Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., announced Saturday he would challenge Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., in the state’s Democratic primary ahead of the 2024 election.
Kim is among a growing chorus of Democrats calling for Menendez to resign following a federal indictment for alleged corruption.
“After calls to resign, Senator Menendez said ‘I am not going anywhere.’ As a result, I feel compelled to run against him,” Kim wrote from his campaign account on X, formerly Twitter. “Not something I expected to do, but NJ deserves better. We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity.”
The account’s bio was also updated to read, “Running to represent New Jersey in the United States Senate. Dad to two troublemakers. Whether you vote for me or not, I work for you.”
Menendez was charged through an unsealed indictment Friday in the Southern District of New York with allegedly agreeing to use his official position to benefit New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes and Egypt’s government in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes. The indictment also charges Menendez’s wife, Nadine, and the three businessmen in the years-long bribery scheme. Federal prosecutors said the bribes included gold bars, cash and a luxury convertible.
So far, Menendez has refused to resign his seat and insisted he will run for re-election in 2024 but stepped down from his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Friday, as Senate Democratic Caucus rules require any members charged with a felony to abandon committee chair roles.
Besides Kim, other members of New Jersey’s House delegation have called for Menendez to step down. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., issued a statement commending Menendez for being a “critical voice and a tough fighter for Jersey, with a strong record that includes gun safety, protecting our environment and a woman’s right to chooser and fighting racism and antisemitism.” “That said, given the gravity of the allegations, I believe it will be difficult for the Senator to carry out his responsibilities,” Gottheimer added. “For the good of the state, he should step aside as he focuses on his defense.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who would be able to appoint someone to serve the remainder of Menendez’s term if the senator resigns, also called for him to step down. The governor condemned the allegations against Menendez as “serious charges that implicate national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system.”
Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., subject to his own controversy over the Senate’s lax dress code, appeared to be the first Democratic senator to call for Menendez’s resignation Saturday.
“Senator Menendez should resign,” Fetterman wrote on X. “He’s entitled to the presumption of innocence, but he cannot continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations. I hope he chooses an honorable exit and focuses on his trial.”
Menendez faced a federal corruption indictment in 2015, but those charges ended in a mistrial in 2017. In 2018, the Senate Ethics Committee said he broke federal law and rules of the upper chamber in accepting unreported gifts from a friend and political ally. He still won reelection later that year.
Kim, who’s served in Congress since 2019, previously served as an adviser for the Obama administration, had advocated against anti-Asian hate following the pandemic and went viral online following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol after a photo surfaced of him cleaning up debris strewn across the Rotunda afterward.
Menendez so far has one other challenger in the 2024 Democratic primary.
Kyle Jasey, a real estate lender and the son of Democratic New Jersey Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, filed to run for a 2024 U.S. Senate campaign in August.
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