Menendez: ‘Everything Else is Everything Else’

JERSEY CITY – Rob Menendez showed up to vote early Tuesday morning and many of those at the Regional Day School applauded.

It helps, one supposes, to be an incumbent congressman.

But things in this very-urban and mostly Hudson County Eight Congressional District are really not as simple as a congressman running again.

Talking to the assembled press after he and his wife cast ballots, Menendez said this race has been quite similar to the one he ran in 2022 when he was first elected.
He spoke of engaging in debates, forums and campaigning in every town of the district, which also includes Elizabeth and a sliver of Newark.

One difference, he sees, and it’s a critical one, is that now he has a track record.

In a previous interview, Menendez took credit for getting federal funds for an assortment of projects –  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.

All well and good, but the bottom line is not that a young congressman is running again. This is not, after all, any “young congressman.”

One cannot ignore the continuing spectacle unfolding just across the river in lower Manhattan where his father, Sen. Robert Menendez, is being tried on corruption charges.

The senator added to the drama when he filed nominating petitions this week to run for reelection as an independent.

If the senator is convicted, that is unlikely to happen, but there’s always a chance that it will. So much for the senator’s loyalty to the Democratic Party.

Ravi Bhalla, Menendez’ main opponent and the mayor of Hoboken, has talked at length about a so-called culture of corruption enveloping the senator and by extension, his son.

Bhalla also voted early Tuesday at Hoboken’s Joseph F. Brandt School. And like Menendez, Bhalla brought his family with him

Back in Jersey City, Menendez, naturally, was asked about his father.

“We have nothing to hide,” he said, acknowledging that his father’s legal mess has come up a lot during the campaign.

Menendez, the congressman, reiterated all he has done during the campaign and expressed confidence voters see that. He put it this way:

“We have a track record … Everything else is everything else.”

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