What to Know
- Corruption charges against incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez were dropped after a mistrial.
- Challenger Bob Hugin used that trial to his advantage, casting Menendez as untrustworthy.
- Menendez used Hugin's alliance with President Trump to sway voters against the Republican.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez is the projected winner of a third term in New Jersey, according to NBC News, holding off a wealthy Republican challenger and millions in attack ads that highlighted former allegations of corruption.
Menendez, 64, trusted heavily on a nearly 900,000-voter advantage that Democrats have over Republicans in the Garden State. A Republican has not been elected to the Senate from New Jersey since the 1970s.
Bob Hugin, a former pharmaceutical executive, could spend his way to the seat. He spent about $30 million in his bid, much of it coming from himself.
He did make Democrats nationally sweat through a closer than usual race. The race closed to single digits in polls as Election Day neared.
Menendez eventually spent on his own attacks, painting Hugin as a reliable ally of President Donald Trump.
Some New Jersey voters said that distrinction drove their votes on Tuesday.
Among them was 57-year-old Connie Stoerk, an engineer who lives in suburban Parsippany-Troy Hills. Stoerk said the votes she cast for Democratic candidates were a direct response to Trump.
Stoerk said Trump's actions and rhetoric have created "so much bad tension" that people feel they can't talk about politics with friends and co-workers.