U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has refused to step down in the wake of a federal indictment on bribery charges, despite calls from some in his own party to do so.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges in September, but he continues to face growing opposition to his bid for another term — including in the form of a Democratic primary challenge from the state’s first lady.
Tammy Murphy, the wife of Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, announced her candidacy with a campaign video she released online this week, appealing to voters with a platform that prioritizes environmental protection and other popular progressive causes.
“We need a senator who will work every single day to lower the cost of living, protect abortion rights, end the gun violence epidemic and defend our democracy,” she declared.
While Murphy did not directly address the criminal charges against the incumbent candidate, Menendez did make a cameo in her campaign video as she referenced the perceived problems with the current crop of D.C. lawmakers.
“Right now, Washington is filled with too many people who are more interested in getting rich or getting on camera than getting things done for you,” she said.
Until relatively recently, Murphy was a member of the GOP, which, along with her dearth of direct political experience, could hurt her chances against more established candidates. Nevertheless, she could attract some support from the identity-politics wing of her party since she would be the first female senator to represent the state if she is elected next year.
Another Democrat — U.S. Rep Andy Kim — has also entered the primary race and others might throw their hats into the ring as Menendez continues to be seen as a vulnerable and problematic candidate.
Gov. Murphy was among the high-profile Democrats who publicly urged Menendez to resign in the immediate aftermath of the charges.
“Under our legal system, Senator Menendez and the other defendants have not been found guilty and will have the ability to present evidence disputing these charges, and we must respect the process,” he said in a statement. “However, the alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state. Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation.”