Asked today about his decision to endorse Robert J. Menendez, a Port Authority commissioner and the son of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, for New Jersey’s open 8th congressional district, Gov. Phil Murphy said that his endorsement of the younger Menendez was not tied to his father’s political influence.
“I happen to know Rob Menendez independent of his dad,” Murphy said. “I’m obviously a huge fan of his dad. But Rob I know on his own merits, and I’m a huge fan. They are indeed father and son, but I know them each as their own person and as their own public servant.”
Murphy went on to praise Menendez’s service on the Port Authority, which he joined in June after being nominated by the governor.
“Rob, in his early days on the Port Authority, has been an outstanding commissioner, and I’ve known him well before that as well,” Murphy said. “I’m honored to endorse him, and I think, assuming he wins, he’s going to be an outstanding representative for our state and for that district.”
With the retirement of Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) last month, the younger Menendez may already have the nomination for his seat locked down. In addition to Murphy, Menendez has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and the Hudson and Union County Democratic county parties, meaning that any potential challenger would have to run an uphill off-the-line campaign.
Murphy was also asked today about the possibility of abolishing the county line system, in which county party-endorsed candidates are given preferential placement on primary ballots, but did not address the question. While he has aligned with progressives on many other issues, Murphy won on the backs of the county lines in 2017 and 2021, and has refrained from speaking out against the system as even progressive groups fight to strike it down in court.