Menendez: Bhalla ‘No Knight in Shining Armor’

When Robert Menendez Jr. ran for Congress in 2022, the mayor of Hoboken, Ravi Bhalla, was in his corner.

“Not only did he endorse me, he campaigned for me,” Menendez said in a phone conversation Wednesday morning.

But now?

This year, Bhalla is challenging Menendez’ renomination in the June 4 Democratic primary.

What changed?

The question is facetious.

Last fall’s indictment of the congressman’s father has turned Hudson County’s political landscape upside down. A most obvious result of that is Bhalla’s challenge to the younger Menendez in CD-8, which includes most of Hudson,  Elizabeth and parts of Newark.

In a social media post in March, Bhalla noted a recent arraignment of Sen. Menendez, adding:

“His son also happens to be my primary opponent in NJ-08 and was handpicked by his father for his seat. This culture of corruption and cronyism is bad for New Jersey and bad for America. The Senator should resign so we can all turn the page on this embarrassing affair.”

This is one of Bhalla’s central points – not only the senator’s legal woes, but the “corrupt” system that made Menendez Jr. a congressman.

To Menendez Jr., Bhalla is simply an opportunist, a man seeking to cynically capitalize on the senator’s troubles.

“Ravi knows that we’ve been productive,” he said. “He wants to talk about my father to try and muddy the waters.”

Primary voters by definition tend to pay more attention to politics than others, so it can be debatable just how confused voters may be between Sen. Menendez and Rep. Menendez.

Then again, the name “Menendez” at the moment in New Jersey politics has a clear negative connotation.

The congressman notes – quite correctly – that none of his father’s legal issues have anything to do with him. He says Bhalla knows that and is just trying to conflate the two for political gain.

What Menendez Jr. would much rather talk about is his record in Washington, where he has emerged as the freshman representative on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which is a leadership position.

Speaking of Washington, last weekend was quite a productive one as the House – at long last – backed financial aid for Ukraine and Israel.

Menendez Jr., who like most Democrats voted “yes” on both bills, said this demonstrates that even in polarized times, things can get done.

And then, there’s bringing money to the district.

All representatives have the opportunity to secure funds for community projects, and most of them do. This, naturally, is an avenue only open to incumbents.

As for CD-8, Menendez Jr. talked about getting money for a music institute in Elizabeth, sewer improvements in North Bergen, public safety equipment in Bayonne, more pedestrian access in Weehawken and more broadly, the long-delayed Gateway rail project under the Hudson.

As for what happens between now and June 4, a number of campaign forums are on tap, which is good for voters.

Menendez Jr. also sounds ready to combat Bhalla’s general line of attack about corruption and cronyism.

“We’re not going to let him create this narrative that he’s a knight in shining armor,” the congressman said.





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2 responses to “Menendez: Bhalla ‘No Knight in Shining Armor’”

  1. The Kid’s father lied to Congressman Albio Sires when he asked him to stand down from another successful run as our esteemed and skilled U.S.Representative in NJ-8 in favor of his son. Had Congressman Sires been aware of the surprising, shocking, and deeply disturbing corruption that Senator Menendez would soon be charged for, I am reasonably certain that our self-made man, Albio Sires would still be representing WNY et al in Congress.

    There is no doubt that then-Congressman Menendez had a strong hand in seeing that our once and future Mayor Sires, also our Assemblyman who had also served as Assembly Speaker, replaced him in the 8th District when the Senior Menendez became our U.S. Senator. Those were different times. Senator Menendez, before he strayed from the path, was Hudson County’s most intellectually-gifted Public Servant.

    Senator Menendez kept our good Congressman Sires in the dark about the real reasons he wanted his own son to have his old House Seat. Had he waited to see if he would have been indicted for the Mercedes, the gold bars, and the cash, he couldn’t take the chance that this possible indictment ( which did happen) would then make his attempts to prop up his son as pathetic and self-serving, so he called in a favor to Congressman Sires, while at the same time, withholding that ‘little bit’ about his current alleged crimes. Because of Senator Menendez deception to Congressman Sires, West New York, much of Hudson County lost an effective voice in Washington, our Assembly district lost its senior Assemblywoman Jiminez, WNY lost its Mayor, Gabe Rodrigurez, who performed admirably during the devastating Pandemic to secure adequate vaccines for our Town, and our 2023 municipal elections pitted three sitting Commissioners against each other, all so Gold Bar Bob could shove his son down our throats to try to salvage whatever legacy he could for himself.
    I am sure the Senator’s son has realized with recent polling that voters are rightfully questioning his legitimacy. And now the younger Menendez, feeling the heat, is trying to get Mayor Bhalla and Mr. Jasey to fight each other, rather than the deception of his father to try to have his son salvage whatever legacy can be salvaged. But the damage has been done. Too many good people have been hurt. But there is hope. If Mr Bhalla and Mr. Jasey come to realize that they are not the other’s enemy, and unite for a Glorious Cause, then Congressman Menendez, who has shown no spine in standing up to his father’s corruption, will be rightfully voted out of office.

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