Stunning Upset: Underdog Andy Kim Triumphs in NJ Senate Primary, to Challenge Bob Menendez

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Andy Kim, a New Jersey Representative, defeated his Democratic opponents in the state Democratic primary on Tuesday night. He will now face Senator Bob Menendez seeking reelection in November as an Independent.

Rep. Kim beat out Lawrence Hamm, Patricia Campos Medina, and other challengers to unseat Menendez. Menendez has been elected since 2006 and is currently serving his third mandate.

Menendez has been embroiled in an extortion scandal that also involves his wife Nadine. He is facing a variety of criminal charges, including conspiracy, obstruction, bribery, and acting as an agent of a foreign country.

Menendez, along with his wife, have both pleaded no contest to charges of bribery and obstruction. They are accused of accepting bribes of hundreds of thousands in cash, gold bars, and Mercedes-Benzes for various businessmen and the Egyptian Government.

Kim won the first Democratic convention in New Jersey by a wide margin, indicating that he had gained significant momentum. Murphy dropped out of the race.

Kim stated that “the energy we have is real and should not be undervalued” after securing Monmouth’s county line in February.

Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), has publicly backed Kim’s campaign to win New Jersey’s Senate primary.

Fetterman called for Menendez to be removed from Congress as soon as federal prosecutors accused him, his wife, and their business associates of accepting bribes of cash and gold in exchange for assisting the government of Egypt, and later, Qatar.

Menendez, along with the other defendants, has pleaded not-guilty and vowed to challenge the charges. Menendez, unlike the first time that he was charged — charges which ultimately resulted in a hung jury in 2017 — has lost support in the Democratic Party of his home state where his influence used to be virtually unassailable.

Kim had also filed a suit as part of his campaign for the Senate seat, claiming New Jersey’s primary election ballot design favors candidates with the support of party leaders. It should be scrapped.

In March, U.S. district judge Zahid Quraishi issued Kim a preliminary order ordering the use office block ballots in the primary election of June.

Quraishi’s opinion stated that “the integrity of a democratic process is at stake, and the remedy Plaintiffs seek is extraordinary.” He said that plaintiffs have “met their burden” and that it is a rare case where mandatory relief is justified.

Kim stated that the court victory was built on the “incredible grassroots work” of activists in our state, who saw a system that marginalized the voices of voters and worked tirelessly fix it.

“While fixing the unfair ballot system was a huge step forward in perfecting our democracy there is still much work to do. We need to gain the trust of voters in New Jersey as well as nationwide,” he stated in a press release.