U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez (D-8) just announced his re-election bid in the midst of his father’s federal indictment, taking a swipe at Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla for floating the idea of a potential primary challenge.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“I ran for Congress promising to meet the moment – and that’s what I’ve worked hard to do since taking office in January. This is where I grew up and where my wife and I are raising our family. I love this district and its people with every fiber of my being,” Menendez said in a statement.
“I am focused on working every single day to represent my neighbors to the best of my ability. And I will be running for re-election based on that record so I can continue to serve the residents of this district that I love, in stark contrast to those who may run to further their own naked political ambition. I am focused on the important work that remains and will tend to it every day I have the honor of serving the 8th Congressional District.”
Bhalla is a former Hoboken councilman-at-large who won a six-way race for mayor in 2017 in light of Dawn Zimmer’s retirement (she endorsed him). He then ran unopposed in 2021, largely due to sky high approval ratings as a result of the city’s COVID-19 response.
The first Sikh mayor in New Jersey, Bhalla developed a close relationship with U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who frequented the Mile Square City for governmental announcements, most recently the ribbon cutting for the ResilienCity Park in June.
Earlier this afternoon, Rob Horowitz, a spokesman for Bhalla, said in a statement that the mayor is seriously considering a bid for Congress, something he thought better of last year when Albio Sires retired and Menendez quickly received the support of local Democrats.
“Mayor Bhalla is focused on delivering for the residents of Hoboken. He is also seriously considering running for Congress. If he decides to run, he will be a formidable candidate with the capacity to raise the necessary amount of money to get his message across to 8th district Democratic primary voters.”
Hoboken Councilman-at-Large Joe Quintero, who was elected in November 2021 as part of Bhalla’s ticket, was the only one out of nine council members who spoke at length on a potential primary.
“I’m a Democrat, I like Rob, Jr., but ultimately I know Ravi and throughout his career in Hoboken he’s been responsible for making real differences in residents in our community,” he said over the phone.
“I for one see him as an inspirational leader. I’d be inclined to support him because I know how effective he’s been and can be at the congressional level.”
The Hudson County Democratic Organization supported Rob Menendez last year at the urging of his father before any other major candidates emerged.
They would prefer not to have a messy June 4th, 2024 primary, but they are now stuck in a precarious position after deciding to remain neutral in the elder Menendez’s corruption case (his son is not accused of any wrongdoing).
This morning at Hudson County Community College in Union City, Bob Menendez reiterated that he wouldn’t be resigning and planned on going to trial.
U.S. Rep. Any Kim (D-3) announced a primary challenge to Bob Menendez, as did activist Larry Hamm, since he did not heed calls from top state leaders to resign.
Overall, the indictment charges that Bob and Nadine Menendez accepted corrupt payments for their mortgage, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300, $486,471 in cash, another $79,760 from the safe deposit box, two one-kilogram gold bars, and 11 one-ounce gold bars.
On Friday morning, shortly after the indictment was unsealed, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damien Williams said the investigation is “very much ongoing.”