Businessman Bob Hugin, who is expected to enter the race for United States Senator, is among the four candidates to file letters of intent with the Bergen County Republican Organization — meeting the February 1 filing deadline to compete for the organization line.
Celgene announced Hugin’s retirement from the pharmaceutical and bio-tech company last week, paving the way for his self-financed campaign against Democrat Bob Menendez. He has already met with many Republican County Chairmen and is widely considered the front runner for the GOP nomination, even though he has not get entered the race.
Already seeking the seat: conservative small businessman Richard Pezzullo, progressive ex-Democrat Dana Wefer, and software engineer Hirsh Singh. All three have sought statewide office before: Pezzullo has run as an independent and ran for in the 2014 GOP U.S. Senate primary; Wefer briefly sought the Republican nomination for Governor in 2017, but did not file; and Singh won 10% in that gubernatorial primary.
Hugin is close to Gov. Chris Christie. He contributed $250,000 to Christie’s super PAC, $2,700 to Christie’s presidential campaign and $5,000 to the Leadership Matters for America PAC. Christie’s best friend, Republican National Committeeman Bill Palatucci, is advising Hugin through his exploratory process. He also has has strong ties to President Donald Trump. He was a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention, gave $100,000 to a super PAC backing Trump, $5,200 directly to the Trump campaigns, and $150,000 to the Republican National Committee in the 2016 cycle. He was on a finance committee to raise money for Trump’s transition team.