Hoboken Mayor Bhalla officially launches challenge to Rep. Menendez in 8th District


After about 10 weeks of speculation, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has made his congressional campaign official, formally launching a bid against U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez (D-8) for the June 4th, 2024 primary.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“We are at a pivotal moment in our nation, facing rising sea levels, rising inequality and rising hatred,” Bhalla said in a statement this morning.

“For Congress to rise to the challenge, we need new voices and new leadership—leadership that is focused on making real progress on solving problems and ensuring that all New Jerseyans and Americans no matter their skin color, ethnicity, gender, whom they choose to love, or where they started in life can still realize the American Dream.”

He continued that as congressman, he would fight “to make healthcare a right for everyone,” fight climate change, protect women’s reproductive rights, push back against hate, and help build an equitable economy.

In a pre-recorded video released this morning, Bhalla highlighted his Sikh faith and the discrimination he faced because of it, also highlighting the infamous “terror flier” that hit days before the 2017 mayoral contest.

“Now, I’m running for Congress in New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District because I believe that America is better than the demagogues who seek to divide us or the politicians who strive only to serve themselves,” he said, taking a shot at Menendez and his father.

“I believe in the idea of America that my parents came to with seven dollars to their name… and dreams that anything was possible. Where an immigrant story is the American story. And where this Jersey kid can be proud to raise some Jersey kids of his own. To work towards a brighter future for them. And for you.”

Bhalla, who is in his second term as mayor, said through a spokesman in late September that he was “seriously considering” a bid for Congress, prompting Menendez to announce his re-election bid hours later.

“I welcome Ravi into the race especially since he can validate the work we’ve done on behalf of the residents of Hoboken including advocating for the expansion of the Southwest Resiliency Park, supporting Safe Streets for All grants for Hoboken, battling helicopter noise, and introducing the Local Solutions to End Homelessness Act to benefit Hoboken and Hudson County,” Menendez said in a statement.

“While we have advocated tirelessly for Hoboken, it seems the only reason Ravi has entered the race after endorsing me in 2022 and publicly applauding our work this year is because a week after losing control of the city council, he sees no political future for himself in Hoboken.”

Bhalla went 1 for 4 in city council races he contested in November and December, successfully backing 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen and backing candidates who lost in the 1st, 2nd, and 6th Wards, respectively.

3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo and 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, both potential candidates for mayor in 2025, did not face opposition backed by Bhalla.

The Mile Square City mayor has indicated last month he has raised $509,000 thus far, though he has still not filed any paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) yet as of this morning.

Menendez’s bid to re-election got a boost this month when the Hudson County Democratic Organization and 10 local mayors, along with Hudson County Executive-elect Craig Guy, (followed by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer) endorsed him.

Notably absent is Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who said last week that the federal charges, which includes acting as a foreign agent to Egypt, against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) should have been denounced by his son, the congressman.

Fulop has not indicated that he’d be supporting Bhalla or any other challenger as of yet, with Kyle Jasey, the son of outgoing Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27), the only other declared candidate.

As a result, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate said he wouldn’t be supporting Rob Menendez for another term.

Bhalla and Fulop are the only two Hudson County mayors who have called on Bob Menendez to resign, with the latter stating in an interview with HCV in October that the Senate should expel him.


Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez (D-8). 

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  1. Hoboken pays for and deserves a full time mayor not one who took a second Job while still taking a salary from Hoboken and is now distracted by running a political campaign for higher office.

    • I agree, @Hoboken Matters. There’s no way Ravi can be an effective Mayor when he’s working another job at a law firm and now running for congress. He should resign.

  2. Ravi needs to blend in with a bigger group of corrupt colleagues. Ultimately, that’s where he feels most in his element. Let’s boot him out of Hoboken and save Rebuild by Design. Then he can run his financial “schemes” with his buddies in DC and spare Hoboken further. Yes, it will put a hit into the local bar scams of his pals here but they’ll get by.

    • Was thinking the same thing – this will be a no holds barred cage wrestling match, and it will be interesting to see if young Menendez is up to the task. He will no doubt receive help from his father’s crew and a vast majority of the HudCo crowd will be available for the photo ops. Junior did not have to break a sweat the last time – this will be quite different.

      • Ravinder Singh Bhalla and his crew will always paint himself as the victim.
        He and his operatives will try to manipulate every opportunity in the press and the public to continue to view him as a victim.
        He has been able to leverage funding from the Sikh community who for the most part do not reside in New Jersey.

  3. Talk about a bubble. Everyone so far has forgotten that the 8th congressional district includes parts of Newark and parts of Elizabeth plus the rest of Hudson County.
    Ravi might like to play identity politics and we will see how far that gets him in the only majority Hispanic district in the whole state.
    And for him to think he has a chance of winning is as ludicrous and asinine as the 9 Hoboken BOE members plus the superintendent who were stupid enough to think that a $280 million bond would easily pass by the electorate.