Independent Run Of Indicted Bob Menendez Could Spoil Democrats’ Chances In Senate Race

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez’s decision to run as an independent candidate in the midst of his federal corruption trial has the potential to spoil the chances of the state’s Democratic nominee, Andy Kim, in the upcoming senate race. Menendez, who has held the senate seat as a Democrat since 2006, filed to run as an independent, complicating matters for Kim and tightening the race for a seat that has remained blue for over half a century.

According to polling data, Kim leads Republican nominee Curtis Bashaw by nine points in a two-way race, but with Menendez included, Kim’s lead shrinks to just five points, with Menendez drawing about 6% of the voters who would otherwise support Kim. Menendez’s approval rating has suffered due to the recent indictments, with 75% of voters saying he is probably guilty and 63% believing he should resign.

The New Jersey Senate seat has been held by Democrats since 1972, but polling indicates it may be within striking distance for the GOP. Past Republican victories in New Jersey have been won by slim margins, sometimes due to the presence of a spoiler candidate. In 2009, former Republican Gov. Chris Christie won the New Jersey gubernatorial race with less than 50% of the vote because of an independent spoiler candidate.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is closely monitoring the situation in New Jersey, as the state’s senate race becomes increasingly competitive due to Menendez’s independent run and the potential for a split Democratic vote.