Sen. Bob Menendez Says He Won't Seek Reelection As A Democrat

Sen. Bob Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat facing more than a dozen charges over an alleged years-long corruption scheme, announced Thursday he will notseek reelection in November but may still run as an independent.

“I will not file for the Democratic primary this June,” Menendez said in a 10-minute video. “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.”

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

His announcement comes a few months ahead of the state’s primary on June 4. By then, Menendez is expected be in the middle of a seven-week criminal trial on charges he “provided sensitive U.S. Government information and took other steps that secretly aided the Government of Egypt” in exchange for lavish gifts, including cash, gold bars and designer watches, according to last year’s indictment.

Prosecutors added more obstruction of justice charges to the case last month, accusing Menendez and his wife of accepting expensive gifts in exchange for helping three businessmen secure projects with foreign governments.

Democrats have abandoned Menendez, who’s refused to step down from office before his term ends in January, as have key members of his staff, leaving little hope an election victory.

“As a rule, it’s never wise to conclude that a candidate has no chance of success,” Robert Torricelli, a former Democratic senator from New Jersey, told The New York Times this month. “This is the exception.”

Menendez has maintained his innocence and even suggested he’s the victim of a conspiracy to oust him. “Those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator and serve with honor and distinction,” he said in a statement following his indictment last year.

This latest case against Menendez comes just a few years after he got off on unrelated corruption charges when a judge declared a mistrial over a hung jury.

Among those vying for Menendez’s seat in Congress are Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) and Tammy Murphy, a Democrat married to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D).

“I will win in November even if I have to beat Menendez and a Republican simultaneously,” Kim posted on X in response to Thursday’s announcement. “The balance of the Senate is on the line and we need the strongest candidate possible to keep this seat blue and the Senate in Democratic control.”