Democrat Senator Faced With Scorn After Swap to Independent

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Senator Bob Menendez
Photo Credit: via Senator Bob Menendez

Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) officially filed to run for reelection as an independent candidate amid his ongoing legal woes for federal bribery.

In March, Menendez had declared he would not pursue the Democratic nomination for his Senate seat, but he left the option open for an independent run, which he moved forward with on Monday.

Menendez submitted his paperwork for an independent campaign just ahead of New Jersey’s Tuesday deadline for candidate submissions.

The veteran senator, who maintains his innocence, faces multiple charges in a broad corruption case, where prosecutors allege he and his spouse accepted over $600,000 bribes to grant favors to three businessmen.

Prosecutors claim that Menendez used his position to sway state officials to delay or stop criminal investigations against the people who bribed him and their associates.

Since the original indictment, several more filed against Menendez, who has also been accused of acting as an agent of the Egyptian government.

Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), who announced his candidacy shortly after Menendez indicted, blasted the Senator for throwing his hat in the ring as an independent.

“Everyone knows Bob Menendez isn’t running for NJ families. He’s running for himself,” Kim tweeted on Monday.

“People are fed up with politicians putting their own personal benefit ahead of what’s right for the country. It’s beyond time for change. I’m stepping up to restore integrity back to the Senate.”

Also on Monday, Rep. Vince Fong (R-Calif.) officially took office in the House as former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) replacement for the rest of the term.

Fong recently won a special election in California’s 20th Congressional District against Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, which gives the House GOP a two-vote margin over Democrats.

He was surrounded by Members of the California delegation on the House floor on Monday night, while House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) administered his oath of office.

“I’m truly honored, humbled, and grateful to be given this opportunity by the voters to serve and be a strong voice for our region,” Fong remarked.

He also expressed gratitude to McCarthy, for working “tirelessly for decades” for his California constituents.

“I know that our concerns are very familiar with the current concerns that all of you have heard. We must do more to find solutions and deliver results,” Fong added.

He said his main priority is securing the U.S. southern border. “I think we have to work to increase the Border Patrol, we have to build physical barriers in the wall, we have to provide legal flexibility, we need to end catch and release,” he stated. “Those are the things that we can do immediately.”

He also spoke about other policy concerns that affect Californians including rising costs, jobs, and infrastructure, along with water and energy resources.

“The voters of California passed a water bond to get that funded,” Fong continued. “The federal government has allocated resources that project, but it’s the permitting process that has slowed it down.”

“And so the red tape has to be cut. And that’s one of the first things I want to work on when I hit the ground running when I go to Congress.”

Fong will occupy McCarthy’s seat until the end of the term in January. He will also run for a full two-year term in the upcoming November election, where he will face off against Boudreaux again.

The former McCarthy aide has served in the California State Assembly since 2016, representing Bakersfield’s 32nd District.

“I look forward to serving and working alongside all of you to address our nation’s challenges and to ensure that the voice of the congressional district and my neighbors [that] have entrusted me are heard every single day in these halls of Congress,” Fong said on Monday.

“We can tackle these challenges head-on and leave a better and stronger America for future generations.”

McCarthy endorsed Fong after he retired from the House this year, when he was foisted from the Speakership.

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