Campaign ads against the 'other guy' in N.J. Senate race say it all

Steve Tawa
November 06, 2018 - 4:00 am
Senators Bob Menendez and Bog Hugin

David Madden | KYW Newsradio

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NEW JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — By most accounts, the New Jersey Senate race between Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez and Republican challenger Bob Hugin is unexpectedly close. While Menendez's lead was just single digits two weeks ago, the latest Quinnipiac Poll has him opening it up to 15 points. 

Both Menendez and Hugin have plenty of mud to scrape off after slinging so much of it at their opponent. 

Take their campaign ads. 

Menendez called Hugin, a former pharmaceutical executive, a "greedy CEO." 

"Bob Hugin said the more people needed a cancer drug, the more he should charge," it said. 

The self-funded Hugin ($36 million plus and counting) put out the suggestion that Menendez had sexual contact with underage females, with an ad that said "...Sex with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic." 

The allegations did not surface during Menendez's corruption trial. Menendez avoided a conviction when a mistrial was declared.

On the campaign trail, Hugin walked back from outright support of President Trump, referring to himself as an "independent Republican." 

Lately, he also disagreed with the president on his recent proposal to put an end to birthright citizenship. Hugin says Donald Trump's rhetoric on immigration has been inflammatory, adding we're "a nation of immigrants, made better by a diversity of its people."

But Hugin donated to Mr. Trump's campaign and was a Trump delegate at the Republican convention. 

Despite his ethical baggage, Menendez has seen heavyweight Democrats campaign for him and money flow his way in what is generally a reliably blue state. Democratic party leaders have moved to overdrive mode to preserve Menendez’s seat, and their long-shot aim of a Senate majority. 

Poll watchers say a suppressed turnout could help Hugin, but New Jersey hasn't sent a Republican to the Senate since 1972.

The headline from the editorial board at New Jersey's largest circulated newspaper is telling.

From The Star Ledger: "Choke it down and vote for Menendez." The paper goes on to say they're "two awful candidates whose most convincing argument is that the other guy is unfit to serve."