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New Jersey primaries: A Democrat outside the local establishment and an 'openly gay' Republican will challenge Bob Menendez's Senate seat

The son of the Democratic senator, Rob Menendez, also prevailed in his own election despite his father's prosecution.

Primarias en Nueva Jersey: un demócrata fuera del establishment local y un republicano “abiertamente gay” desafiarán el escaño de Bob Menéndez en el Senado


It was an important election day for Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey.

Before the independent candidacy of the experienced senator Bob Menendez, who is in full judgment accused of accepting bribes, obstructing justice and serving as a foreign agent, the primary elections to challenge his seat took on great importance and left the protagonists, Democratic Congressman Andy Kim and Republican Curtis Bashaw, a Cape May hotel developer.

Both will challenge Menendez's seat in November, giving interest to an electoral race that, if it were not for the independent candidacy of the incumbent accused by the government, would be a more than a safe blue seat.

Menendez's seat is profoundly democratic. According to Politico, New Jersey has not elected a Republican Senate candidate since 1972.

Likewise, it has not voted red in a presidential election since 1988.

However, this time, Republican candidate Bashaw has his chances.

First, Menendez, although unpopular in the state, could divide Democrats and take votes away from front-runner Kim, a progressive representative who challenged the New Jersey political establishment and achieved a state milestone thanks to a lawsuit in federal courts: ending the well-known "county line," that is, a design on the ballot that granted a positional privilege to candidates endorsed by the state party.

In this case, Kim managed to have the "county line" removed, affecting the career of the first lady of New Jersey, Tammy Murphy, who had obtained the support of her party but ran for office two months after Kim and was forced to abandon the race due to the favoritism of the Democratic congressman.

But Kim's victory is uncertain because he must campaign against Menendez, now an independent, and against a moderate Republican who narrowly defeated the candidate backed by former President Donald Trump, Christine Serrano Glassner, mayor of Mendham Borough, in the primary.

Bashaw is probably a one-of-a-kind political figure, ideally suited to run for a heavily Democratic seat like New Jersey. First of all, he is a moderate "outsider" Republican who, despite not receiving Trump's support, has shown his support for the former president on different occasions, which does not distance him from the Republican base.

Additionally, he has a strong reputation as a businessman in the state and might be able to attract the moderate or progressive independent vote by being an "openly gay" figure on a notably left-wing map.

Bashaw also campaigned by criticizing Democrats for inflation and border security, two of the most critical issues for voters.

So, if there's any room for New Jersey to be competitive for Republicans, it's with a candidate like Bashaw challenging a surrounded Kim.

Bob Menendez's son won his race

Another important election in New Jersey was that of Senator Bob Menendez's son, Congressman Rob Menendez, a Democrat who survived the primary challenge decisively despite his father's prosecution.

The senator's son was challenged by Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who unsuccessfully attempted to blacken Rob Menendez's name by associating him with his father's allegations.

In the end, the polls spoke, and Menendez defeated Bhalla by more than 18 percentage points.

With his victory, Rob Menendez virtually secured a second term in New Jersey's 8th Congressional District, which is heavily Democratic.

So the Menendez family, unless something truly unforeseen happens, will continue to have a representative in the United States Congress representing New Jersey.