NJ Politics Digest: Here’s What Tuesday’s Vote Means for Menendez Come November

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

If incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez thought winning Tuesday’s Democratic primary would mean smooth sailing to a victory in November’s general election, the results prove that’s wrong.

That’s because Menendez’s 62 percent to 38 percent victory over little-known challenger Lisa McCormick didn’t solidify Menendez’s standing as a strong standard-bearer for state Democrats. Instead, the veteran legislator emerged from the victory scarred and faced with questions about how he will perform against a well-financed campaign by Republican Bob Hugin, who is already running ads reminding voters of Menendez’s federal criminal corruption trial and subsequent admonishment by the Senate ethics committee.

In most years, Menendez should have easily rolled over McCormick, a Union County activist who ran a shoe-string campaign.

But the fact that the challenger did so well showed that while the state’s Democratic leadership has voiced its support for Menendez, rank-and-file voters aren’t willing to forgive and forget his ethics issues.

Of course, those voters—and other New Jersey residents unhappy with President Donald Trump—might rally around the Democrat when the other alternative is voting for Hugin. But after Tuesday’s vote, it appears Menendez can’t count on a wave of anti-Trump, pro-Democratic enthusiasm to carry him to victory over Hugin.

Quote of the Day: “It was obviously a protest vote against having a nominee who they aren’t thrilled with.” — Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray, on Lisa McCormick’s showing against Sen. Bob Menendez in the Democratic primary.

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NJ Politics Digest: Here’s What Tuesday’s Vote Means for Menendez Come November