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Son of ‘Gold Bar’ Bob Menendez survives tough NJ Dem primary despite father’s trial

Rep. Robert Menendez Jr. nonetheless has the golden contact.

Menendez Jr. overcame the load of his final identify and scored the Democratic nomination for a second House time period Tuesday after surviving a spirited primary problem from Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla within the Garden State’s eighth Congressional District.

The 38-year-old freshman had been dogged by fallout from the bribery indictment in opposition to his father, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his stepmother Nadine Menendez.

Although Menendez Jr. wasn’t implicated within the case, many observers had seen the indictment because the seemingly downfall of the household political machine.

The winner of the primary can be closely favored to defeat Republican Anthony Valdes in November and symbolize the majority-Hispanic district, which covers elements of Newark, Jersey City and Elizabeth.

Rep. Rob Menendez held off a tough primary challenge from Hoboken's mayor and held onto the Democratic nomination for New Jersey's Eighth Congressional District on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.
Rep. Rob Menendez cruised to victory within the 2022 election for his father Sen. Bob Menendez’s former House seat. CQ-Roll Call, Inc through Getty Images

If Bhalla received, he would have been on observe to develop into the primary Sikh American to serve in Congress in over 60 years after Rep. Dalip Singh Saund, who represented California from 1957 to 1963.

Rob Menendez campaign sign
Rob Menendez leaned into his first identify — reasonably than his well-known surname — in his marketing campaign signage forward of the primary. Obtained by The New York Post

The Democratic nominee is closely favored to defeat Republican Anthony Valdes in November and symbolize the majority-Hispanic district, which covers elements of Newark, Jersey City and Elizabeth

The contest had extensively been seen as a take a look at of the Democratic machine in New Jersey, which as soon as wielded large affect over primary contests.

All that modified after Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) helped tank the so-called “County Line” system, during which native social gathering bosses elevated their most well-liked candidates by grouping their most well-liked contenders collectively on the poll.

New Jersey Republicans nonetheless use that system.

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla tried to make use of Bob Menendez’s corruption trial in opposition to Rob Menendez Jr. — despite the son not being implicated in any manner. AP

Menendez Jr. loved each the incumbency and the backing of high New Jersey Democrats, having campaigned with Gov. Phil Murphy over the weekend.

Top House Democrats, together with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), additionally helped fundraise for the youthful Menendez prematurely of the primary showdown, according to Axios.

In 2022, Menendez Jr. coasted to victory within the Democratic primary with 83% of the vote.

But this time, it rapidly grew to become obvious there can be stiffer competitors because of the elder Menendez being indicted on bribery fees in September of final yr.

Bhalla, who entered the race weeks after the fees dropped, had endorsed Menendez Jr. in the course of the 2022 election cycle — one thing he later chalked as much as intimidation.

“I was threatened by the Menendez machine, saying that if you don’t endorse him, Hoboken is going to get hurt,” Bhalla, who was elected mayor of Hoboken in 2017 and re-elected in 2021, alleged during their debate final week.

Menendez Jr. labored to court docket Latino voters, describing himself as “New Jersey’s only Hispanic Congressman” and having fun with the help of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s Super PAC BOLD, which blanketed the airwaves in support of him.

The elder Menendez has filed to run for re-election as an impartial, however faces a really treacherous path again to the higher chamber given his low standing in most polling.

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