Democrats’ Menendez Problem Grows
Senator Robert Menendez’s scandal has cast a big shadow over the Democratic Party this week. Democrats both in New Jersey and on Capitol Hill are being forced to answer for his alleged corruption. According to CNN, Democrats are already gaming out the worst-case scenario, in which a convicted felon attempts to run for re-election:
“But there is fear inside Democratic circles that Menendez may get convicted and refuse to give up his seat, facing pressure to resign or an expulsion vote in the Senate. If the Democrat were to step aside while Gov. Chris Christie remains office, the Republican would pick a replacement. Yet if Menendez’s legal problems worsen and he decides to run for reelection, it could jeopardize a key seat in a critical election year.”
Senator Menendez’s trial is also forcing his fellow Senate Democrats, some of whom are in tight races, to comment on his legal woes. Both Senators Joe Manchin and Jon Tester had to duck questions about their ethically-challenged colleague yesterday:
‘We are a country of laws,’ said Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from the red state of West Virginia, who faces reelection next year. ‘And I think people should just let this process go through before they come to judgment in any way shape or form.’ Asked if he’d continue to stand by Menendez if he were convicted, Manchin declined to say, adding: ‘Whatever the verdict is we’ll deal with it at that time.’ Sen. Jon Tester, the Montana Democrat who also faces voters next year, also declined to comment, saying his attention has been focused on wildfires in his state. ‘I haven’t really been paying attention to the trial,’ Tester said.”
Senator Tester’s statement is especially interesting considering he took $10,000 from the indicted Menendez earlier this year. The opening of Senator Menendez’s trial featured prosecutors talking about how the Menendez sold his Senate office in order to finance a “life of luxury he could not afford.” Given that was just the first day of the trial, Senate Democrats have weeks of tough questions to look forward to.