The New Jersey Senator has been formally charged
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez filed for re-election AFP

Embattled senator Bob Menendez filed to run for re-election as an independent on Monday amid the ongoing bribery trial against him. He delivered more than thrice the 800 petition signatures needed to run in New Jersey.

Asked if the decision meant he is switching parties, Menendez told The Associated Press in Spanish "no, independent doesn't mean I'm changing." His party is listed as "Menendez for Senate."

Menendez, currently facing trial over accusations that he took bribes in exchange for using his influence to benefit three New Jersey businessmen and the governments of Egypt and Qatar, said he would consider running as an independent if acquitted from the charges. He has filed to run even though that has not been the case so far. Many Democrats have called on him to resign following the accusations, but the senator has refused to do so.

Menendez is set to face New Jersey Democratic Rep. Andy Kim and a Republican. However, a poll from April showed that his decades-long standing in local and national politics might not help him retain his seat, garnering little support from the state's electorate.

The survey, conducted by Emerson College Polling/PIX11/The Hill, showed Menendez with a meager 9 percent support in the general election, compared to 49 percent for the Democratic candidate and 42 percent for the Republican one. Republicans haven't won a senatorial race in the state since 1972 but could see their chances increase if Menendez's candidacy helps split the Democratic vote.

However, same as many members in the Democratic party, voters seem to have soured on Menendez following the accusations against him. The poll shows him with a 14 percent job approval among New Jersey voters, compared to 62 percent who disapprove of him.

His standing is slightly higher with voters of color, but still nowhere near the levels needed to be competitive: "Hispanic and Black voters in New Jersey are more supportive of Menendez as an independent candidate, 17% support the senator rather than a hypothetical Democratic or Republican candidate, compared to 6% of white voters," Spencer Kimball, the executive director of Emerson College Polling, said in a press release.

However, a person close to the senator told NBC News last week that he's "not going down without a fight" and doesn't want his last image in Washington D.C. to be that of his criminal trial. A campaign would also allow him to hold fundraisers to cover his legal bills, which already amount to $2 million.

Menendez's trial has continued over the past days and could last until early July. It has already seen a slew of damning allegations against the senator, including pictures of cash stuffed into boots and in jackets with his name embroidered and over a dozen gold bars.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.