Bob Menendez has held public office continuously since 1986. This appears to be the end of that streak.

The son of Cuban Immigrants, Menendez was first elected mayor of Union City. He quickly put together an enormously powerful political machine in Hudson County that earned him the nickname 'Hudson Bob.'

He was first appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2006 by then-Gov. Jon Corzine to fill the seat Corzine vacated to serve as governor.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) Addresses His Opponent Bob Hugin's Campaign Advertisements
Getty Images

Menendez has weathered waves of alleged scandals during his time as one of New Jersey's most powerful political bosses, but the latest federal indictments are too much for even Hudson Bob to overcome.

The latest scandal includes allegations of taking money, gold bars, and a luxury car as bribes to help three businessmen. Federal prosecutors also allege he acted as an agent of a foreign government while serving as the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Will not seek re-election

Menendez has steadfastly maintained his innocence and vowed to prove it in court. At the same time, he has refused loud calls from members of his own Democratic Party to resign.

While he is not facing the charges against him quietly, Menendez appears content to just fade away from the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Bob Menendez, center, arrives with his children, Alicia Menendez and Robert Menendez Jr., to court in Newark
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Publicly, Menendez has not said if he intends to seek re-election, but the New Jersey Globe is now reporting that he has not gathered a single signature to appear on the primary ballot.

The filing deadline is a little more than two weeks away, and sources told the Globe he has no political team in place and "he's not running."

It is a stunning fall from his perch as one of the most strident and vocal political figures in New Jersey's modern history.

Of course, Menendez could still change his mind and quickly find 1,000 people to sign a petition or even run as an independent, but that is not likely.

The allegations against him are just too salacious and damning. Most of his friends and allies have turned against him.

(AP file/federal indictment/Townsquare Media illustration)
(AP file/federal indictment/Townsquare Media illustration)

Unknowns are vying for his senate seat

The first person to enter the primary race for the seat currently held by Menendez was Congressman Andy Kim (D-NJ3). Kim condemned Menendez's behavior and said New Jersey should do better.

First Lady Tammy Murphy made a splash by entering the race shortly after Kim announced.

She was largely considered the front-runner due to her access to Gov. Phil Murphy's political operation in the state.

AP Photos/Townsquare Media illustration
AP Photos/Townsquare Media illustration

Her husband's ties to the Democratic Party have certainly helped her rack up endorsements, but her campaign has sputtered. She appears ill-prepared and flustered on the campaign trail and lost in the first debate with Kim.

Murphy fired her first campaign manager and has now announced that veteran political operative Maggie Moran would be taking over.

Kim, meanwhile, has been steadily picking up county endorsements and even beat Murphy in her home county of Monmouth.

Still, the latest Monmouth University Poll found neither Kim nor Murphy had a very strong connection with primary voters.

"Most voters really don't know who these candidates are," said Monmouth pollster Patrick Murray.

Tammy Murphy, Andy Kim during their first debate 2/18/24
Tammy Murphy, Andy Kim during their first debate 2/18/24 (New Jersey Globe via YouTube)

Murphy has better name recognition, but Murray says voters don't really know much about her.

That, Murray says, gives Kim a slight edge.

Among Democratic voters who have an opinion, Kim has a higher approval rating even among women voters.

However, a lot of voters remain undecided.

"There is a lot of wait and see going on here," Murray says.

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