Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) has announced he’s seeking to run in 2024 for the seat of incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).
Mr. Menendez, who is up for reelection in 2024, was recently indicted on bribery charges.
Amid mounting calls for him to resign, the senator said Friday he would not do so. However, he stepped down from his position as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“After calls to resign, Senator Menendez said ‘I am not going anywhere.’ As a result, I feel compelled to run against him. Not something I expected to do, but NJ deserves better,” Mr. Kim announced on Saturday on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity. Please join me,” he added. The X post links to an ActBlue fundraising website for Mr. Kim’s campaign.
“I grew up in New Jersey and am proud to raise my family here,” Mr. Kim said in a statement on the website. “I believe more than ever that New Jersey needs hard working, trustworthy leaders focused on the common good and injecting some integrity and civility back into our politics.
“We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity any longer.”
Since 2019, Mr. Kim has served New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, which covers suburbs to Trenton’s east. Last November, he secured his seat with a lead of over 10 percentage points.
Mr. Menendez, meanwhile, has served as a U.S. senator since 2006.
On Sept. 22, the senator and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, were charged on Sept. 22 with corruption-related offenses alongside three New Jersey businessmen.
The five each faced a charge of conspiracy to commit bribery. They were each also charged with conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.
According to charging documents, Mr. Menendez and his wife allegedly took “hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes” from three New Jersey businessmen. The bribes came in the form of cash, gold, and mortgage payments.
In exchange for the bribes, Mr. Menendez allegedly used his power to benefit the three businessmen, as well as to benefit the Egyptian government, which receives more than $1 billion from the U.S. government per year in grants and military equipment sales.
In June 2022, during a house search, the FBI found and seized about $500,000 in cash and over $100,000 in gold at the Menendez residence. Those were allegedly the payment for the bribes.
Mr. Menendez and his wife were also additionally each charged with extortion, which relates to their actions in return for accepting the alleged bribes.
This charge pertains to the alleged influence they placed on federal and state prosecutors to halt or delay particular criminal cases of their interest.
Prosecutors separately also filed a forfeiture claim in addition to the criminal charges. This claim seeks to retain the money and gifts that Mr. Menendez allegedly received as bribes.
Mr. Menendez said in a statement that the indictment contained “baseless allegations,” adding: “They wrote these charges as they wanted; the facts are not as presented. Prosecutors did that the last time and look what a trial demonstrates. People should remember that before accepting the prosecutor’s version.”
He later stated, “Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty,” adding that he would “continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I’ve had for the past five decades.”
“It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat,” he added. “I am not going anywhere.”
This is the second time Mr. Menendez has been indicted on corruption charges.
In 2015, Mr. Menendez was accused of providing political favors to an individual, Dr. Salomon Melgen, in exchange for campaign contributions, vacations, and the use of a private jet.
A 2017 trial on the matter ended in a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a decision. Mr. Menendez was then acquitted by a judge of some of the charges. Federal prosecutors dropped the rest.
In 2018, the Senate Ethics Committee determined that Mr. Menendez frequently accepted gifts like private flights and villa stays from the doctor without proper approval. He didn’t disclose these gifts, as mandated by Senate rules and federal law, the committee stated.
While accepting the gifts, Mr. Menendez used his senatorial position to favor Dr. Melgen’s personal and business interests, violating both law and Senate protocols, the committee added.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times