While he’s locked in a close race with his Republican challenger after facing corruption charges, New Jersey’s incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez holds a sizable lead over challenger Bob Hugin among New Jersey voters who identify themselves as Hispanic, according to a new poll from Telemundo 62 and Telemundo 47.
Menendez leads Hugin 57 percent to 20 percent among likely Hispanic voters in New Jersey, with 19 percent of respondents undecided, according to an exclusive poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida. Libertarian Party candidate Murray Sabrin was at 3 percent of those polled.
The poll, which has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent, was conducted between Oct. 1 and Oct. 4 with 625 registered Hispanic voters interviewed via telephone across New Jersey. All of the people interviewed indicated they would likely vote in the November general election.
Menendez also leads Hugin 52 percent to 23 percent among Hispanic men in the poll and 61 percent to 17 percent among Hispanic women.
Voters polled said the most important issues in the race are the economy and jobs (21 percent), immigration (18 percent), honesty and integrity in government (15 percent) and healthcare (12 percent).
Menendez had a much smaller lead, at 45 percent to Hugin's 43 percent, in a Stockton University poll of 531 likely voters released last week.
Menendez had faced federal bribery charges, but in November 2017 his trial ended in a mistrial when the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked on all charges against Menendez and a wealthy donor.
The Democrat was accused of using his political influence to help Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen in exchange for luxury vacations in the Caribbean and Paris, flights on Melgen's private jet and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to organizations that supported the senator directly or indirectly.
Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, served in the House from 1993 until he was appointed to fill a Senate vacancy in 2006. He has chaired the Foreign Relations Committee and was a major player in the unsuccessful bipartisan "Gang of Eight" effort to overhaul the nation's immigration laws in 2013.
Hugin, a native of Hudson County, graduated from Princeton University before entering the Marine Corps in 1976. He served for eight years. After earning an MBA from the University of Virginia, he went to work at J.P. Morgan. Over the years, he rose to managing director.
In 1999, he took over as chairman and CEO of a large pharmaceutical company called Celgene, based in Summit.
Hugin retired this year and is a first-time candidate. He says he's running as an independent Republican in a state with roughly 900,000 more Democrats than Republicans.