Introduced by Lance, Hugin Flails Away at Menendez in Somerset County

WATCHUNG – Swigging down a beer, Republican Bob Hugin took the podium this afternoon at the Watchung Valley Golf Club and made a case for why voters should turn out his opponent, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

“This is embarrassing,” said Hugin, introduced by U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7), who’s in his own dogfight.

“Let’s not complicate this; this is right against wrong,” said Hugin, a retired Celgene executive who poured $36 million into his campaign to dislodge Menendez, who last year survived a corruption trial that left him wounded for the Democratic Primary.

Hugin argued that the race is close, and his fellow Republicans need to help him get the vote out on Tuesday.

Gaburo, Walsh and Lance.

“I took an oath as a Marine, and he took an oath of office to serve the people,” said the Republican challenger. “He’s violated that oath. It’s wrong he doesn’t deserve another six years.”

Democrats say the race is about the oppressive idiocy of President Donald J. Trump.

Hugin – a big Trump backer in 2016 – disagrees.

“Donald Trump will have his referendum in 2020,” said Hugin. “This is a referendum on Bob Menendez.”

The candidate had a little bit of a flair up with Rochelle Kipnis, the wife of CD-12 Republican candidate Daryl Kipnis. According to Rochelle Kipnis, Hugin at the rally got in her face and told her to remove the candidates’ children from the premises. She described being shaken by the candidate, who she said later apologized.

At the event in real time, Lance introduced Hugin in part by chopping away at the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate.

“The Senate Ethics Committee severely admonished Senator Menendez – a very significant punishment,”

The crowd.

said the congressman. “Ladies and gentlemen, New Jersey can do better than that. I want to make sure Somerset county produces the greatest plurality for Bob Hugin.”

Republicans are worried for Lance, who faces a well-connected challenge from former Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski in a Republican-leaning district thrown out of kilter by the Trump presidency.

“I have lived in this district my entire life, my opponent parachuted into the district a year ago,” said Lance.

“He’s from Princeton – it’s a great place,” he added.

In every election, the Ivy League university provides a soft underbelly opportunity for Somerset Republicans hoping to tar Democrats with the elitist tag.

Lance caught the figure of Hugin in the wings.

Hugin went to Princeton.

Menendez has made an issue out of it, drubbing the Republican for freezing women and minorities out of the school’s eating clubs.

Lance recovered.

“Princeton beat Dartmouth today 14-0,” he said.

“14-9,” he announced seconds later after hearing from Hugin.

“I’ve been corrected by the United States Senate, ladies and gentlemen, that often happens to us,” the congressman cracked.

The scene in Watchung.

It was a well-attended event.

State Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21), Somerset County GOP Chairman Al Gaburo,

Woodcliff Mayor Carlos Rendo – a Hugin backer who ran for the office of lieutenant governor last year with Kim Guadagno, posted this on his Facebook page.

former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, Freeholder Mark Caliguire, Freeholder Pat Walsh, Bernards Twp. Committeewoman Carol Bianchi, Morris Freeholder Heather Darling, and many others dotted the crowd. Former Governor Tom Kean., Sr. headlined.

“There’s good energy,” said Kean, referring to Hugin’s effort.

Kean ran against Menendez in 2006 and lost.

“He hasn’t served the people,” Kean said of his old rival, encouraged by Hugin’s performance.

The statewide candidate made a final closing argument for his backers to get out and finish the race with him. But the pressure showed, at least according to Kipnis, who left the event shaken after their run-in, but initially accepting of the U.S. senate candidate’s apology, she said, as the campaigns staggered somewhat more emotionally toward Tuesday.

Kean, Munoz, and Amanda Woloshen Glass from Lance’s office.
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