Legal Trouble for Senator Bob Menendez May Hurt Dems: The Kiplinger Letter

Menendez stepped down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but contends he will run for reelection in 2024.

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The legal woes of Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) could hurt Democrats in both the Senate and the House. Menendez has stepped down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but has otherwise refused to budge and insists he is running for reelection in 2024. 

Menendez and his wife, Nadine, were indicted on charges that they conspired to act as foreign agents for Egypt. They are accused of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” in exchange for the senator’s influence. Menendez was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time of the alleged actions.

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As long as Menendez sticks to his plan to run for reelection, he will likely struggle on the campaign trail, as was the case in 2018, when he notably underperformed despite the failure of an earlier corruption case. He will also force other Democratic candidates to answer for his conduct, which is not an ideal situation, as the party defends its razor-thin majority in the chamber.

Plus, resistance to Menendez could open up a competitive House seat. Representative Andy Kim (D-NJ) has filed to challenge Menendez in the primary, which would help Democrats skirt the problems of Menendez’s reelection campaign. Kim’s district — the 3rd district of New Jersey — got significantly bluer during the last round of redistricting. But this district has historically leaned Republican and might be within reach if the GOP is poised to do as well as current polling suggests. The GOP hopes to shore up its nine-seat majority in the chamber in next year’s elections.

This forecast first appeared in The Kiplinger Letter, which has been running since 1923 and is a collection of concise weekly forecasts on business and economic trends, as well as what to expect from Washington, to help you understand what’s coming up to make the most of your investments and your money. Subscribe to The Kiplinger Letter.

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Sean Lengell
Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter

Sean Lengell covers Congress and government policy for The Kiplinger Letter. Before joining Kiplinger in January 2017 he served as a congressional reporter for eight years with the Washington Examiner and the Washington Times. He previously covered local news for the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune. A native of northern Illinois who spent much of his youth in St. Petersburg, Fla., he holds a bachelor's degree in English from Marquette University.