Democrat Bob Menendez files to run as independent candidate for Senate

The long-time US senator is facing accusations that he and his wife funded a lavish lifestyle through a scheme linked to Egypt and Qatar

Senator Bob Menende leaves federal court in New York. Bloomberg
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US Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who is on trial on federal bribery charges in New York, has filed to run as an independent candidate for re-election.

Mr Menendez had said this year that he would not seek the Democratic nomination for a fourth term, and on Monday he filed paperwork with the state to launch an independent bid.

He listed his party in documents filed with the state as “Menendez for Senate”.

The political stakes are high, given the Democrats’ narrow control in the Senate, where New Jersey is normally safely in Democratic hands.

It is unclear how much support Mr Menendez could siphon from US Representative Andy Kim, who is in a favourable position to win the Democratic primary, which ends on Tuesday.

Republicans have not won a US Senate election in New Jersey since 1972.

The news of Mr Menendez's independent bid comes after Joe Manchin, a senator from deeply Republican West Virginia, left the Democratic Party after years of opposition to its move towards clean energy.

The long-time senator announced on Friday that he was changing his registration from Democrat to Independent, because of the “partisan extremism” plaguing the legislative branch.

Mr Menendez is embroiled in a trial in which he faces charges of bribery, with prosecutors accusing him and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, of funding a lavish lifestyle through a scheme linked to Egypt and Qatar.

Charges include claims that Mr Menendez aided the Egyptian government with military sales, financing and ghostwriting a letter on behalf of Cairo to fellow senators advocating the release of $300 million in aid.

The charges against the couple were issued by the Department of Justice in September, alongside charges against businessmen Wael Hana and Fred Daibes. All have pleaded not guilty.

Mr Menendez has held elected office for most of his life, getting on the Union City, New Jersey, school board two years out of high school. He became a US senator in 2006.

He survived politically after another federal trial – on charges that he used his office to help a friend defraud Medicare – in 2017. It ended in a deadlocked jury.

The senator did not appear on ballots for Tuesday’s primary. By filing as an independent, he is aiming for November instead.

Updated: June 03, 2024, 11:21 PM