Menendez won’t file for Democratic primary, opening door to independent run

Menendez won’t file for Democratic primary, opening door to independent run

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a video announcement Thursday that he would be opening the door to running as an independent for his seat, despite pressure from within his own party to resign over his indictments.

Menendez, who has been charged with accepting bribes and acting an agent for the Egypt’s government, argued he was “innocent” against the accusations against him but said the accusations “will not allow me to have that type of dialogue and debate with political opponents that have already made it the cornerstone of their campaign.”

“Therefore, I will not file for the Democratic primary this June. I am hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election,” he said.

Menendez’s announcement comes just days before the filing deadline in New Jersey.

The New Jersey Democrat is facing pressure to not seek reelection after being hit with multiple indictments. He pleaded not guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent to Egypt and later pleaded not guilty after being hit with new charges over obstruction of justice. His wife has also been charged.

One businessman has already pleaded guilty to trying to bribe the senator and his wife for political upside.

Since then, several dozen Senate Democrats have urged Menendez to resign. New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy (D) and Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) have launched bids for his seat.

For the majority of his announcement video, Menendez reminded viewers of his legislative track record before later acknowledging that many of his constituents were frustrated with him.

“I know many of you are hurt and disappointed in me with the accusations I’m facing,” he said. “Believe me, I am disappointed at the false accusations as well. All I can ask of you is to withhold judgment until justice takes place.”

Menendez would have until June 4 to gather a minimum of 800 signatures to launch an independent bid. However, questions remain over his political fate amid his current prosecution.

A Monmouth University poll released earlier this month found 63 percent of adults in the state believe he should step down.

Updated at 6:54 p.m. ET

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