You can take the kid out of Hudson County, but you can’t take Hudson County out of the kid.
U.S. Senator and Union City native Robert Menendez today gave a passionate defense of both his home county and by extension, county prosecutor Esther Suarez.
Suarez has been mentioned as a possible candidate for U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, a job that often changes hands when there is a new administration in Washington. Senators do not make such appointments, but they certainly have a say over who gets nominated.
As Suarez’ name has circulated in political circles, her possible appointment has been sharply criticized on the editorial page of the Star Ledger.
So when Menendez was asked about Suarez at an unrelated press event in Newark, he was ready.
His first point was that Suarez has not been nominated.
“I don’t cast views on individuals who haven’t been nominated,” he said.
The senator then explained the process after a possible nomination. He said that includes a “rigorous review” by the Senate Judiciary Committee and then the “crucible” of debate and a vote in the full Senate.
All that is well and good, but then the senator got around to the juicy part of his response.
He said he doesn’t live in a world of only “black and white” like some critics do.
Moreover, “I don’t live in a world where anybody who comes from Hudson County is not worthy – not worthy – of achieving any position,” he added.
Menendez relocated to Bergen County a few years ago, but he clearly retains his loyalty to the congested streets of Hudson.
Whether Suarez’ Hudson roots have anything to do with the criticism is hard to say, but Menendez seems to think it does.
“I don’t even know who the nominee is going to be,” he said. And if it turns out to be Suarez, Menendez said he’d be happy to comment on her fitness for the job at that time.
He then asked Sen. Cory Booker, who was also at the press conference, if he wanted to weigh in on the topic.
Booker took a pass.