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Bob Menendez’s New Jersey Senate race moves to ‘tossup’

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Bob Menendez
Sen. Bob Menendez.
Aaron P.
Bernstein/Getty Images


  • Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat whose federal
    corruption charges were dropped in January, is facing an
    increasingly uphill battle for reelection. 
  • On Friday, the non-partisan Cook Political Report moved the
    blue state Senate race from “lean Democratic” to “toss up.”
  • Most political observers believe the senator’s ethics scandal
    is to blame in a race that should be an easy win for
    Democrats. 

Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat whose federal corruption
charges were
dropped in January
, is facing an increasingly uphill battle
for reelection. 

On Friday, the non-partisan
Cook Political Report moved
the blue state Senate race from
“lean Democratic” to a “toss up,” a bad sign for Menendez just 11
days out from Election Day. Most political observers believe the
senator’s ethics scandal is to blame for the increasingly
competitive nature of a race that should be an easy win for
Democrats in a state that has 900,000 more registered Democratic
voters than Republican. 

“The contest isn’t about anything else but Democratic US
Sen. Bob Menendez and his ethics problems,” Cook’s Jennifer Duffy

wrote on Friday

While Menendez, 64, has managed to rally support from his Senate
colleagues, he faced an unexpectedly strong primary challenge
from an unknown candidate with barely any money — a sign of New
Jerseyans’ disapproval. Since the DOJ dropped the corruption
charges against him following last year’s mistrial, the lawmaker
has maintained
some of the lowest approval ratings
of any senator in the
country.

Menendez’s opponent, Republican pharmaceutical CEO Bob
Hugin, has far outspent him — $27.7 million to $11.8 million —
but the Democratic Party has poured almost $6.5 million in the
race in recent days, Cook reported. (Hugin has faced his own
ethics issues after the company he used to lead settled a $280
million lawsuit
last month over charges that it falsely
advertised a cancer medication.) 

For months, Democrats have held out hope that they can flip both
the House and Senate, but this race and a handful of vulnerable
Democrats in deeply red states makes that possibility appear
unlikely. 

And Democrats have uphill battles in red states where they hope
to pick up seats, including Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and
Tennessee.

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