Menendez May Run As Independent

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said that he may run for another term in the Senate as an independent, despite an ongoing federal criminal case against him for alleged bribery. Menendez’s statement came as he retained some major positions in Congress at the direction of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The senator said that he would not file to run again as a Democrat this year. However, he said that he was “hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election.”

Menendez currently faces four different indictments for allegedly accepting hundreds of thousands in bribes.

“Unfortunately, the present accusations I am facing—of which I am innocent and will prove so—will not allow me to have political dialogue and debate with political opponents who have already made it a cornerstone of their campaign,” he said.

Menendez hoped that voters would “withhold judgment until justice takes place.”

The statement opens the door for Menendez to seek the seat as an independent.

The senator faced criticism from some fellow House Democrats, including Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), who challenged Menendez to run as an independent.

“I dare him. Go ahead. Go ahead, dude. If that sleaze ball wants to pull 7 percent, go right ahead. And that’s going to be strange trying to campaign while you’re in your trial,” said Fetterman.

The senator allegedly received payments of cash and gold in exchange for aiding the Egyptian government, according to federal investigators. A search found funds and gold in Menendez’s house. He denies all wrongdoing.

Menendez is being joined in a possible independent bid by former Rep. George Santos (R-NY), who was expelled from the House late last year.

Santos criticized the Republican Party and said that he would return to another district to run as an independent. A Democrat won the seat formerly held by Santos during the special election held earlier this year.