Signaling 2018 intentions in absolute defiance of a tough luck under-indictment story line, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) will have his annual Meadowlands campaign fundraiser in May with special guest Yankees bulldog Lou Pinella.
The $2,700-per head event is scheduled for Friday, May 13th, according to the invite (see the attachment below). In past years, the senator has raised upwards of half a million dollars in one night.
Fighting corruption charges, Menendez has staked his political career on loyalty, forging relationships with core people of influence who behind the scenes continue to be very supportive of the senator, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Menendez’s loyalty extends to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s likely nominee for president, whom the senator strongly pushed for in 2008 in the face of Barack Obama’s ultimately successful insurgency. A Democratic source said the trial strategy for Menendez includes delay tactics aimed at stretching key dates into next year, when his allies pray Clinton will be president and her administration in position to remember an old friend.
They like his chances to beat the charges anyway, but see atmospheric advantages to having a Clinton White House. “It can’t hurt,” an insider said hopefully.
Certainly numerous public policy positions put Menendez at odds with Obama, but divisions occurred even before Obama assumed the oath of office.
The pair started out on uncomfortable footing as members of opposing teams in that brutal primary eight years ago, bad blood compounded by a meeting in Denver that soured Menendez on a reportedly aloof-acting Obama. Then came their divergent views, culminating in Menendez’s opposition to the president’s Iran nuclear deal and the president’s plan to normalize relations with Cuba.
The senator’s hard-line pro-Israel stance and leading-voice resistance to the Iran deal strengthened his already close ties to top fundraisers, reaffirming his political value – particularly with U.S. Senator Cory Booker voting for the Iran deal – to influential members of the Jewish community.
In any event, Menendez’s scheduled fundraiser next month asserts his intention to run again.
His 2006 race against State Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. was one of the most divisive in recent statewide elections, where Menendez defeated Kean by nearly 10 points in a year of major Bush fatigue, despite millions of dollars in negative campaign ads spent against Menendez. In 2012, Menendez took nothing for granted in his race against Joe Kyrillos. Kyrillos actually won more votes in the presidential year than either Menendez or Kean had received in 2006, even as the popular state senator saw his Monmouth base suppressed by Superstorm Sandy. Still, Menendez was able to ride the wave of Obama’s re-election and notch a 19-point win.