GOP challenger knocks Menendez amid tightening race

GOP challenger knocks Menendez amid tightening race
© Anna Moneymaker

New Jersey Republican Senate nominee Bob Hugin went on the offensive Sunday amid polls showing a tightening race in his push to unseat incumbent Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThis week: Senate starts infrastructure sprint Lobbying world This week: Congress starts summer sprint MORE (D-N.J.).

"My wife and I were just offended that Bob Menendez was going to be reelected without any real opposition. He’s had 35 years of being involved in corruption … and New Jersey is dead last," Hugin told radio host John Catsimatidis on AM 970 in New York.

"We get the least back of any state in the country from Washington. [He’s] not just corrupt, but ineffective. New Jersey deserves better," he added.

The comments come as Hugin appears to be closing the gap with Menendez, trailing the two-term Democratic senator by 6 points in a Quinnipiac poll released last week. He was behind 17 points in a Quinnipiac poll released in March.

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The GOP challenger noted that the Senate Ethics Committee admonished Menendez in April, with the panel saying Menendez broke Senate rules, federal law and "applicable standards of conduct" after he “knowingly and repeatedly accepted gifts of significant value” without proper approval or disclosure.

Menendez was reinstated as ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee in February, a month after the Department of Justice dismissed indictments against him after a federal judge tossed out several charges.

“People know that Menendez has gone too far and done too little, and it’s time for change," Hugin said in the interview broadcast Sunday. "The Senate’s bipartisan Ethics Committee found him guilty of violating federal law, abusing the power of his office, and disgracing the Senate."

Focus on the New Jersey race comes as Democrats are already working to defend 10 seats this year in states President TrumpDonald TrumpMajority of Americans in new poll say it would be bad for the country if Trump ran in 2024 ,800 bottle of whiskey given to Pompeo by Japan is missing Liz Cheney says her father is 'deeply troubled' about the state of the Republican Party MORE won in 2016.

Republicans currently hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, and any one race could determine which party controls the chamber starting next year.