Sen. Menendez re-elected to third term, defeating Hugin

Posted: Updated:

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez fended off his wealthy Republican challenger and a barrage of ads about his tossed-out corruption charges to win re-election.

Menendez, 64, wins a third term Tuesday after a grueling campaign against Republican Bob Hugin.

Polls showed Hugin, 64, and Menendez much closer than expected in overwhelmingly Democratic New Jersey.

In his victory speech, Menendez thanked his supporters and the state leaders who helped in his campaign.

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He reiterated to the crowd that he would oppose many of President Donald Trump’s controversial policies and stand up for the state of New Jersey.

He also made reference to the possibility of Sen. Cory Booker possibly running for higher office in 2020.

Hugin conceded to the incumbent earlier Tuesday evening. He told his supporters that he was proud that his campaign created "a new template" for Republicans in New Jersey by reaching out to urban areas in all corners of the state.  

At his mention of Menendez, who faced corruption charges last year before a trial ended in a hung jury and the government declined to continue the case, the crowd began to chant, "Lock him up! Lock him up."  

"I wasn't the right messenger to get it delivered, but we opened the door," Hugin told the crowd.

Hugin tapped his deep pockets for at least $27.5 million and spent on TV ads attacking Menendez over the 2017 trial on charges that he helped a friend with Medicare billing in exchange for lavish gifts.

The charges were dropped this year after a mistrial.

The race was particularly significant because Democrats are defending 26 seats, including 10 incumbents running in states that President Donald Trump won in 2016.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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