Rasmussen: Without county lines, Bhalla vs. Rep. Menendez could go national


With no county lines for Democratic candidates as of now, the 8th District congressional race between Rep. Rob Menendez and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla could receive national attention, Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Political Director Micah Rasmussen said.

U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez (D-8) and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. Instagram photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“The 8th district primary just got upended in a big way, and that’s probably an understatement. But it doesn’t all of the sudden mean that Bhalla is favored and Menendez isn’t. It means that each of them needs to make the best case for themselves and put together the best campaign. Those matter now. There’s no shorthand, and that means both candidates need to stand on their own two feet, ” Rasmussen told HCV.

“Absent the party line, is the Menendez name a net positive or negative? With less than two years of serving the public, has Menendez been able to solidify a reputation of his own, rather than as the party’s endorsed candidate? Given Bhalla’s fundraising success, it’s entirely possible we’re going to see these campaigns heat up, and as House observers across the country begin to catch on, that it will gain national attention.”

Rasmussen’s remarks came before yesterday’s latest dustup between the Mile Square City mayor and the congressman, who fought over a quarter million dollar expenditure by a super PAC run by Samuel Bankman-Fried and a former client who pleaded guilty to running a $15 million Ponzi scheme.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Zahid Quraishi granted emergency injunctive relief in the case spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-3), a U.S. Senate candidate whose lawyers argued that New Jersey’s specific ballot formation, the only state in the country that uses it, is unconstitutional.

Bhalla was among several Hudson County politicians who applauded the decision, while Menendez, who had the line in Hudson, Essex, and Union Counties, took a neutral approach, contending that he plans to get elected to a second term either way.

Hudson County Clerk E. Junior Maldonado was the first in the state to withdraw from an appeal and Quraishi has since denied a motion to stay filed by other county clerks. The case now heads to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Even prior to the line getting eliminated for the June 4th primary (at least for Democrats), Bhalla and Menendez had been teeing off on each other, with the challenger seeking to tie the incumbent to his father, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who is facing a laundry list of federal corruption charges.

The freshman congressman has responded with attacking Bhalla by highlighting prior indiscretions, such as getting his law license suspended in New York and New Jersey.

A third candidate in the race, Kyle Jasey, a first time candidate who is the son of longtime Essex County Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, has thus far avoided entering the ring and letting his hands go in this race.

Additionally, Bhalla’s campaign was unsuccessful in challenging his nominating petitions; congressional candidates in New Jersey needed just 200 valid signatures and Jasey submitted 516.

In October, about one month after the first federal indictment against Senator Menendez was unsealed (three others have been unsealed since), Rasmussen said that New Jersey’s senior senator is resilient, but at some point voters will have had enough.

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    • The dumb but always reliable comment, as embarrassing and coo coo for Cocoa Puffs as it ever was. Please don’t ever change, Hoboken Rain Man!

        • Show me the money, girlfriend. C’mon, out with it. P-R-O-O-F. It’s very simple, just give us the evidence. Why are you holding back? Where is it?

          You’ve got nothing but a sad fantasy. You’ve never had anything. If you did, you’d show it, and Bhalla would be charged and convicted. But he hasn’t. Because YOU. GOT. NOTHING.

  1. Dump the nepo baby. If Bhalla sucks and Little Bobby wants to try again after Goldbar Daddy’s in the slammer, he can take another shot on a level playing field.