With just two weeks to go in the U.S. Senate race in New Jersey, facing a strong challenge from wealthy GOP candidate Bob Hugin, incumbent Bob Menendez received the endorsement of several police and firefighter unions earlier today.
Before criticizing Hugin for spending millions of dollars in online and broadcast attack ads against him, Menendez discussed his record of supporting first responders in Congress dating back to 1992.
“During my first term in Congress, I voted for legislation signed by then-President Clinton to create the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, known as the COPS program. I’m proud that in the last decade alone since I went to the Senate I’ve secured over $100 million in COPS hiring grants that have put nearly 600 police officers on the job here in New Jersey,” he said
“These investments are worth every penny. They build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, which we can all agree makes us safer.”
On the topic of firefighters, Menendez said that he has “delivered record funding,” which includes $111 million to purchase new vehicles and protective gear, as well as $250 million to recruit, train and hire.
Menendez then warned what’s at stake in two weeks.
“We know that a wealthy drug company CEO like Bob Hugin is sure to spend even more of his millions on despicable, misleading, false attack ads, attack ads that have been discredited by the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN and so many others,” Menendez began.
“But if I had to choose between all the corporate cash made off the backs of cancer patients in the world, and the support of New Jersey police officers, firefighters, emergency responders and security workers, I’ll choose our first responders every time.”
Multiple men and women in blue were in attendance at today’s presser, including Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari who recounted an example of when Menendez came through in securing much needed federal funds.
“He brings home the money that helps us protect everyone. I know firsthand, two years ago we were hiring 25 Sheriff officers which we badly needed. But we only had enough money in the budget to hire 13. So I went to Senator Menendez for help. Within four months, he secured $1.5 million for us to hire all 25 Sheriff officers,” Schillari recalled.
“Menendez doesn’t just deliver for Hudson County, but he delivers for all of New Jersey. We have to re-elect him because make no mistake, Senator Menendez has first responders’ backs.”
In addition to Schillari, the Port Authority Policemen’s Benevolent Association, Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey and Firefighter Mutual Benevolent Association joined in backing Menendez’s re-election.
Hugin has run an aggressive, hard hitting campaign since he won the Republican primary in June, punctuated by an ad that highlighted allegations from 2012 that accused Menendez of sleeping with underage prostitutes.
The allegations never made it to the U.S. Department of Justice’s indictment of the senator in 2015 and the ad was deemed false and/or misleading by major media outlets such as The Washington Post and the New York Times.
Nevertheless, Hugin’s team has stood by the content of the ad.
Polls have Hugin anywhere within two to 11 points of Menendez, though most recent polls have the latter leading by around seven or eight points.
Editor’s Note: On Thursday, October 25th, Hudson County Sheriff’s Office FOP Lodge 127 President Annette Rolon said that her union had not, and will not, endorse a candidate in the U.S. Senate race.