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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Dems’ Split Ticket in N.J. Senate Race Could Present GOP Pathway to Victory

'He’s not going to win, but he might be able to make things uncomfortable for Democrats...'

(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) Rep. Andy Kim emerged victorious in New Jersey’s Democratic primary on Tuesday, winning nearly 75% of the statewide Democratic vote, NBC News reported.

Kim will now face Republican challenger Curtis Bashaw in a state that has not elected a Republican senator in 52 years.

However, with newly independent incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez continuing to lurk in the shadows and indications of a resurgent red wave riding the coattails of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, the Democratic machine that has run the state for generations may not be enough to carry Kim to victory in the November general election, Politico reported.

Menendez, who formally announced his exit from the Democratic Party this week, is currently facing a federal trial on corruption charges.

The latest scandal for the ethically challenged former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee involves allegations that he accepted bribes in gold and cash in exchange for favorable policies toward Egypt and Qatar.

Kim told Politico it would be shocking for Menendez to reenter the race as an independent after the conclusion of the July trial, for which the senator continues to maintain his innocence.

“He’s been in politics long enough to know he’s not going to win this race,” Kim said. “I’m guessing that a lot of this is just really about his own self preservation right now in court.”

Nonetheless, the prospect of a three-way race, with Menendez splitting the Democratic ticket, would also open the door for a potential Republican victory.

Thus far, the only available poll on a Bashaw–Kim matchup appears to be an April 15 analysis from Farleigh Dickinson University that showed Kim with a 9 point advantage. That lead, however, “is cut almost in half” when Menendez is added into the mix.

“Despite all of his legal problems, Menendez still has a base, and if he’s on the ballot, that base is going to come out for him,” said FDU Prof. Dan Cassino, the director of the poll. “He’s not going to win, but he might be able to make things uncomfortable for Democrats.”

Moreover, the record-breaking attendance at a recent Trump rallyon the Jersey shore—which drew an estimated crowd of 80,000 to 100,000—suggests that the Republican base in the state could be energized with or without a spoiler candidate in the race.

“As you can see today, we’re expanding the electoral map,” Trump told the crowd. “We’re going to win the state of New Jersey.”

The shifting tide in the Garden State was evident even in 2021, when GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciatterelli came tantalizingly close to upending incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy amid backlash over the state’s draconian COVID policies.

Ciatterelli recently announced his plans to run again in next year’s race for governor. Headline USA reached out to him for comment and will update with any response.

Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.

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