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Former Celgene Executive Chairman Bob Hugin

Menendez to face Hugin in U.S. Senate race

Dem primary results show federal trial took a toll on two-term Senator

By David Wildstein, June 06 2018 6:05 am

New Jersey Republicans gave Bob Hugin a landslide victory in the U.S. Senate primary, but two-term incumbent Bob Menendez won the Democratic primary with an unimpressive 62% of the vote against an unknown candidate with no money or organizational support.

Hugin, the retired CEO of pharmaceutical giant Celgene, defeated Brian Goldberg by a 75%-25% margin, carrying all 21 New Jersey counties in his first bid for public office.  The only place that was close was Sussex, where Hugin won 53% of the vote.

The bigger story of the night was Menendez, whose win was just slightly higher than Frank Lautenberg in 2008 in a competitive primary against nine-term Rep. Rob Andrews.  The results show that Menendez has not yet recovered from his federal corruption trial last year and has some work to do to shore up his Democratic base before November.

In his political base, Hudson County, Menendez did well — 77%.  The same in Essex County, where he finished with 73%.  Bergen gave him a 71% win and Passaic was at 68%.

But as he moved west and south, Menendez’s was less than stellar.  He got 65% in Union, and 60% in Middlesex and Mercer.  Monmouth as at 56% and Ocean at 57%.  Morris County was 56%.

Menendez pulled 60% in Burlington and Atlantic, 56% in Camden, and 55% in Cumberland.  In Gloucester, he won by just 18 votes.  The real shocker was that McCormick carried six counties: Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, Somerset, Salem and Cape May.

In a way, Lisa McCormick was Menendez’s worst nightmare.  Because she had no name identification and no money, she became merely just a name where Democrats could go to express some frustration with their Senator; it’s the first-time voters had the chance to speak since allegations against Menendez began to find their way into public view six years ago.

Had Menendez’s opponent been more substantive or better financed, he might have mounted a more aggressive campaign among Democratic primary voters.  It appears that the Senator’s calculation was to take a hit in the primary to save his financial resources for the general election.

Menendez needed to decide if he wanted to spend money defining McCormick or Hugin.  If Menendez had told primary voters more about his unknown opponent, Democrats may have been less likely to cast their ballots for her.

Democrats says that Hugin spent millions on TV ads attacking Menendez and that nearly twice as many Democrats voted in the primary than Republicans.  In an email last night, the Menendez campaign said that they’ll use the general election to link Hugin to President Donald Trump and tell voters more about the big pharma.

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2 thoughts on “Menendez to face Hugin in U.S. Senate race

  1. I keep hearing all this about these voters will “come home” in November. They won’t. A lot of them know the NJ Democratic Party can put a less ethically-challenged person in the Senate seat but they refuse to. Look at the map of counties where Menendez tanked. Its all the counties that both powered Christie’s win in 2009 and some of them are where new voters are coming into the party with Mikie Sherill etc. Either way Menendez is a bad fit and they will skip him in November. There will be plenty of Hugin-Van Drew and Hugin-Sherill voters.

  2. What makes you think Lisa McCormick had no name identification just because she ran a campaign with almost no money?

    Lisa McCormick earned more votes than either Jim Johnson or John Wisniewski, who each spent millions last year in unsuccessful campaigns for governor. Lisa McCormick got six times the number of votes cast in 2017 for Senator Ray Lesniak, who came in 4th in the primary for governor.

    Lisa McCormick earned more votes than the combined total of Frank Pallone, Rush Holt and Sheila Oliver in the last contested US Senate primary. She got more votes than Governor Jon Corzine received in the 2009 primary.

    All this was possible because Lisa McCormick waged a high;y focused effort over a period of two years or more. She is a ground breaking leader in a movement that is sweeping the nations in response to rampant government corruption, a economic policy that is failing to distribute results for most citizens and an ill-conceived militaristic approach to foreign policy that contradicts American values. The surprise is not that Lisa McCormick got 159,998 votes. The shock is that she lost.

    If Lisa McCormick was an unknown without a message or vision, tens of thousands of New Jersey Democrats would have stayed home instead of coming out to the polls and voting for her. Saying otherwise fits a neatly packaged narrative that allows major media outlets, pollsters and pundits off the hook for missing what could have been a sleeper story. Instead of acknowledging that press releases and policy statements were ignored, you can say Lisa lacked substance but she talked about restraining the president’s authority to launch nuclear weapons, taking drastic action to curb climate change, instituting a Medicare for All program and significantly raising tax rates on the richest people in society. She declared that Reaganomics has been a massive failure and said we should return to a Democratic New Deal for the 21st Century based on Keynesian economics.

    Lisa McCormick made a campaign issue of the fact that the smartest people on the planet predict that humanity is on the verge of self-destruction. She said the massive inequality we are experiencing is the result of a deliberate set of political choices. She identified money in politics as a significant factor contributing to the advancement of policies that are both detrimental to the vast majority of Americans and opposite to our professed values of truth, justice and the American way — then she waged a campaign that prioritized getting people to talk to one another instead of just raising cash, or as they say by putting her money where her mouth is.

    She spoke out against war, particularly the US support for Saudi bombing in Yemen and excessive Israeli military force against Palestinian protesters, as well as the massive Pentagon budget increase that was supported by Bob Menendez and Cory Booker. She has been critical of Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham and Chris Christie, but Republicans have not been the only leaders subjected to her scrutiny. Lisa McCormick has called out Democrats for behaving like Republicans, including Phil Murphy, Steve Sweeney, Joe DiVincenzo, Josh Gottheimer, Albio Sires and Donald Payne Jr. She has even had the courage to call out voters who do not take responsibility for their duty as citizens.

    The folks at Demand Universal Healthcare (DUH) said Lisa McCormick’s position on abortion and reproductive rights is one of the most courageous they have seen. The Jersey Journal said Lisa McCormick ‘out-progressives’ Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Only observers who had almost nothing to say while she was campaigning suggest that Lisa McCormick lacks substance, as if casting such aspersions on any adult woman is acceptable.

    It is true that Lisa McCormick garnered a lot of votes without spending a lot of money but it is a flat out lie to deny her substantive, honest and bold platform. Show us a poll that tested her name recognition before asserting that she is unknown because your ignorance or neglect is not the same thing.

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