Democrats are worried about losing in a state that has not elected a Republican senator since 1972.
Although New Jersey Senate polls show incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez leading, Democrats are worried of a potential “disaster” in a state which hasn’t elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972, according to the Inquirer.
The junior senator from the state, Democrat Cory Booker, has been campaigning hard for Menendez, and this week he reminded people of the Garden State that nothing could be taken for granted. In 2009, despite New Jersey being a deep-blue state, Republican Chris Christie was able to win the gubernatorial race against then-Governor Jon Corzine, who was an unpopular incumbent. While Booker didn’t directly talk about Menendez’s popularity in the state, the analogy to the 2009 race was a clear reference to the Democratic senator’s reeling popularity.
Menendez is running against Republican Bob Hugin, and many Democrats privately fear that Hugin might cause an upset in the midterms. If that were to happen, it would almost certainly diminish any hopes the Democrats might have of winning the Senate.
“Everybody’s nervous,” one New Jersey Democrat said about the potential results.
One of the reasons Democrats are worried about a “disaster” is Menendez’s involvement in a federal corruption trial conducted by the FBI last year. While Menendez managed to come unscathed through the trial, his reputation took a heavy toll, to the point that now Menendez is less popular than Donald Trump in a state which helped Hillary Clinton beat him by 14 points in the 2016 elections.
Meanwhile, Hugin, who has poured in nearly $30 million of his personal wealth into his campaign, is a staunch Trump ally who served as his New Jersey campaign’s finance chairman and was invited to the Republican National Convention as a delegate by Trump. He is a former pharmaceutical executive who has promised to stand up to Trump if he is elected.
The Republican has also attempted to thwart Bob Menendez’s effort of framing the New Jersey Senate race as a referendum on Trump, instead claiming that it was a referendum on Menendez.
“Bob Menendez’s referendum is in 2018,” he said. “He’s got to be held accountable.”
Despite Hugin’s upbeat attitude, however, he trails Menendez in the polls. It appears Donald Trump’s latest moves, which included introducing an executive order to abolish birthright citizenship, and his promise to send troops to the southern border to confront immigrants hasn’t sat well with New Jersey’s voters. Hugin has since tried to go into damage control mode by tweeting that he didn’t support Trump’s move to abolish birthright citizenship, but the president might have done just enough to help Menendez.
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