Democratic primary candidate Bob Menendez of New Jersey has decided not to run.

TRENTON— New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez announced Thursday he won't run in the Democratic primary due to federal corruption accusations, but he might run as an independent later this year if a trial clears him.

The June 4 Democratic primary, which Rep. Andy Kim and New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy are contesting, just four days away when Menendez announced his candidacy. The nearly 10-minute film shows Menendez advocating for Superstorm Sandy and COVID-19 assistance for his state during his decades in Congress.

In a social media video, he stated, “The present accusations I am facing of which I am innocent and will prove so will not allow me to have that type of dialogue and debate with political opponents.” You deserve to hear from potential representatives about their plans for you and your families. Thus, I will not run for Democratic in June.”Tendez hopes to be exonerated at trial and run as a “independent Democrat” in the general election.

Menendez, his wife Nadine, and three business partners are fighting federal bribery charges.Three New Jersey businessmen bribed Menendez and his spouse with gold bars, cash, and a Mercedes-Benz to get the senator's aid with their projects. Prosecutors say Menendez helped one of the men acquire a lucrative meat-certification agreement with Egypt in exchange for the haul. Menendez helped another colleague land a Qatari investment fund transaction, according to another indictment.

Senator, wife, and two business associates have denied wrongdoing. One business associate has pleaded guilty and will testify. Murphy and Kim will run for the Democratic nomination in a strong blue state that hasn't elected a Republican senator since 1972 after Menendez's withdrawal.

Powerful party officials support Murphy, a first-time candidate. Kim, a three-term congressman, has focused his campaign on changing the state's ballot design, which favors county party politicians. Kim wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that “I will win in November even if I have to beat Menendez and a Republican simultaneously.”

Murphy posted on X that New Jersey needs a senator that addresses family issues. Sen. Menendez prioritizes himself over New Jerseyans and the Democratic Party. No senatorial position should be granted to him, she argued. The stakes are high as Democrats fight for Senate control.

The Republican primary features southern New Jersey businessman Curtis Bashaw, Mendham Borough Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner, and former TV news reporter Alex Zdan. All levels of state government have elected Menendez, who is serving his third full term in the Senate. His status among Democrats survived a hung jury in a federal corruption prosecution and got him reelected in 2018 with party support.

Once the Justice Department's case was revealed, Democrats demanded his resignation. Kim launched his campaign September following the first indictment. In his over-nine-minute video, Menendez mixed defiance with conciliation on the indictment.

His words: “I know many of you are hurt and disappointed in me with the accusations I'm facing. Yes, I'm disappointed about the bogus accusations. Please delay judgment till justice is done. A lawyer and son of Cuban immigrants, Menendez became mayor of Union City, New Jersey, where he still has significant ties, after serving on the school board at 20.

According to his biography, he testified against Union City authorities early in his political career to battle corruption and develop a harsh reputation. After the Assembly, he went to the Senate and finally the U.S. House. Menendez became a senator in 2006 when Jon Corzine, the incumbent, elected governor.

In 2006, 2012, and 2018, he won outright. The 2013 indictment cost him his position as Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair. After federal prosecutors dropped charges in that mistrial, he was reinstated. He was indicted again in 2023 and lost that position.

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