Sen. Bob Menendez formally launches bid for 3rd term

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Sen. Bob Menendez has officially announced his campaign for a third term in the U.S. Senate, with no mention of the corruption scandal that dogged him until two months ago.

The Democrat launched his campaign Wednesday at Union City High School. His parents settled in Union City after they emigrated from Cuba, and it's where he served as mayor before going on to state and national office.

“You know who I am, you know where I came from and you know who I’m fighting for. I’m fighting for you,” the senator told the crowd.

Menendez told the enthusiastic crowd of a few thousand students and top Democrats that he would continue to oppose the policies of Republican President Donald Trump. He also said that he would fight for tougher gun laws, an issue he says may decide the November races.

“The future is your future and it is on the ballot in 2018,” Menendez said. “While some of you are not old enough to vote, I am not here to ask for your vote. I’m here because I am your vote in the United States Senate.”

Student William Marquita attended the rally. He says that he is 10 days away from his 18th birthday and that he plans to vote for the senator.

“It’s going to be huge because it’s going to represent us mostly,” the teen said. “I really hope he gets re-elected.”

But there were many people in the crowd who did not support the senator. They were seen handing out “get out of jail free” cards with Menendez’s face on them, along with a photo of the senator’s co-defendant Salomon Melgen. The cards said that they were paid for by the NJ Republican State Committee.

Menendez's bribery and fraud trial ended in a hung jury last November. The government elected not to retry him on charges that he traded his political influence for gifts and favors from Melgen, a longtime friend and donor. Menendez still faces a Senate ethics probe.

The senator’s Republican challenger Bob Hugin is a former Celgene executive with millions to spend campaigning. His team already put out an ad saying that Menendez "disgraced New Jersey."

Menendez also faces a primary challenge from publisher Lisa McCormick. The primary is June 5.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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