Embattled Senator Bob Menendez Says He Could Make Independent Run for Reelection

March 22, 2024

Sen. Bob Menendez (D. N.J.), who has faced federal charges over his alleged role in a bribery scheme, on Thursday said he will not seek reelection as a Democrat but said he hopes to run as an independent. 

"I will not file for the Democratic primary this June. I am hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election," Menendez said in a video statement on Thursday. The New Jersey Democrat has been indicted four times for allegedly giving political favors to the Egyptian government and three businessmen in exchange for "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in bribes. 

"Unfortunately, the present accusations I am facing—of which I am innocent and will prove so—will not allow me to have [a productive] political dialogue and debate with political opponents who have already made it a cornerstone of their campaign," Menendez said in the video, adding voters should "withhold judgment until justice takes place." 

The embattled Democrat would need to collect 1,000 signatures by Monday to get on the Democratic ballot but only 800 signatures by June 4 to run as an independent. Should he choose to seek reelection, he would likely face one of the Democratic contenders for the seat—Rep. Andy Kim and Tammy Murphy, the wife of New Jersey governor Philip Murphy.

Kim has slammed Menendez for "putting his own personal benefit ahead of what’s right for this country," adding that "there is no way that he can win this seat [as an independent], but what he could do is jeopardize this seat and give Republicans a chance."

Since he was first indicted on bribery charges in September, Menendez has fallen out of favor with his Democratic colleagues, many of whom demanded his resignation. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) last week scoffed at the possibility of Menendez running as an independent. "I dare him. Go ahead. Go ahead, dude. If that sleaze ball wants to pull 7 percent, go right ahead. And that’s going to be strange trying to campaign while you’re in your trial," Fetterman said.