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⭕ U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez's troubles are impacting his son's political career

⭕ Hoboken Mayor will challenge Rob Menendez for congressional seat

⭕ Campaign splits Hudson County Democrats

The corruption indictment of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and his plunging polling numbers have sent shockwaves through the Hudson County Democratic political machine.

Fallout has now reached Menendez's son, U.S. Rep. Robert Menendez, Jr., who is seeking reelection to Congress in New Jersey's 8th District.

Rep. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., left, sits with his father Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J
AP Photo

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced a primary challenge against the younger Menendez on Tuesday.

"I believe that America is better than the demagogues who seek to divide us or the politicians who strive only to serve themselves," Bhalla said in a statement posted on X announcing his run. As Bhalla speaks those words in a video launching his campaign, images of both Bob and Robert Menendez, Jr. are shown on the screen.

The mayor touted what he said was his clean up of "a city suffering from graft and mismanagement."

via Ravi Bhalla, Mayor-Elect of Hoboken on Facebook
via Ravi Bhalla, Mayor of Hoboken on Facebook

Rob Menendez, Jr. was believed to be on firm footing heading into his reelection bid until the bombshell indictment of his father and allegations the elder Menendez was acting as the agent of a foreign government.

While the Hudson County Democratic organization has abandoned U.S. Sen. Menendez in support of First Lady Tammy Murphy for his seat, they did throw their support behind his son for Congress.

The notable exception was Bhalla, which led many to believe he would mount a challenge.

U.S. Rep. Menendez welcomed Bhalla to the contest, but threw sharp criticisms his way.

"It seems the only reason Ravi has entered the race after endorsing me in 2022 and publicly applauding our work this year is because a week after losing control of the city council, he sees no political future for himself in Hoboken," Menendez said in a statement.

Bhalla focuses on his heritage and progressive policies

"I believe in the idea of America that my parents came to with seven dollars to their names and dreams that anything was possible," Bhalla said in a campaign video. "Where an immigrant story is the American story, and where this Jersey kid can be proud to raise some Jersey kids of his own – to work towards a brighter future for them and for you."

City of Hoboken
City of Hoboken

Bhalla also touted issues that appeal to the more progressive Democratic voters.

"With rising inequality and climbing sea levels, this moment requires change that is momentous. I believe that health care is a human right. Housing is a human right. Reproductive rights are human rights. The climate crisis is not a predetermined catastrophe, but a challenge we can and must meet," Bhalla said in his campaign video.

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