If you missed it last night Senator Menendez faced challenger Bob Hugin in the only debate of the NJ Senate race hosted by NJTV. It was an interesting debate and early polling showed Hugin came out on top by a 2 to 1 margin. I found Menendez unable to discuss his accomplishments after 25-years in the Senate and unwilling to answer questions about his indictment 3-years ago or his reprimand by the Senate Ethics Committee.
And it’s no wonder. In a state that can be considered reliably blue (New Jersey has not elected a Republican Senator since 1972) Menendez appears to have been unprepared for a challenge in a race that is now a statistical dead heat. During last night’s debate just about every one of his answers included President Trump – calling Hugin a Trump Republican and trying to align Hugin’s views with the President’s views in a state where the President has low approval ratings. Hugin successfully demonstrated that he is a leader and does not align with the President on every issue. “I began my career in the Marine Corps where I learned selflessness, leadership, honor and integrity”. Hugin shared some of the issues where he disagrees with the President including offshore drilling, immigration reform with a path to citizenship, removal of the $10,000 cap on SALT and funding NJ’s infrastructure. He demonstrated he is a supporter of gay rights, pro-abortion and supports parts of the ACA. “I am not a Trump Republican but an independent Republican” Hugin said.
For Menendez’s part he appears to have two accomplishments to tout after serving in the Senate since 1993.
He bought money back to New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy
He co-Authored the Affordable Care Act (which many entrepreneurs and leaders in small and mid-market business wouldn’t consider an accomplishment since the ACA raised their healthcare costs dramatically).
That’s it? After a 25-year career in the Senate that’s it Senator Menendez? The Affordable Care Act became law in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy took place in 2012. What did you do for the first 17-years in the Senate? What have you done in the past 6-years? I believe that if interviewing for a private sector job and having only two accomplishments to provide in a 25-year career he clearly would not present himself as the best candidate. Why should the Senate be different?
Menendez also refused to talk about his indictment 3-years ago on charges of bribery, fraud and lying to federal prosecutors about his involvement in an illegal immigration fraud or his reprimand from the Senate Ethics Committee who said he broke the law. Menendez had to know this would come up in the debate but rather than be prepared with an answer that might make the residents of New Jersey trust him again he just avoided the question.
If it wasn’t already clear I believe last night’s debate demonstrated that anyone voting for Menendez is simply voting party lines not for the best candidate to serve New Jersey. Menendez has failed and embarrassed the people of New Jersey and disgraced his Senate seat.
If you missed it last night you can watch the debate in its entirety below.