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Rob Menendez, Embattled Senator’s Son, Fights in Close New Jersey Race

U.S.Rob Menendez, Embattled Senator’s Son, Fights in Close New Jersey Race

Good evening! All eyes have been on the hush-money trial of former President Donald Trump in Manhattan, and the question on everyone’s mind is how his guilty verdict might shape the November election. But there’s another trial taking place in Manhattan that has already turned politics upside down — at least, in New Jersey.

I asked my colleague Tracey Tully, The New York Times’s indomitable New Jersey correspondent, to tell us more. — Jess Bidgood

Representative Rob Menendez of New Jersey, a Democrat who is named for his father, the state’s embattled senior senator, Robert Menendez, should have been a shoo-in for re-election to a second term. Instead, on the eve of his primary on Tuesday, he’s fighting for political survival.

Menendez’s close race, like his rapid rise to office, has everything to do with his last name.

As the son campaigns in New Jersey’s Eighth Congressional District, which contains swaths of Hoboken and Jersey City, his father has been generating headlines on the other side of the Hudson River, in Manhattan, where he is on trial for the second time, accused of accepting bribes.

The congressman’s chief rival is Ravi Bhalla, the mayor of Hoboken, who has tried to shape the primary into a referendum on patronage, corruption and the corrosive influence of machine politics. Internal polls show the contest to be a virtual tie.

And the elder Menendez’s decision to seek a spot on the ballot this fall despite his troubles — a move that echoes Donald Trump’s decision to run for president despite his own legal travails — could complicate his son’s path back to office even more.

Senator Menendez said two months ago that he would not run for the Democratic nomination for the seat he has held for 18 years, sparing voters the confusion of a ballot bearing both Menendezes’ names on Tuesday. But he has continued to flirt with dreams of a comeback campaign, and on Monday afternoon he filed over 2,400 nominating signatures to run for re-election in November as an independent.

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