New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez was indicted on three federal charges Friday, nearly a year after news first broke of a possible investigation into the powerful Democratic lawmaker. In a 39-page indictment, the Department of Justice alleges Menendez and his wife accepted bribes and committed fraud and extortion in their dealings with three New Jersey businessmen and a coterie of Egyptian government officials.
The new Menendez indictment injects significant uncertainty into the 2024 New Jersey Senate race, which was not previously expected to be competitive. The Garden State is not hospitable to the GOP at the federal level; in 2020 Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump there by 16 points, 57-41 percent, and Republicans have not won a Senate race since 1972.
Despite increasing levels of partisanship and a decline in split-ticket voting, corruption scandals can still make otherwise-comfortable incumbents vulnerable — just ask former New York and California Reps. Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter.
Or ask Menendez, who saw the effects of legal trouble in his last race too.
In 2015, federal prosecutors alleged that Menendez had accepted gifts from a friend in exchange for taking actions on his behalf. When the case finally went to trial in 2017, the jury deadlocked and a judge declared a mistrial. The government declined to retry Menendez, though his friend was later convicted on unrelated charges (and was ultimately pardoned by Trump in 2021).
In 2018, a defiant…