change to the U.S. Senate.”

Until 2023, Menendez was thought to be a shoo-in for reelection, but after the three-term Democrat was charged with various bribery and conspiracy charges, the seat became up for grabs.

Menendez, 70, was accused of accepting gold bars, cash, and other lavish gifts from New Jersey businessmen in exchange for political influence in Egypt. Menendez and his wife have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Menendez was not on the ballot Tuesday, but the day before the primary he filed as an independent Democrat to run in November, when his name will be printed next to Kim and Republican hotel entrepreneur Curtis Bashaw.

“It displeases me to have to go this route, thanks to overzealous prosecutors, but I will do what must be done to continue to uphold my oath of office,” Menendez said in a statement. “Simply put, I have delivered for New Jersey and will continue to do so.”

Menendez will also have to go through Bashaw, who fended off Christine Serrano Glassner despite her many high-profile GOP endorsements, including by Trump at a rally in Wildwood last month.

"Tonight is the start of real change, because our state and country are at a crossroads," Bashaw said after accepting the nomination. "We will take the battle to Andy Kim and the Democrats."

Bashaw was criticized by some in the Republican party as being too close to former Governor Chris Christie, so much so that Trump decided to throw his hat into the ring for Serrano Glassner.

However, Bashaw had a significant lead in fundraising over his GOP rivals, and he heads into the fall with $524,000 cash in hand, according to the Federal Election Commission.  

Democrats still have a strong advantage in the state, as no Republican has been elected to the U.S. Senate from New Jersey since 1972. Kim’s fundraising has dwarfed his GOP rivals, pulling in roughly $4.1 million. Menendez has about $3.5 million, though he likely will spend some of that defending his court case in Manhattan.

Kim, who has represented New Jersey’s Third Congressional District since 2019, made headlines in 2021 when he was photographed cleaning up following the Jan. 6, 2021, rio at the U.S. Capitol. He beat out labor figure Patricia Campos-Medina and Lawrence Hamm, an activist out of Newark.

Noreen Neary, who is director of archives at the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, said outside the Grace Presbyterian Church in Madison, N.J., that she respected Hamm but noted Kim had her vote.

“I like all three candidates but, in reality, Mr. Kim has much more experience than the other two candidates,” Neary said after she voted Tuesday morning.

Kim announced his campaign the day after Menendez was indicted, and his well-run campaign has already thwarted competition from New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy and secured a court battle over contentious ballot placement issues.

Following Kim’s win on Tuesday, progressives were joyous due to his successful battle against the so-called line ballot issue.

“Andy rallied the people to defeat a powerfully corrupt, decades-old political machine,” said Indivisible Action’s Co-Executive Director Ezra Levin in a statement.

After learning of Menendez’s official run as an independent, Kim was quick to take aim on X. “Everyone knows Bob Menendez isn’t running for NJ families,” he tweeted. “He’s running for himself.”

The polls currently support Kim, who's overwhelmingly been the leading choice for Democrats in several polls earlier this year and the clear winner in November, even in scenarios where Menendez hoped to play spoiler as an independent.

Meanwhile, Menendez has suffered horrible polling, with a Monmouth University poll finding nearly three-fourths of New Jersey residents disapproved of the job he did. The senator reportedly has no campaign staff and is currently managing his campaign himself.

“I don’t think he’s going to get very far at all,” said Neary, who added if Menendez was on the Democratic ballot she would still have voted for Kim. “Not in light of the accusations against him and his wife.”

Follow @NickRummell
Categories / Elections, Politics

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