It appears that the New Jersey Senate race between incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez and his opponent Bob Hugin is a toss up, according to a recent The Cook Political Report analysis.
The latest report, published Friday, says the toss up is due in part to Democrat Menendez’ alleged ethics problems and Hugin’s outspending his opponent in political television ads.
Hugin, a Republican and former pharmaceutical CEO, has outspent Menendez $27.7 million to $11.8 million, according to the pre-election FEC report, and most of Hugin’s money has funded television ads, The Cook Political Report says.
Hugin has poured millions of dollars into ads attacking Menendez over his 2017 corruption trial. Menendez denied wrongdoing in the bribery case and the trial ended in a mistrial. Prosecutors dropped the charges.
The Senate Majority PAC, which is the Democrats’ Senate super PAC, has now invested almost $6.5 million in the race, including a $3 million advertising buy this week alone. The investment “levels the playing field somewhat, but Hugin still holds a very definitive advantage on television,” the report says.
The analysis determined that the biggest threat to Menendez’s re-election is not Hugin, but rather the voter who goes to the polls and decides to send Menendez a message in the same way that many did during the primary when 38 percent voted for his unknown primary opponent.
Though it seems the scale is tipping in favor of Menendez, who is said to have a lead of between four and six points, The Cook Political Report says that the race is close enough to warrant a move to a toss up in New Jersey, which tends to be a blue state.