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Republican Bob Hugin announces his candidacy for the Republican nomination for United States Senator at the Elks Lodge in Springfield on February 13, 2018 (FILE PHOTO)

Hugin enters U.S. Senate race

By David Wildstein, February 13 2018 11:08 am

Businessman Bob Hugin is now officially a candidate for the U.S. Senate, launching his campaign this morning with a shot at incumbent Bob Menendez’s ethics.

Hugin is expected to be the Republican organization candidate for the Senate seat.  GOP State Chairman Douglas Steinhardt and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton) were among a group of Republican elite that attended his announcement.  Several key county chairs attended a reception at Hugin’s Summit home last night.

One rival, Richard Pezzullo, said he would drop out if Hugin gets in.  Businessman Brian Goldberg and attorney Dana Wefer are also competing for the nomination.

The 63-year-old executive chairman of Celgene, a major pharmaceutical and biotech company in New Jersey, has never run for office before.  But he’s been a major donor to Republican candidates for more than a decade and was a top contributor to Gov. Chris Christie and Donald Trump in their presidential campaigns.

Hugin grew up in Union City, Menendez’s hometown.  They both graduated high school in 1972.  Menendez went to Union Hill High School, while Hugin was across town at Emerson High School.  He attended Princeton University, then spent seven years in the U.S. Marine Corps before getting his MBA at the University of Virginia.   He worked as an investment banker for J.P. Morgan & Co. for fourteen years.

He joined Celgene Corporation, a biotechnology and pharmaceutical company, as CFO in 1999.  He was CEO from 2006 to 2010, and Chairman from 2010 to 2016.   He just retired as the Executive Chairman.  Hugin earned $22.5 million there in 2016.  Forbes estimates the value of his Celgene stock at $33.9 million.   In July 2017, Celgene paid $280 million to settle claims that it marketed cancer drugs for uses that were not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  One of the drugs, Revlimid, brought in over $7 billion in revenues.

Hugin was once a Menendez supporter, contributing $4,800 to the Senator’s 2012 re-election campaign.  He is also a contributor to the Celgene Corporation PAC, which has already contributed $5,000 to Menendez’s 2018 re-election campaign.

He 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 heading up Hugin’s campaign.  Hugin alsi 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 also contributed directly to twenty state parties across the country.  He was on a finance committee to raise money for Trump’s transition team.

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