A top independent analyst says that Bob Menendez remains favored to win re-election, but must still deal with the effects of the now-dismissed corruption charges that have affected his approval ratings.
Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia said that “Menendez should benefit from the midterm political environment.”
“If Hillary Clinton were president, we would view this race differently,” Kondik and Skelley wrote.
The analysis said that a loss by Menendez could not be completely ruled out, even in a state that has not elected a Republican U.S. Senator in nearly 46 years.
“The stench of corruption will hang over the incumbent throughout the campaign,” the analysts said.
Kondik and Skelley pointed out that New Jersey Democrats “remained solidly behind Menendez” and that “a primary loss seems unlikely in a state where county and state political parties hold a lot of sway.”
Retired Celgene chairman Bob Hugin is expected to be the Republican organization choice for the nomination, but the likely self-funder has not yet announced his candidacy.
“We will keep an eye on this race to see if the GOP can truly put it into play, but for now it remains Likely Democratic,” wrote the Sabato’s Crystal Ball team.