U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin won’t say whether or not he supports President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of State.
Incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez said this week that he would vote not to confirm Mike Pompeo, a former congressman currently serving as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cited Pompeo’s hawkishness and statements about Muslims the nominee made as a Kansas congressman to explain his position.
Liberal groups have rallied around the opposition as a way to differentiate Menendez from his challenger.
“The people of New Jersey deserve to know U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin’s position on Pompeo’s nomination,” Bluewave NJ President Marcia Marley said in a statement. “Hugin’s stance on Mr. Pompeo’s nomination will be a clear indicator of his values and how he would choose to represent our state in one of the highest offices in this country.”
Nick Iacovella, Hugin’s press secretary, turned the attack onto Menendez’s own ethics troubles.
“The fact that Bluewave NJ thinks that corrupt, career politician Bob Menendez belongs in the United States Senate, is a clear indicator of their values and how they believe New Jersey should be represented in one of the highest offices in the country,” Iacovella said.
The campaigns decision to sidestep the issue perplexed some political experts. Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University, saw the move as a wasted opportunity to energize Republicans in the state.
“Personally, I think that if he wants to appeal to the Republican base, I think it’s a very low-cost way of doing it by endorsing that nomination and saying, ‘well, this is the president’s guy, and he deserves to be confirmed,'” Baker said. “I just don’t think that there’s that much indignation about Mike Pompeo.”