New Jersey Wants Senator To Resign

By John Celock

New Jersey voters are indicating in a new poll they want one of their U.S. senators to resign.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday indicates that 53 percent of those surveyed wanted U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D), who is currently under federal indictment on corruption charges, to resign his seat. The poll comes a day after another Quinnipiac poll showed that New Jersey residents are calling on Gov. Chris Christie (R) to resign if he wants to continue his campaign for president.

The poll showed that 39 percent of those surveyed do not want Menendez to step down from office. Menendez, who is currently in his second term, has said that he will continue in office. He was indicted by federal prosecutors earlier this year on charges alleging that he took flights and donations from a Florida physician in exchange for official action.

The poll showed that Republicans and independents are leading the charge for Menendez’ resignation with 62 percent of Republicans surveyed calling for him to step down. Fifty six percent of independent voters in the poll called on him to resign while 43 percent of Democrats want Menendez to leave office.

Menendez was first appointed to the Senate in 2006 by then Gov. Jon Corzine (D) following 13 years in Congress and was elected to his first full term later that year.

Corzine’s appointment of Menendez fulfilled a childhood dream for Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants. Menendez rose from the Union City Board of Education, where he was elected at the age of 20, to serve as Union City’s mayor and in both houses of the state Legislature before heading to Congress. While serving as Board of Education secretary in Union City in the early 1980s, Menendez testified against former Union City Mayor William Musto, who was charged with corruption.

If Menendez were to resign, Christie would have the ability to name a new senator who would serve until the November 2016 election for the remaining two years of the term. The last Senate vacancy in New Jersey occurred in June 2013, when Democrat Frank Lautenberg died. At the time Christie appointed then state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa (R) to serve until an October 2013 special election for the remaining year of Lautenberg’s term. Chiesa did not run in the special election, which was won by Democrat Cory Booker.

Christie’s pick would likely be a Republican, adding to the GOP Senate majority. New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972 and the two GOP senators who have served since 1979 – Chiesa and Nicholas Brady – were both appointed to fill short term vacancies.

The poll indicated that Booker, a former Newark mayor who was reelected in 2014, has a 48 percent job approval rating.