Political experts: Menendez trial creating turmoil for Democrats

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The trial of Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez has entered its third week, and some political experts say that it is causing some turmoil for some of New Jersey’s Democrats as the state’s gubernatorial election draws near.

A steady stream of supporters and protesters have been showing up outside Newark federal court as prosecutors continue to make the case that the senator received bribes from Florida Dr. Salomon Melgen in exchange for political favors. It is an allegation both men have denied.

Democratic New Jersey Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez came to the courthouse Tuesday to show her support for Menendez.

“I think all of us legislators at one time or another have reached out to the senator on behalf of our constituents,” Jimenez said.

But political experts say that having a Democrat on trial for corruption and bribery charges is affecting the governor’s race.

Protesters also showed up outside court Tuesday wearing shirts linking Menendez to Democratic candidate for governor Phil Murphy. The demonstrators handed out flyers paid for by Republican candidate Kim Guadagno’s campaign.

A recent Quinnipiac Poll shows that Menendez’s approval rating has dropped and 50 percent of New Jersey residents polled said that he should not seek re-election next year.

Menendez has maintained his innocence. Assemblywoman Jimenez says that the allegations against the senator are false.

“I tend to think this is more of a smear campaign,” she says.

The Republican National Committee has begun a campaign pressuring Democrats to push Menendez to resign if he is convicted.

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