[The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Bob Menendez Announces He’s Running As Independent

It’s everything that Democrats worried about: a leading member of their Senate caucus and the former Senate Foreign Relations Committee being indicted for allegedly taking bribes from a foreign country.

They found gold bars from Egypt stashed in his closet.

To make matters worse, Bob Menendez was up for re-election, potentially turning a dark blue seat into a toss up.

Democrats thought they dodged a bullet when the New Jersey senator announced he’d not be running in the primary. However, NBC News writes that yesterday, his party’s worries turned into a nightmare.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., will file Monday to run for re-election to the Senate as an independent, according to two sources with direct knowledge of his plans.

NBC News had previously reported that the three-term senator had gathered enough signatures to run as an independent for another term in the Senate as he faces a trial on federal bribery charges.

His filing comes one day before the state’s deadline for independent candidates and allows him to collect fewer signatures and still access the ballot; the deadline to run as a Democrat is long past.

The New Jersey Globe first reported that Menendez plans to file Monday.

Menendez’s decision to run for re-election also allows him to continue to raise and spend campaign funds on legal fees amid the ongoing corruption trial. Menendez has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

The polling leader in the Democratic primary, Andy Kim, issued a statement slamming the move by Menendez.

Menendez made the announcement of his run to reporters outside the courtroom and noted that he had turned in “three times the number of signatures necessary.”

The longtime senator added that he had gathered some of the signatures himself, reported The Washington Post. He added that he was “looking forward to continuing to prove our innocence” and touted some of his accomplishments in office.

“The people of this great state deserve a leader in Washington with a proven track record of fighting tooth and nail to deliver results, and I intend to keep doing so as an independent Democrat,” Menendez said in a statement later Monday. “It displeases me to have to go this route, thanks to overzealous prosecutors, but I will do what must be done to continue to uphold my oath of office for my constituents.”

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