Looking to boost Menendez, Booker headlines GOTV rallies in Hoboken and Jersey City

Looking to boost Menendez, Booker headlines GOTV rallies in Hoboken and Jersey City
Poll: Menendez leads GOP challenger by 15 points in NJ Senate race | TheHill
Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez led Republican rival Bob Hugin by 15 percentage points among likely voters in a poll released a day before New Jersey voters go to the polls.

Menendez was ahead of Hugin, a former Celgene Corp. executive, 55 percent to 40 percent in a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

It was the second straight survey to give him a double-digit lead after several polls showed a tight race. A Stockton University poll released Friday had Menendez ahead, 51 percent to 39 percent. Menendez never trailed in any survey.

One of New Jerseys two seats in the U.S. Senate is up for grabs. Menendez, the Democrat who has held the post since 2006, is seeking a third full term. Hugin, the Republican nominee, is a retired pharmaceutical executive who has never run for office before. There are also six third-party or independent candidates.

Quinnipiac polling analyst Mary Snow said voters antipathy to Republican President Donald Trump fueled Menendezs campaign.

Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University in 1976. Masters degree in business administration from the University of Virginia in 1985. After his time at Princeton, Hugin served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an active duty infantry officer from 1976 to 1983. 

“While they may hold their nose to cast a ballot for Sen. Bob Menendez, voters signal they want to keep New Jerseys Senate seat in the D column in a blue state where President Donald Trump consistently remains unpopular,” Snow said. 

Then, theres the handful of tight U.S. House races that could help decide whether Democrats across the nation ride a “blue wave” to take over Congress lower chamber or if the Trump-led GOP keeps control.

Even as both candidates crisscrossed the state in the final days, the poll said 95 percent of Menendezs supporters and 92 percent of Hugins had made up their minds and would not be swayed.

Occupation: He retired as the CEO of Summit-based Celgene Corp., a pharmaceutical company, in 2017. He previously worked for JPMorgan Chase & Co.. This is his first time running for elected office.

Earlier surveys indicated disapproval with the senator, who was rebuked by the Senate Ethics Committee for intervening with federal agencies on behalf of Dr. Salomon Melgen, while receiving gifts and trips from his friend and campaign donor.

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Hugin pumped $36 million of his money into the race, most of it on negative ads reminding voters of Menendezs foibles. But in a Democratic state where just 37 percent of likely voters in the Stockton poll viewed Trumps job performance as good or excellent, party loyalty appeared to have triumphed.

“They wanted to weaken [Governor Phil] Murphy,” the source argued. “their thought was, ‘Menendez is weak, we can take Hugin out later’; but the main effort was to weaken Murphy as the titular head of the party. They wanted to be able to say, ‘Look at this guy, he can’t even protect a U.S. Senator.’

For his part, Menendez sought to link Hugin to Trump, a fellow Republican who he contributed $200,000 during the 2016 election to help him get elected. 

It was a veteran point of view, one that didn’t accommodate the fact it was, after all, Lisa McCormick who ran off the line against Menendez in the Democratic Primary and harvested nearly 40% of the vote; or Menendez’s own peculiar challenge as the survivor of a corruption trial.

The poll of 1,115 New Jersey likely voters was conducted Oct. 29-Nov. 4 and had a margin of error of 4 percentage points. 

But the source spoke as one alert to the potential of a primary split between Murphy and the party establishment amid a blame game, with Menendez symbolic of weakened power.

Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at jsalant@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JDSalant or on Facebook. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.

“Trump just became too much for everyone to bear,” the source said. “Trump made it impossible for these guys to take the walk they wanted to.”

