Bob Hugin was understandably pleased with the Cook Political Report changing the rating for his race against Sen. Bob Menendez from one that leaned Democrat to a toss-up.
“The momentum in this campaign grows stronger every day because the people of New Jersey know we deserve better,” Hugin said in a release. “After 25 years of Washington failing to deliver for New Jersey, it’s time for our state to have an independent leader who will put people above party and politics.”
Though the most recent public polls have shown Menendez with a lead within the margin of error.
Three polls conducted last week had the senator up by an average of seven points over Hugin, but despite those results the Senate Majority PAC has been pumping millions into the race – including a $3 million ad buy this week – suggesting that internal polling doesn’t show the senator with as comfortable a margin.
Cook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy told the New Jersey Globe that the spending was a large part of reason for the rating change, though she still considered Menendez the race’s frontrunner, just not by enough to leave the rating leaning in the Democrat’s favor.
“There is certainly a thumb on the scale for Menendez, who is said to have a lead of between four and six points, in this very blue state,” Duffy wrote in the post announcing the rating change. “But the race is close enough to warrant a move to Toss Up.”
Though Menendez communications director Steve Sandberg said his camp wasn’t worried about the change, the senator had little to say about the change himself.
“No, but I know you do,” Menendez said with a laugh when asked if he had any thoughts on the ratings change.