Progressive organizer Ricardo Rojas says he’ll challenge Democratic establishment favorite Rob Menendez, Jr., the son of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), in the 8th District congressional race, claiming it’s time to give the power back to the people.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“It’s time for a change, for everyday people to have a seat at the decision-making table. That’s why I’m running for Congress: to empower people and fight for our community’s interests, not the party bosses,” he said in a statement.
As soon as U.S. Rep. Albio Sires announced he’d be retiring at the end of this year, progressives vowed to find a challenger, even as Menendez, Jr. quickly got the backing of the incumbent and eventually the Democratic power brokers in Hudson and Union Counties.
A son of Cuban and Colombian parents from Union City, Rojas is an organizer with years of experience working and managing campaigns for progressive Democratic candidates.
He was the campaign manager for Hector Oseguera’s 2020 congressional race and for multiple county commissioner candidates that challenged the establishment in 2020.
He also lists himself a co-founder of Progressive Democrats of New Jersey (PDNJ), and their Hudson chapter (PDHC). His work in the 2021 primary helped to end the gender requirements for the Hudson County Democratic Committee and elect nine candidates.
“Ricardo has built his career on helping everyday people run for office. This campaign strengthens our democratic process by focusing on the community, without asking for permission from a powerful few,” added Danielle Freire, who challenged for the Ward D Council seat in November.
He currently works full time as an electrical engineer operating, repairing and maintaining a proton therapy system, a cutting edge technology used to treat cancer.
His initial platform includes fighting for affordable rentals and homeownership opportunities, mass transit expansion, student loan forgiveness, Medicare for All, and a Green New Deal.
Rojas encourages anyone interested in having a conversation about the 8th District to call or text him at (201)-744-3804.
“Whether you’ve called this place home for 30 days or 30 years, I believe you belong in this community; everyone regardless of race, gender, or economic status deserves to grow, live, work, and age comfortably here. I believe this faith in our community will lead us not just to the halls of Congress, but to end the corrupt systems that oppress and divide us.”
Menendez, Jr. didn’t formally announce his candidacy until January 6th, about two-and-a-half weeks after he appeared poised to run. He said he waited until the anniversary of the attacks of the U.S. Capitol since they created “a generation defining moment.”
Rojas’ candidacy is not a total shock for astute political observers, as he took aim at Menendez, Jr. and the political establishment on that same day in a letter to the editor.
The primary election is on June 7th where congressional seats will be on the top of the ballot in New Jersey and Menendez, Jr. will be all but guaranteed to run on the Democratic party lines.