If there’s one dark horse race to watch tomorrow night, it’s New Jersey’s Senate race. Yes, it’s a deep blue state. Yes, we’ve heard this before back in 2006 (sort of) when Republican Tom Kean, Jr. ran and lost against then-Rep. Bob Menendez. It was a bad year for Republicans. That midterm season was a killing field, and all Bob had to say was that he was going to D.C. to say “no” to George Bush. Flash forward to today, Bob Menendez’s popularity is in the toilet, Democratic enthusiasm is depressed, and all of this can be traced to his relationship with Dr. Salomon Melgen, who was recently convicted and sentenced to 17 years for health care fraud. Menendez was the center of a months-long corruption case, where he was accused of accepting lavish gifts from Melgen in exchange for using his office for political favors. The jury deadlocked on the case, and Menendez wasn't retried, though the Senate Ethics Committee ripped him a new one.

“While they may hold their nose to cast a ballot for Sen. Bob Menendez, voters signal they want to keep New Jersey’s Senate seat in the ‘D’ column in a blue state where President Donald Trump consistently remains unpopular,” said Mary Snow, a Quinnipiac polling analyst.

Republican Bob Hugin has by many accounts, including Democratic insiders following this race, run an excellent campaign. The attack ads are pervasive—and they appear to be working. It’s a much closer race than what was originally projected. And now we have internal polls that show Hugin might have eked ahead hours before voters start heading to the polls (via Washington Free Beacon):

The poll shows independent voters have broken for Menendez in recent weeks, suggesting that even some New Jersey voters who are squeamish about casting a ballot for a candidate who was tried for conspiracy and bribery charges last year would prefer that a Democrat hold the seat. 

Hugin told the Washington Free Beacon at a get out the vote rally in Colts Neck, N.J., over the weekend that his latest internal polling shows he is up "a couple of points" over Menendez. He also said he started strong and plans on finishing strong.

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When asked how he's feeling about the race, Hugin said, "I feel good," then he added, "but you can't take anything for granted." He had numerous rallies on his schedule throughout the state in the countdown to what he says will be a victory for him and the residents of New Jersey.

Menendez has widened his lead as Election Day approaches. An October 17 survey found Menendez held just a seven point advantage. Mendendez now outpaces Hugin 55 percent to 40 percent on the eve of Election Day.

"We're a couple of days away from victory," Hugin told the crowed gathered at Saturday's rally. "The people of New Jersey deserve better because this guy has embarrassed us. Twenty-five years, and he's failed us ethically and failed the people of New Jersey."

"I am a leader and have been one my whole life," said Hugin. He told the crowd, "it will be about getting the vote out."

"Thank you for what you've done to get us here. Let's get this ball over the goal line. We're at the five-yard line, we're going to push it over," Hugin said, and the crowd cheered.

Lisa McCormick, who earned nearly 40% of the vote in her Democratic Primary challenge to U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), this morning sent an email blast to her supporters urging them to back the straight Democratic ticket – with two exceptions.

Frank Goodline of Colts Neck, said he came to hear Hugin speak and is "really hopeful" he will represent New Jersey in D.C. "I like his demeanor. I'm resentful that the Democratic senators don't represent my values. Menendez and Booker do not represent most New Jerseyans," he said.

“Maybe you are sick of choosing the lesser of two evils, but right now the Trump Republicans are much worse,” McCormick wrote. 

One couple at the rally were taking Bob Hugin signs and planned on working diligently to get Hugin elected. Dalila Malave of Howell said she and her husband believed Hugin would represent them better than Menendez.

The 2018 senate candidate said she plans to vote straight the straight Democratic ticket – almost. She offered this caveat:

 "Hugin is a great man. We trust him that he will do the right thing," said Malave. "We need an honorable person to represent us. We're tired of Menendez's corruption. He got away with it even though he was guilty."

Democrats had to dump an additional $3 million to help buoy Bob’s lackluster performance in this reliable Democratic state. Should Hugin win tomorrow, he’d be the first Republican elected from the Garden State since 1972. We’ll have another post about how Jersey Democrats are indeed freaking out over sagging Menendez in the closing days of this race later this afternoon.

Posted in Jersey City